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Chelsea win bad news for longevity

16 May 2013-PA Sport

It was good to see Rafael Benitez wrap his arms around the Europa League trophy after a season in which he has suffered unjustified and at times despicable abuse from his own club's fans.

It was good to see Frank Lampard, one of the most influential midfielders of his generation, hinting he will be staying at Chelsea after all.

It was good to see Fernando Torres scoring in a major final and playing like he used to before a £50 million ($77 million) price tag was hung around his neck.

Yet, make no mistake, Chelsea's victory over Benfica in Amsterdam to add the Europa League title to the Champions League trophy it won last season was bad for English football.

It was bad news for all those managers who believe football's biggest prizes should be reward for patience and meticulous planning and founded on loyalty and trust.

Chelsea and owner Roman Abramovich, in particular, are rapidly demonstrating that model is little more than hogwash. Chelsea won the Champions League last season with an interim manager, Roberto di Matteo, who had been in the job little more than two months.

This season it has won Europe's second-biggest prize with an interim boss in Benitez who has been in charge six months.

Under Abramovich Chelsea has won 11 trophies in 10 years under nine managers with the average lifespan of a manager at Stamford Bridge just eight months. Only Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho have lasted more than a year.

You can imagine what the Russian billionaire must be thinking as he considers the next move in his PlayStation version of the Premier League.

Top of the list is his instincts must be good. He can sack and sack and keep coming up with the right answers regardless of flouting all the accepted laws of footballing success.

Yet what Abramovich does not get is that the billion or so he has pumped in to Stamford Bridge over the past decade should have brought stability as well as trophies.

It should have built a dynasty which could have dominated British football for a quarter of a century or more.

Abramovich might have won every major club trophy since alighting in west London but he is still light years away from challenging Manchester United as a pillar of world football.

As Chelsea was winning its latest trophy Sir Alex Ferguson was giving his opinion on the short-termism that infests the game.

"It's an unusual club Manchester United," Ferguson told United's television channel MUTV. "If you look at the behaviour of some clubs sacking managers left, right and centre ... and I'm not naming any one club – it's the whole bloody lot of them. We as a club have patience, show trust, show loyalty and it's rewarded.

"Players stay at Manchester United. They love staying at Manchester United. They ingrain themselves in the whole bloody place."

You could, of course, say the same for the likes of the impeccable Lampard and the one-club John Terry and the loyal Petr Cech.

It is not the players who are systematically jetisonned at Chelsea, it is the managers. And there is no sign it will change.

Does anyone seriously believe that if Mourinho returns next season, as it seems he must, there will suddenly be harmony and a bond between manager and owner which can forge the dynasty the fans crave? Only those who insist the Earth is flat and the moon made of cream cheese.

Mourinho is the epitiome of Mr Short-term. He is up for a couple of prizes before it all ends again in tears.

Yes, the fans singing "Blue is the Colour" in the Amsterdam Arena have another trophy and the resilience of the players and the nous of Benitez should be applauded.

However, at the risk of seeming churlish when Chelsea have flown a lone flag this season for English football in Europe, when is Abramovich going to deal in trust and loyalty? When is he going to put long-term class above short-term gain? Now that would be something to celebrate.

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