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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Luis Felipe Scolari may have paid the price for Chelsea's bleak midwinter, but who was really to blame for the club's decline in form? The Brazilian boss may have made mistakes in his short reign at Stamford Bridge, but he was never given the tools he needed to rebuild an ageing squad.

It was clear from the early stages of his time in West London that his methods weren't meeting with universal approval. There were whispers that the intensity of training had gone, that the tactics seemed confusing, but the same is true whenever a new manager joins a club and shakes up the status quo. The difference here is that Scolari was never given access to the funds he needed to bring his own players in. The board would not give him the support he required. And the directors are not the only ones to blame.

Nicolas Anelka has now gone two months without a league goal. Didier Drogba hasn't played well for several months. Given even half the transfer budget of his predecessors, do you think that Scolari would have kept faith in either of them? All he got was a cut-price Deco and a late gamble on the hit and miss talents of Ricardo Quaresma. John Terry told reporters on Monday that he was sorry for Chelsea's poor form but, while his honesty is welcome, it's not really his fault. Too many other big name players let the side down. There were too many egos and too many sulks.

The fans too must take their share of culpability. Post-Abramovich, some of them seem to have lost the ability to spot a transitional campaign. Bloated on glory, it was no longer enough just to be in the Champions League, regardless of long-term injuries to key players like Michael Essien. They wanted silverware and they weren't prepared to see the obvious limitations of their side.

This is a football club still living in the shadow of Jose Mourinho. The formation is the same, the attitude is the same, but the players have aged and the results are very different. It doesn't matter who takes over when the dust settles, be it Gianfranco Zola or Robert di Matteo, the new manager must be given the chance to rebuild their squad the way that they want to, with the players that they deem to worthy.

There can be no question that Chelsea have been underperforming for some time. No doubting that some of Scolari's decision have been curious. But to bring in a World Cup winning manager and then take away the chequebook that he needed to build his team simply beggars belief. This isn't League Two, this is the biggest league in the world and to stand still is to go backwards.

There is a problem at Stamford Bridge. It's a chronic lack of stability. Whoever that new manager is, his will be the fourth backside in the dugout since September 2007. That, more than iffy results and dubious training methods, should tell you all you need to know about where the blame lies at Chelsea.