Suddenly it all makes sense.
Roman Abramovich, the man with the itchy trigger finger and apparent inability to smile, is actually a football genius.
His financial smarts have never been in question; at least not to a layman like me who sees £8.4billion as a reasonable retirement fund, regardless of the business behind it.
But his football smarts? They weren’t so evident.
He signs players for lots of money. Some of them are good, and some are Andriy Shevchenko.
He sacks managers – eight and counting. And that’s about it.
But then I realised what he’s doing. Because this isn’t a man who wings it; this is a man who methodically plans.
He isn’t sacking managers because they are bad. Despite a poor run of form, Roberto Di Matteo didn’t suddenly stop being the man who inspired Chelsea to overcome the apparently unbeatable Barcelona and the not-exactly-shoddy Bayern Munich just six months ago. Yes there was luck involved, but there always is.
Some fans are saying it was time for Di Matteo to leave, that his substitutions too often befuddled and he lacked the tactical nous in the big games. But he left with the club four points off top spot, with both the FA Cup and old big ears shimmering in the trophy cabinet.
There is only one reason why Abramovich sacks managers, and that is because he has learnt all he can from them.
And then he hires a new one, and learns all he can from them, too.
Because one day, when he has learnt all he can from all of them, he will be the manager of Chelsea.
And not only that, he will manage them yesterday.
I’ve seen The Terminator, I know what happens.
Because when you have that much money there’s only one way to spend it: you invent time travel.
Or, more likely, you pay someone to invent it for you.
What better for a billionaire to buy than the impossible?
So don’t be surprised if Abramovich has a twenty-year-plan, or a series of one-year and six-month plans that ultimately add up to twenty years. At the end of which he will know every trick in the managers’ hypothetical handbook.
He won’t get Sir Alex Ferguson. And contrary to the hope of Chelsea fans the world over, he won’t get Pep Guardiola either. But he could get anyone else.
And then he will be the ultimate manager. And even if he doesn’t have the time travel, he will still have a good twenty years to win everything.
Just don’t be surprised if he sacks himself.
image: © Free-ers