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It doesn't really matter who manages Chelsea

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The relative merits of Rafael Benitez and Pep Guardiola for the Chelsea hot-seat can be discussed ad nauseum, but the truth is that it doesn't really matter who gets the job.

Clive Rose

If reports are to be believed, Rafael Benitez looks likely to be the next man the Sky cameras will be getting in shot while trying to catch a better view of the Chelsea physio. It'll be interesting to see if he takes the opportunity to ask his predecessor, Roberto Di Matteo, for any tips: "Well, Rafa, we saw immediate improvement when I took the job, then we went on a difficult run, and when we failed in Europe, I got the sack." Perhaps he could also ask the man who enjoyed two seasons at Chelsea, in which he won the double, Carlo Ancelotti. "Well, Rafa, I was able to improve the team immediately, but then we went on a difficult run, failed in Europe, and I got the sack." Perhaps he could ask André Villas-Boas, but he might find it all starts to get a bit repetitive.

There'll be a lot of pontificating in the next few days from ex-pros about how that's not the way to win trophies and succeed. Look at Alex Ferguson, they'll say. Look at Arsene Wenger.

Yes, look at Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. They've been able to build up a real dynasty at their clubs, writing their names into legend, and creating cults of personality that would have Kim Jong-Il saying "Well, you know, there's a lot of people here and they all work very hard, it's not just me." They've needed it too, with Ferguson toiling under the Glazer yoke and Wenger struggling to keep a good squad together as the club meanders through the self-enforced lean years resulting from the construction of the Emirates, a gamble that looks more insane with each passing year. And if they were sacked, there would be severe problems.

In contrast, at Chelsea, it doesn't really matter who manages the club. Their method clearly does win you trophies - look, there they are. It's hard to imagine the results being too different whether the next manager were Pep Guardiola, Rafael Benitez or Tony Pulis. You get high on those fresh new manager vibes, you maybe win a pot or two, you come into some difficult form after about a year and you get the sack and walk off with a pension and a Tuscan villa. Everyone's a winner.

Is this method really so much worse? There's a case to be made that both Wenger and Ferguson have built themselves into such untouchable positions that their once-petty foibles have become magnified to a cancerous level, but that couldn't happen at Chelsea. It might seem crass, but it belongs in the stereotypical English view of the continent, where the chairmen are as mad as the drivers, and they have baffling notions that the hopes and dreams of the club should not rest on one man alone.

Sometimes you need a tyrannical despot to drag you through some rough times, but Chelsea's overhaul of that old Mourinho side is complete now. They could do with a striker or two, but they have a talented young squad full of potentially world-class players. That Drogba-Lampard-Terry-Cole side was one of the most resilient English football has ever seen - it just wouldn't die - and that provided the consistency to keep the club at more or less the same level despite the bloodbath that was typically occurring at managerial level. It didn't matter whichever hapless chancer had been thrust into the managers seat that week, because they'd pick the same team in a 4-3-3 formation anyway. And that will be what Roman Abramovich will be banking on happening with this squad.

There'll be a lot of discussion of the relative merits of Rafael Benitez and Pep Guardiola. The arguments in favour of each are fairly obvious: Rafa couldn't be trusted in the transfer market and made some disastrous moves which ruined his Liverpool squad, but he did get Liverpool punching above their weight in Europe, so he'll be a great fit. Pep Guardiola can implement a long-term vision and work with other directors to produce a consistent philosophy and team, which is what Abramovich wants. Really though, we all know what's going to happen. There'll be an immediate improvement when they get appointed, then they'll come into some bad form. And how did Guus Hiddink say he was finding working in Dagestan, again...