By Joe Behan
A couple of weeks ago in the match program for Chelsea vs. St. Gallen in the UEFA Cup tie, Blues chairman Ken Bates said: "It was the most difficult and distressing action I’ve had to take. Gianluca Vialli goes with my affection, respect and tremendous best wishes."
Bates also insisted that Vialli had taken the club as far as possible, claiming that he had acted because the team was "sliding" and heading toward "decay."
The managing director, Colin Hutchinson, criticized the Italian after Vialli claimed his manager failed to support him.
"I have been a bit disappointed with the third-party lines coming out from Luca and the reference to Mr. Nice Guy," Hutchinson said. "If Luca has got an argument with somebody, I think he would be better naming this Mr. Nice Guy rather than the finger being pointed unfairly at various people. There was an agreement with Luca that I would not criticize him and he would not criticize the club. I have been more supportive to Luca than anybody. I gave him the job — it was my choice. (So you’re a god of some kind.) He probably does not realize now that he had a job in a million, but he will in the future, (Sorry, you are a god). He was away for eight weeks this summer. His only involvement with players he wanted was talking to them on the telephone. He never went out and looked at players before he signed them. The only player he ever went to see was Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He didn’t have to go out like Alex Ferguson and other people do to watch the opposition before we played them. Don’t forget that we have invested in players that he wanted to the tune of £25 million."
On top of a little insight into the office side of the story (What do they know about football?), it seems the administration needs players to make dismissal decisions.
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Chelsea were disorganized on the field as much as off it against Leicester. It’s bad enough they were beaten 2-nil, but it was embarrassing to see Blues teammates Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Christian Panucci going at it in front of everybody. Hasselbaink is said to have been an influential figure in appointing Claudio Ranieri as new Chelsea coach. The Dutch striker was consulted about Vialli’s replacement and had no hesitation in recommending coach Ranieri — the man who took him to Atletico Madrid 15 months ago.
"I have been very positive about Ranieri’s arrival," Hasselbaink said. "But I couldn’t be any other way about him. He is a top-class coach, a very good man, and at this club he is in exactly the right place. We needed somebody like him. Chelsea are no longer just an ordinary London club. They have so many big players, all internationals from different countries, and that is exactly why we had to have a high-profile coach. We’ve got him. I am convinced that Ranieri is the kind of coach who will be very successful in England.
"Every minute I worked with him in Madrid I learned something new about football. I really enjoyed the whole experience. With the squad we have at Chelsea, a squad of very different personalities and qualities, we needed somebody of the background and know-how of Ranieri to find us the winning formula."
The flying Dutchman concluded, "Under his guidance, I believe we will achieve success."
Hasselbaink stormed back down the pitch during stoppage time while furiously shouting at Panucci before throwing the ball away. Nice one, Jimmy. Who do these people think they are? What does Bates know about stability and giving a coach a real shot? It is not the first time a coach has been let go in this manner at Chelsea. Hutchinson has too much too say and thinks too highly of himself. He must remember that somebody gave him a chance to be in the position he is in.
Bates and Hutchinson are a combination of money ruining the game and an ego bigger than the Bridge itself. As far as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, well, his last name says it all. He is hassle and likes to pursue big money deals. Has he not tried EPL before?
Vialli won’t burn bridges
Chelsea tried to persuade Vialli to walk away and resign from Stamford Bridge. Walking would have forfeited his entire salary, about £1 million, for the coming season.
Chelsea wanted Vialli to tell everyone he was tired of the job and was leaving of his own accord. The club told him the publicity would be better for all concerned if he agreed to do it their way.
So the Italian sticks to his guns, makes little or no statements, and Chelsea must fork out the cash. It seems that way in the media, but there is one specific detail that Vialli constantly reported about: the unsophisticated surroundings of Chelsea’s Harlington training ground. Vialli believed it reduced the full commitment of his players. It was his number one priority.
During his stay at Stamford, he won five trophies, including the FA cup last season. There was a time when a coach would be deemed a legend if he won the cup. He also took his Blues to the champion’s league quarterfinals, a feat that may prove hard to repeat.
Vialli has insisted his dismissal is not personal and he still respects Bates. The shrewd Italian will not burn bridges as he continues to hold off on his official statement. Nonetheless, the new manager has a respectful record and is no stranger to Euro football.
New Bridge for Chelsea
New Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri, who numbers Cagliari, Napoli, Fiorentina and Valencia among his former clubs, will take his Atletico Madrid backroom team of No. 2 Angelo Antenucci, fitness guru Roberto Sassi and goalkeeping coach Giorgio Pellizano to Stamford Bridge. That casts a shadow over the futures of Graham Rix, Ray Wilkins, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Antonio Pintus. Ranieri watched the game against Leicester before his first match in charge against Manchester United at Old Trafford next Saturday. He told Ken Bates that he was honored to be joining a club that desperately wants to win, because he’s the same.
Ranieri went on to say: "The fact that they offered me a three-year contract means the club has a long-term project. When Chelsea come calling for you, you cannot say no. I know that this is a serious and professional club."
Having witnessed the support for the sacked manager as Vialli’s name reverberated around Stamford Bridge at the recent UEFA Cup victory over St. Gallen, Ranieri acted swiftly to win over the doubting fans, telling them he shared their feelings for favorite player Zola.
"I have had the satisfaction of giving Gianfranco the chance he wanted when he was a boy," he said. "I am the man who had faith in him when few people knew who he was. He had the difficult job of following Maradona, but I believed in this boy. Now I am coming back to be with him again and I find the man, a mature player in every sense."