Lampard, Nuno, Gracia, Allegri, ten Hag, Mourinho. Even former foe Benitez is «wanted» at Stamford Bridge… What is going on?
Every time Chelsea are looking for a new manager, we seem to be linked to everyone and everything. Not just the most sought-after names you would expect, but also seemingly inadaquate candidates, and even some despised by the fans.
Is Roman stupid, is the media fabricating or what is really happening? It is hard to make sense of everything, but here I do my best to give answers to this confusing and intriguing drama.
First of all, things are not as easy as “if there is a link to website, Chelsea think this candidate would be good for the job”. In fact, behind the scenes, there is a cunning ploy between clubs, managers, agents/intermediaries, media and (sometimes even) betting companies. Who may be the media’s source, and what is the source’s intention, is a smart question to ask.
But regardless of source, the golden rule is: whenever there is a link, someone profits.
The six different types of links, and how to interpret them:
1 Chelsea are genuinely interested, and the link is real. The name of our next manager will always be among the ones mentioned. Fear not, our guy is there! And obviously, even if Chelsea tend to do business in the quiet, newspapers pick it up. It is also likely we would drop the name to the press if they didn’t, as a managerial recruitment can be met with such strong opinions that it is usually best to let those opinions erupt and calm down in press and social media, before a confirmation is made.
2 Chelsea see the person as back-up choice if we fail with the top target.Laurent Blanc was an example of this one year ago. We establish contact with his agent to see if we can make a deal. Agent will then drop information to press to show his candidate is in demand, regardless of whether agent thinks his candidate is first or second or fifth on the list, his client will always profit from being wanted by Chelsea.
Who: Nuno, Allegri, Blanc, ten Hag, Gracia
3 Chelsea drop a name to the press to strengthen negotiation position.When negotiations are on-going, Chelsea do not want to seem desperate and may want to flex som muscles by saying: “Look, we are interested, but not at all cost, we are negotiating with other great managers as well”. Some of the bigger names on that list may be put in this category, as that would have biggest impact.
4 Agents drop client’s name in the Chelsea frame. For almost every manager in the world, being associated with Chelsea increases your market value. Or negotitian position towards current club, either for a new contract or new signings. Or stature among fans. There are many reasons why a link to Chelsea is always beneficial. And sometimes, we even see these people claiming to turn Chelsea down!
But even if media publish a story with an agent as source, who should be seen as a reliable one, it does not mean Chelsea are interested. And sometimes it is just the agent making stuff up, sadly.
Who: Jorge Jesus, Rafa Benitez
5 Betting companies pay agents to leak fake news to the press. This is probably not very common, but I have heard about this happening: it is beneficial for betting companies when a sudden outsider fictionally enters the race and people place bets, because there is zero chance they will have to pay up. When a story breaks and odds are slashed on Manager X, people may think “ooh, that bet may be worth a punt”, while betting companies in this case will be earning risk-free money. It would be a crime to practice in that way, so I do not expect this happening very often. But it can’t be excluded as a possible scenario in some occasions.
6 Press makes up fake news. There are some websites that simply cannot be trusted. Don Balon is one of the worst. They have a track-record for making up stuff, and you would do best to just consistently block them. Serious publications do not make up fake news however, at least not without the journalist in question making a huge error and facing the sack. They may be quoting media sources they should know better than to trust, and run a story based on that (which of course is worth criticizing — they should know better), but respected journalists and publications would never invent fake news. If they did, that would be a journalistic scandal of proportions.
It really is not easy to navigate in this foggy landscape. My best advice is to trust your own common sense, be critical to what you read, remain calm, and simply wait until well-sourced journalists break something. And if many of them do it at the same time, then you can be pretty certain it is happening!
The last few weeks I have analyzed the different stories and rumours, and I have never been in doubt that Frank Lampard is our number one target. My hunch is negotiation is part of the current hold-up; Frank wants to take his time to consider the offer (as even he may think it is too soon), and it is likely not salary but short-term expectation level that is the most difficult part of getting to an agreement between Chelsea Football Club and Frank Lampard jr.
Enjoy silly season responsibly, guys! And follow my new account on Twitter @balance_bridge 🙂