Roman Abramovich is back to the stand, the Russian politician and business mogul will be back to watching Chelsea matches in the homestand.
Roman Abramovich’s match-day presence at Stamford Bridge used to be taken for granted. The Russian would survey the scene from his spacious box in the West Stand as a team coached by Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti or Antonio Conte attempted to put the day’s visitors to the sword down on the pitch.
- Michael Carrick has stepped down as Manchester United first-team coach and will leave the club following the conclusion of his spell as caretaker manager.
- Chelsea Football Club may well be premier League winners by season end
- The capacity of Stamford Bridge
The oligarch, often accompanied by relatives, other members of the club’s hierarchy or trusted football advisers, would applaud each goal as they rattled in, just as he would when attending youth-team fixtures back at the club’s academy near the Surrey town of Cobham, a few miles south of London. His interest extended through the club he was bankrolling.
He witnessed five Premier League title successes from that vantage point and never attempted to hog the limelight. He would almost look uncomfortable if the television cameras ever honed in on him and his image flashed up on the big screens at either end of the ground. Regardless, everyone recognized the Russian as the figure who had made Chelsea’s dominance possible.
And yet, up until last weekend, Abramovich had been conspicuous by his absence from the club’s home fixtures since the early spring of 2018.
He missed the politically poisonous tail-end to Conte’s tenure and, in terms of fixtures in England, the entirety of Maurizio Sarri’s divisive year in charge. It is understood he never saw Frank Lampard’s team, decorated with homegrown players developed at the club’s academy at Cobham, play a home game in person, and had been waiting to see the side-drilled by current coach Thomas Tuchel trot out in that corner of south-west London.
That changed on Sunday.
Abramovich returns for the visit of West Ham United on Chelsea’s home ground on Saturday. It will be something huge for both the fans, the players, and the management.