Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea Football Club on July 2nd 2003. That was the date that changed the lives of all Chelsea fans.
That first summer was like a dream. We were linked with superstar players and big-name managers. It all started with a sensible signing of Glenn Johnson for 6 million from West Ham. Damien Duff soon followed along with Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Claude Makelele amongst others. By splashing 110 million in that first summer, it showed a huge statement of intent from Roman.
We finished that first season 2nd in the Premier League and got to the Semi-Final of the UEFA Champions League. For me personally, the two most memorable moments from that season were the opening day win against Liverpool at Anfield. This win quickly made an important statement that Chelsea was back. The other memorable moment was finally ending our ‘hoodoo’ over Arsenal with a Wayne Bridge winner at Highbury in the Champions League Quarter Final. Despite finishing second in the Premier League Claudio Ranieri was relieved of his duties by Roman Abramovich that summer.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho was appointed as Claudio Ranieri’s Successor. From the start, Jose galvanised the whole club. He bought well that summer and already had a wealth of world-class talent at his disposal. The thing that impressed everyone was the way he created the ‘Them and us’ scenario. The players bought into it brilliantly and the clearest example of this was a 1-0 away win vs Blackburn that put one hand on the title for Chelsea. Blackburn tried to bully Chelsea and it didn’t work. Chelsea defended resolutely with Petr Cech saving a penalty and Arjen Robben scoring a stunning solo goal to grab the three points. That 1st season under Mourinho was a roaring success with Chelsea landing their first-ever Premier League title. Despite an agonising Champions League Semi-Final defeat to Liverpool, Roman Abramovich and Chelsea FC had changed the landscape of football forever.
Roman Abramovich has a deep affinity with Chelsea and this is undeniable, in my view it even super seeds his own ego. For me, this is not in doubt and he proved it with the re-appointment of Jose Mourinho in June 2013. It clearly showed Roman was putting the best interests of Chelsea Football Club before his own ego. This is not always the case with Football Club owners.
That night in Munich in 2012 when we finally won the Champions League will never be forgotten by any Chelsea supporter. That night was a triumphant culmination for heartaches Chelsea supporters had suffered and not just in recent years. The winning of the Champions League would not have been possible without Romans backing. Chelsea supporters will and should always be grateful to Roman for making that magical night in Munich a reality.
Fast forward to this summer, I feel Roman has shown his interest in the well being of Chelsea is as strong as ever. The hiring of Frank Lampard and Jody Morris, as well as the return of Petr Cech, is a positive sign. It shows Roman is trying to lay an everlasting foundation for Chelsea to develop an identity. Roman has made the right appointments with the transfer ban in place as we have a management structure in place that has a deep affinity for the club. This is vital in the development and integration of players such as Mason Mount and Hudson-Odoi. The management team may be young and relatively inexperienced but they understand the DNA of the club. This is a time for us as supporters to unite and back the new management team.
Roman has received a lot of criticism online from a section of Chelsea supporters that feel Romans non-attendance at games shows his interest is dwindling. Roman and his well-publicised visa troubles have undoubtedly affected his ability to travel to games. Roman is a businessman and other business ventures will obviously also take some of his time away from Chelsea.
Roman Abramovich has also been criticised for his apparent lack of backing of Maurizio Sarri in the transfer market. I’m not sure I can adhere to this thought. Roman backed Sarri straight away with the purchase of Jorginho. We didn’t sign Barella in January for reasons unknown. It seems an easy option to blame Romans lack of support. Sarri had a good squad at his disposal which I don’t feel he utilised to its full effects. As such, him leaving the club this summer was clearly the right move for all parties. Looking at reasons for Roman to stay and reasons for him to sell up and go is easy. For what he’s enabled the club to achieve and he’s enabled us Supporters to live our dreams, he should absolutely stay. Roman has spent billions of pounds to transform Chelsea Football Club, he would obviously want to leave a lasting legacy. With the recent appointments on the managerial side and the appointment of Petr Cech to the board, it shows Roman still cares deeply for Chelsea and what the supporters think. The recent appointments show he wants to create a lasting legacy and with the transfer ban in place, it’s the perfect time to start. Roman Abramovich has made Chelsea fans dreams become a reality and for that, he will always be welcome and ultimately backed by the majority of Chelsea supporters.