Roman, time to buy yourself a fish tank
Alison Ratcliffe
Mon, Feb 16, 2009
The New Paper

1. Robbie Savage

2. My mother-in-law

3. George W. Bush

4. Victoria Beckham

5. Avram Grant

THESE are the people I would pay to go away, in order of preference - if I were rich enough to shell out a few million pounds to convince someone who was bothering me to disappear.

I say this because we learned this week Roman Abramovich has spent ??pounds;30-odd million ($65m) on getting rid of Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Aren't there more useful people he could have convinced to go on long holidays? Sir Alex Ferguson perhaps? Edwin van der Sar? I'll give him Grant though - boring man, boring football, and ugly to boot.

I hope Abramovich has a healthy supply of flipcharts to the ready. From what I hear new boss Guus Hiddink practises a brand of management by paper.

A member of the Russian squad explained this week how Hiddink unfolds a large sheet of paper showing the opposition's playing style. This is followed by another large sheet showing how Russia should deal with it.

Finer points, set-piece tactics etc.? Pieces of paper are ready and waiting in the dressing room before the match. (I'm not sure if we're talking flipchart or A4 at this stage. Perhaps A4 to keep the dressing room tidier.) I hope Hiddink has stopped to consider the impact of his style of management on the environment.

Hiddink keeps talking about roadworthiness and efficiency, which makes me picture him wandering around Chelsea in blue oil-stained overalls, whistling while he works and blithely telling Abramovich he won't be able to get the part he needs until June.

'All three roads are very important,' he said the other day. 'The next game in the FA Cup against Watford, and then Aston Villa and Juventus, and then you go on the path of the Champions League and that is so attractive.'

Which makes the Champions League sound like a scenic walk in the country, rather than a multi-million pound, sponsored-to-the-eyeballs money-spinning wheeze. How charming.

1. Sheikh Mansour to Kaka

2. Silvio Berlusconi to Victoria Beckham

3. Guus Hiddink to Luiz Felipe Scolari

... These are phone calls I would love to have 'accidentally' picked up the receiver on: One of the world's richest oil barons tries to convince top religious fanatic footballer to join club he's barely heard of because of their humanitarian work; megalomaniac Italian Prime Minister and media magnate explains to undernourished fame-addict he'll pay her a lot of money to make a TV programme about how famous she is; new man in the Stamford Bridge ejector seat calls its most recent victim to get the low-down on Chelsea's dressing room cliques.


I'm told such a conversation is really going to take place.

'You want to watch that John Terry... He's, like, SUCH a bitch... Yeah... They used to stop talking when I walked in the room... honestly darling... went behind my back... yep, serious... told my boss a heap of stories... '

Sadly I fear Abramovich's latest love is doomed to tragedy. After using and abusing a long line of partners, he's finally found the one he was really searching for. But after an all-too-brief affair Hiddink will desert him and go back to the Russian wife.

One final tip for Roman on getting rid of people. I wonder if he's ever seen You Only Live Twice (Connery is still the best Bond). Ernst Stavro Blofeld has a piranha pond. Whenever an unfortunate henchman cocks up, Blofeld waits for him to stroll onto the ornamental bridge, then pulls his special leaver - fish food!

So save yourself a bit of cash, Roman, and add some drama to your life - buy a fish tank.


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