While national rail strikes are ensuring the arrivals and departure boards in train stations the length and breadth of the UK are sitting dormant for long periods this week, their equivalents at Stamford Bridge could scarcely have been busier over the past couple of days. With the Roman Abramovich era well and truly over following the imposition of sanctions on the Russian oligarch, the consortium led by USA! USA!! USA!!! investor Todd Boehly have taken a new broom to the corridors of power at Chelsea and begun sweeping like Trigger from Only Fools and Horses after an overdose of amphetamines.
Following the news that Bruce Buck would be stepping down from his role as chairman but remaining in situ as an advisor to the new owners, it has now been confirmed that Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia will be following Buck through the door marked “Do One”. The one-time personal assistant to Abramovich during his days as an up-and-coming oil-igarch at Sibneft, Granovskaia is believed to have known even less than The Fiver about football when she took up her role at Chelsea. However, the University of Moscow graduate quickly built a reputation as a sort of anti-Ed Woodward – a fiercely private and seriously shrewd boardroom cookie, who Chelsea’s new owners may find tremendously difficult to replace.
Luckily for them, Granovskaia has agreed to “remain available” to provide advice for the duration of the current transfer window, just in case Boehly and his associates decide they want to spaff £97.5m on a world class centre-forward with a view to loaning him back to whatever club they bought him from within a year. Luckily for them, the purchase of Romelu Lukaku from Inter last season is one of very few conspicuous blots on Granovskaia’s Chelsea CV. “As custodians of Chelsea FC, we now begin executing our long-term vision and plan for the club, creating an outstanding experience for its passionate, loyal fans and continuing to challenge for top honours in line with Chelsea FC’s decorated history,” tooted Boehly, who has ambitiously declared himself interim “sporting director” and also announced a number of incoming suits who would be pulling up chairs to the boardroom table. “Working together, side-by-side, we are firmly committed to winning, both on and off the pitch. For us, that effort has begun.”
Of course, like most football fans, Chelsea season ticket holders won’t be particularly fussed about who’s running their club as long as the players continue to hoist shiny pots towards the heavens and keep competing in Big Cup on an annual basis. Their ability to do so may well hinge on whoever is selected to fill Granovskaia’s metaphorically massive stilettos. For now, in the wake of her departure, Thomas Tuchel looks likely to have a much bigger say in who Chelsea target and sign in the current window and, with openings for at least two centre-backs following the departures of Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen, Juve’s Matthijs de Ligt is top of his shopping list. Yes, it’s another potential mega-money Chelsea summer signing from a top-end Serie A club – here’s hoping it works out better for them this time around.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“After every one of my games in Munich I will come to the dressing room and I will watch Liverpool, for sure, because I am going to be Liverpool’s No 1 fan forever” – Annie Wilkes Sadio Mané signs off from Anfield, with a £35m move to Bayern.
“Re: fans booing players they once loved on their return with a new club (yesterday’s Fiver letters). I think it’s hard to beat Newcastle fans’ welcome back to the much-loved ‘Sir’ Les Ferdinand. He received a standing ovation when he came on as a Spurs sub, then his every subsequent touch was resoundingly booed. He seemed to appreciate it all” – Bill Nevin.
“One of my favourite moments as a Manchester United fan (and let’s face it, reminiscing about times gone by is pretty much all we have left) is proper club legend, David Beckham’s return to Old Trafford with Milan. He received a rapturous reception, particularly on his introduction as sub, with a rousing chorus of ‘there’s only one David Beckham’, followed by his first touch being met by a wall of booing. Great stuff. He properly milked it at full-time, and left the pitch wearing a green-and-gold scarf, if I remember correctly. That feels like a very long time ago” – Matt Jago.
“To continue the discussion about Jaap Stam (Fiver letters passim), I’m sure his comments have less to do with Manchester United’s transfer policy than Stam wanting to beat someone else with his own MLS wooden spoon” – Harriet Osborn.
“I see Bayern have given Mané the fabled 2025 shirt. Not even Lewandowski got that” – Andrew Parker.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Matt Jago.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Christophe Galtier is set to replace Mauricio Pochettino in the PSG ejector seat.
Liverpool will cash in to the tune of £13m for Monaco-bound occasional supersub Takumi Minamino, while Newcastle continue to plunder poor Burnley by moving for Nick Pope.
Jennifer Hermoso, Barcelona Femení’s all-time leading scorer, is heading to Pachuca in Mexico. “Now is time for a new adventure that fills me and that make me feel truly valued,” she roared, somewhat pointedly.
The selection of Euro 2022’s venues could have included bigger grounds, admits Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s chief women’s football suit. “I think the most important thing for us is three full stadiums for England,” she cheered.
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is now Sunderland’s majority shareholder after swiping Charlie Methven’s shares to take his stake to 51%. Juan Sartori now owns 30% with Stewart Donald still there with the rest.
Kevin Friend has blown the whistle on his career as a Premier League referee, following Mike Dean, Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson in hanging up his bias against your team.
And Qatar’s latest Human Rights World Cup preparations have been dented by a 1-0 defeat to Linfield in Marbella.
STILL WANT MORE?
It’s a Wednesday so it’s also Moving the Goalposts day. This week, Louise Taylor has grounds for concern on the Euro 2022 venues.
Who is the oldest player to score their first international goal? The Knowledge knows.
Get the latest transfer t1ttle-tattle in the Rumour Mill.
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