What a merry-go-round!
Irish banking might have offered some parallels over the last few years but there can be few other industries to compare with top-level English football when it comes to softening the blow for those who get the sack. Roberto Di Matteo and Mark Hughes were both shown the door by their respective employers, Chelsea and QPR, over the last few days but given the scale of the compensation they will receive, neither will have to worry about where their next pay cheque is coming from for quite some time.
The case of Di Matteo, once a team-mate of Hughes at Chelsea, seems to highlight the scale of the madness at the heart of the world’s richest league these days. The Italian became Roman Abramovich’s latest “victim” barely a third of the way into a two-year contract handed to him when he guided the side to the club game’s most glittering prize – the Champions League – last May. Roughly 12 hours later, Rafa Benitez became the tenth manager of the Russian owner’s nine year reign.
Fuelled by enormous revenues from television and, most recently, expanding commercial markets in China and the rest of Asia, this millionaires’ merry-go-round looks set to spin ever faster with nobody, it seems, willing or able call a halt. Certainly Abramovich, who has spent more than €1 billion on Chelsea, is unlikely to change his ways with few giving his latest choice for the manager’s job much hope of making it beyond next summer.
He, however, is merely the most extreme example of a new breed of proprietor who, having achieved success in other walks of life, demands it almost instantly in football. Their pockets are deep, their expectations high and their patience often extremely short. There will, in other words, be plenty more casualties down the line but then there will also be an almost endless queue of candidates to replace them. The outside world, meanwhile, will continue to look on and marvel at the good fortune of those who inhabit a world where failure is so richly rewarded.