Boehly makes a meteoric entry into English football at Chelsea

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly watches from the stands before the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge stadium in London on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly watches from the stands before the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge stadium in London on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

PA

For someone with little footballing experience, American businessman Todd Boehly has certainly made big calls in his first 100 days as the face of new Chelsea ownership.

His first big decision really raised eyebrows: Boehly, Chelsea announced at the start of the offseason, would not only be the club’s new president but also its interim sporting director in charge of recruitment.

What ensued was the kind of summer spending spree never seen before in English football, spending nearly $300 million on new players. Uncapped French centre-back Wesley Fofana arrived for $80m, Marc Cucurella – with an appearance for Spain – joined for $65m, and Raheem Sterling was sold by Manchester City to Chelsea for nearly $60 millions of dollars.

And then this week Boehly ruthlessly fires Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea’s Champions League-winning manager last year – just a month and seven games into the season and replaces him with Graham Potter, who is believed to have paid around 25 million dollars in compensation to Brighton to get her man.

Talk about making a meteoric debut in football. To some, it’s like he’s got a role in a fantasy sport, which is fitting considering Boehly’s investment firm Eldridge lists him as a co-owner of DraftKings.

It’s a style that doesn’t appeal to some great personalities close to the English game.

Gary Neville, a television pundit and former Manchester United and England defender, tweeted that Boehly was “wandering around like a child in a candy store”.

“It’s just a scattergun and not durable,” Neville added. “I doubt that approach will do well.”

Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool captain and manager, said he thought Boehly looked like someone “who watched football and thought, ‘It’s a simple, straightforward business – and because I’m so smart in so many other aspects of life, I can handle that.

“Try to bring Sir Alex Ferguson out of retirement, send him to the LA Dodgers and have him evaluate baseball players playing at other clubs, with a view to building a team,” Souness wrote in a column. from the British newspaper The Daily. Mail. “He wouldn’t know where to start.

Boehly is part-owner of the Dodgers after being part of the consortium that bought the team from Frank McCourt for $2 billion in 2012. He is not the main owner, however – that would be Mark Walter, a former colleague of Boehly at the Guggenheim. . Partners — and has no day-to-day involvement with the inner workings of the Dodgers on the field or in the front office.

There hasn’t been a hire-and-fire culture at the Dodgers when it comes to team leaders, with current incumbent Dave Roberts having been in the role since 2016 and having led the team to the title. World Series in 2020.

Will it be different at Chelsea, where Boehly has ensured a more concrete role since buying the club in May for 2.5 million pounds (then 3.2 billion dollars)?

It remains to be seen, although Boehly – whose name and face usually appears in statements from Chelsea on signings or club matters – has decided to hand Potter a five-year deal and has spoken out about the new manager to match. the “owner’s vision for the club”. ”

“We look forward to supporting him, his coaching staff and the squad as they reach their full potential in the months and years to come,” Boehly said.

Potter is a bit of a gamble, though. Despite being widely praised for his work at Brighton, the Englishman has never managed a title contender – or even a Champions League club.

Clearly, Boehly didn’t think Tuchel was the right man to lead Chelsea into a new era, with stories emerging following his dismissal over a breakdown in the relationship between the two.

After removing top executives like Petr Cech (technical adviser), Bruce Buck (president) and Marina Granovskaia (director) ostensibly to ensure the club broke free from the Roman Abramovich era, Boehly had valuable football knowledge. in his close entourage then asked Tuchel to help him recruit in the first months of his mandate.

Tuchel accepted, albeit reluctantly.

“It takes a long time,” Tuchel said during the offseason of his recruiting meetings with Boehly. “It’s not my favorite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on coaching because that’s why I’m here. But right now, of course, my help is needed and wanted. “

Maybe the writing was on the wall then.

Potter is unlikely to face such a burden, with Chelsea apparently keen to hire a full-time sporting director in the coming months and ahead of the January transfer window, which is sure not to be as frenetic as that of the summer.

So a slew of expensive new recruits arrived. A new manager has been installed. The arrival of a new sporting director is imminent.

Perhaps Boehly will now slip into the shadows at Stamford Bridge.

Judging by his dramatic first 100 days in charge, that might not be his style.

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Naomi C. Amerson