Chelsea fans marking the wrong man?

SC

A life size poster of Roberto Di Matteo, gleaming like the trophy in his grasp, welcomed supporters to West Stand, Stamford Bridge. It provided the fan a photo-op or two with the manager who delivered Chelsea their grail. They loved it. A couple of days ago, Di Matteo was clinically airbrushed from the portrait. And the club's history. Now, the trophy rests in owner Roman Abramovich's hands.

Nothing paints a more vivid picture of the pre-existing power structure at SW6, London.

This, of course, is glasnost with a twist. This Tsar runs his property with transparency alright, but the message is jarringly loud: 'You can see all, but do little.' The fans and players have heard it all along, but none have felt the ringing ache quite like Abramovich's eight sacked managers from the Special One to the Winning One. Now, its the Interim One's turn.

Hate is a strong and personal word. Yet, it is best suited to describe the frothy relationship between Rafael Benitez and the fans. On Wednesday, Benitez conceded after a little less than a hundred days of torment, bitterly announcing that he will be gone by the season's end.

The rabid I-hate-Rafa clubs rejoiced ceremoniously on social networking sites and perhaps even on Fulham Road. But was his resignation a feather in the logo-crested cap worn by the Chelsea supporter or on the owner's Chapka?

It's no secret that Abramovich has hired and fired as he pleased, right through his decade long tryst with the club. Only this time with coach number nine, he got the fans to do the job for him by getting Benitez in place of the much loved Italian. And the word 'interim' wasn't any less merciless than his inverted thumb, one he utilises as often as his nefarious 2D version does in the riotously funny online game, Roman's Wrath (bit.ly/R0LiYh).

... contd.

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