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Brilliant read!!

This brilliant article appears today in our daily newspaper. Enjoy.

Source: The Straits Times, 25th April 2008

By Richard Jolly

Stars, not stardust
Style, not efficiency
Eulogies, not grudging respect
In short, he wants Chelsea to be Man Utd

WEDNESDAY marked the fifth anniversary of a match that had a hidden significance. Among the capacity crowd at Old Trafford was a then unknown Russian.

As Manchester United defeated Real Madrid 4-3 - but exited the Champions League 5-6 on aggregate - a captivated Roman Abramovich resolved to buy a club.

He had seen the sort of exhibition of attacking football to convert non-believers and witnessed the generosity of spirit of United supporters granting a standing ovation to Real's Ronaldo, scorer of a superb hat-trick.

He had glimpsed, too, the indefatigable spirit that has become a hallmark of Manchester United when David Beckham scored twice in a late comeback.

Five years on, Abramovich has overseen the biggest spending spree in football history.

A win tomorrow and his Chelsea may yet claim United's title. And they may yet become the least loved Premier League winners ever.

Silverware has been secured, but not the adulation to which United are accustomed. Chelsea get grudging respect, not the eulogies United attract.

But United represent the objective for Chelsea.

Mohamed Al-Fayed, laughably, once said that he wanted to make Fulham the Manchester United of the south. Abramovich has mounted a more serious attempt to make Chelsea that.

He has taken personnel from Old Trafford - Juan Sebastian Veron, unsuccessfully, and chief executive Peter Kenyon. The latter, in turn, failed to lure Rio Ferdinand south.

And when Wayne Rooney lines up in red tomorrow, Abramovich may reflect that Jose Mourinho's biggest mistake was failing to bid for the young Evertonian four years ago.

Thereafter, Abramovich intervened. His attempt to import galacticos has backfired, with Andriy Shevchenko a disaster and Michael Ballack, even at his best, is merely being efficient.

United, in contrast, have created their own heroes, generally from the ranks of the young.

Neither Anderson nor Nani were household names when recruited, but both already have cult status. Then there is their major attraction, bought at just 18 and developed into a superstar.

If everyone casts covetous glances at Cristiano Ronaldo, the sight of the Portuguese and Rooney in tandem should serve as a reminder of what Chelsea lack. They possess stars in abundance, but far too little stardust.

And that is a problem for an owner who demands style. United's players serve as evangelists for a club, giving an aura of adventure and offering the potential to thrill. Chelsea's, Joe Cole apart, do not.

One manager, Mourinho, has departed in the quest for greater entertainment. Another, Avram Grant, has served up worse football, but could secure an unlikely double.

The irony is that, before Abramovich, Chelsea were a club with a reputation as stylish outsiders. Now they have been rebranded as efficient winners.

For them, branding is important. Chelsea have changed their shirt sponsor and kit manufacturer in a bid to maximise revenue.

Aggressive marketing can succeed but United, their huge fanbase providing a historic advantage, still figure above Chelsea on the rich lists. In any case, the biggest boost to a club's appeal can only come on the pitch and neutrals are naturally inclined to favour the entertainers.

Grant recognised that a Champions League final is essential to establish Chelsea in the European elite. So, too, is the manner of play. Mourinho fostered a siege mentality, but his side are struggling to escape their image as unloved arrivistes, grinding out wins as joylessly as possible.

Chelsea's answer has tended to involve the chequebook.

Recent talk of £100 million (S$272 million) spending sprees and moves for Kaka and Lionel Messi are all too typical. But it is also the vaunting ambition of the nouveau riche.

The allegation is that Chelsea have money, but lack class. The same is rarely said of United.

Chelsea have been accused of buying their two Premier League titles.

But, as Roman Abramovich is finding, it is harder to buy victory in a battle for hearts and minds.

23,699 Posts
Grif SA said:
Roman has not made any money while at Chelsea I believe. But then again, he's not using Chelsea to make money, now is he? He already has $15 billion at least. He wants to turn Chelsea into what United are. And you know what, I wish Abramovich had bought United. He's an owner I'd welcome. He's passionate about his team, you see him in the stands at the home games, and he doesn't care about making money, he cares about his team and their success, no matter what the cost, literally. Even if it's over $200 million...
Quote of the forum this week. :)

If he wanted the best on the pitch and off the pitch, he really should have bought us. We won't be in debts etc etc.

And with his money and passion plus Fergie's football management, we would have been invincible for a long long time.
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