By Shane Thomas
It's seldom that a person succeeds in any walk of life without having something of a gambler's instinct. Playing it safe only gets you so far, and in football, Roman Abramovich is a man who's rolled the dice ad nauseum.
It can all be tracked back to a coruscating evening in Manchester in 2003. Manchester United and Real Madrid played out a exhilarating match, which ended 4-3 to the Spaniards. The press were exultant in their appreciation, but little did we all know, that Roman Abramovich was the most appreciative of all. It was the catalyst that led to him buying Chelsea (although it just as easily could have been Tottenham), and spending an estimated £1 billion to win the "cup with big ears."
I guess Abramovich looked at the carefree, borderline-reckless football that United and Real played in the aforementioned match, and assumed that every game of football would be like this. It wasn't until Jose Mourinho arrived, and turned Chelsea into a winning machine, that the Russian found out that even with a largesse that had never been seen in British football up to that point, victory tends to come with ruthless efficiency rather than chimeric gung-ho attacking.
So Roman rolled the dice again. And again. And again. From Avram Grant all the way to Roberto Di Matteo, millions was spent on players, millions was spent to move them on. The same went for the melange of managers to pass through the seeming revolving door at Stamford Bridge.
It was in the most unlikely scenarios that Abramovich finally rolled a six, long after many thought that he should cash in his chips. And despite finally getting the prize he most coveted, and he may be set to roll the dice again, making the man who won the Champions League unemployed. Unlike Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, Abramovich has the funds to be able to continue gambling at the table. But with the spectre of Financial Fair Play drawing ever closer, Roman may soon be forced to sit back from the table, and letthe chips fall where they may.
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