x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Accidental Roman empire

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is still probably trying to figure out how on Earth his side are the new champions of Europe.

Roman Abramovich may not have planned it this way, but Chelsea won the Champions League despite a topsy-turvy season. Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Roman Abramovich may not have planned it this way, but Chelsea won the Champions League despite a topsy-turvy season. Dylan Martinez / Reuters

A whimsical e-mail to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich from a source with a lot in common

Dear Roman,

We trust this finds you well. First, heartiest congratulations on your Champions League triumph. Well done! Chelsea may not have been the most attractive team to watch but who cares? And nobody has made for a better spectacle this year, eh?

Listen, now that we're in the third day after the day after, we thought we'd write to see how you're coping. And we're pretty sure now that it's happened, the first thing you're probably wondering is how on Earth all this actually happened?

How, after being 3-1 down against Napoli; after conceding a semi-final penalty to not just the greatest team on the planet but the greatest player (and being a man down though some might dispute that categorisation of John Terry); after conceding a penalty to Arjen Robben in the final (he's actually not a bad penalty-taker).

After sacking Andres Villas-Boas less than a season in (btw, how many managers with double-barrelled surnames have won anything?); with Sideshow Bob as one central defender and a kid who'd never played in the Champions League before the final and a spine so old it's beginning to curve ... how after all this have you managed to pull it off?

As someone once asked someone else in sport (but has never asked us), who writes your scripts?

Don't. Don't wonder about it too much. Trust us. We stopped a long time ago. We figured out the best way is just to continue doing what we do.

People laugh and snigger at us, we know. They tell us you can't keep sacking management or playing personnel, that you can't run organisations like a fiefdom, that you need to treat your players like flowers, that you need to hire scientific minds because sport is a science and blah blah blah.

Well, as you now know - and almost knew when Avram Grant took you so close - people will tell you anything and none of it matters.

Because eventually one day the stars will align just right and the entire outside universe will be sucked into the universe we have created for ourselves and start behaving to our rules.

Random jigsaw pieces will drift down from the skies and fall just in the right place.

Sometimes, in such moments, we even try our best to mess things up only for them to work out beautifully (Don't do this consciously as a strategy though).

It happens more often than you might imagine. People try to rationalise it.

It was amusing to read about Roberto Di Matteo's tactical nous. Hah! How is inviting teams to rain a fury of shots upon your goal and pray that a) Sideshow Bob gets in the way or b) your keeper does, how is that a tactic?

We once won a world title which people celebrate as some great tactical coup.

All our guy did was tell his players to go out and attack (yeah, like inverting Di Matteo's equally simple plan). Imagine! Attack? How novel and deep ... hah!

We're telling you these things can't be explained. We've tried. It doesn't work. There is no way of making science out of what you have done.

Just ask yourself: you went through seven managers, all the highest quality, and the only one who won the title you most wanted was the assistant, a man sacked by West Bromwich Albion. And you've assembled far better sides than this, better players who've played better football and yet?

Where is reason in that? Sometimes, as you've probably found, the best decisions are those compelled upon you by circumstance. We know. We've won things with pretend coaches.

You have much more money than us, but we think alike. For different reasons, people look at us suspiciously, until we do what we do and you've just done. Then we become real, like some beating heart.

Look, basically what we're trying to say is just enjoy this, roll around in the glow and celebrate the unreason behind it.

Forget that Di Matteo's future needs to be sorted, or that Fernando Torres is angry, or that Didier Drogba is leaving. None of all this really matters.

Don't plan (but pretend to). Let it happen. And remember that feeling when the last penalty went in and you just couldn't understand what had happened and how.

Take care, stay in touch,

- The Pakistan Cricket Board