Chelsea’s 3 – 0 defeat by Juventus was the “El Sackico” that got Roberto Di Matteo sacked. Repentance and forgiveness was out of the question. Di Matteo could have sang “Lord forgive me like only you can, For you’re the God of a second chance…” But, Chelsea’s owner, 46-year-old Roman Abramovich is not God, and he doesn’t give second chances.
God is almighty; He can do all things and He is not human. If God was human, Hezekiah Walker would not even bother to sing:
Lord I need to feel the touch of Your hand
Your will for my life I want to understand
Lord forgive me like only You can
For You’re the God of a second chance
Lord I’m tired of the way that I am
In Your love I want to live and stand
To adhere to Your every command
For You’re the God of a second chance
For You’re the God of a second chance
God gives you more than one chance, but some human beings cannot. If you were a coach at Chelsea, you cannot sing Hezekiah Walker’s song, because if you do the only touch you’ll feel when you make any mistake is that of your P45 and your last pay cheque. With God, you can be forgiven and you’ll get many chances. If you need a third, fifth, tenth or twentieth chance to turn a new leaf, He’ll be patient with you. But this is not the case with Abramovich, because He is not God!
The mistake we all make when assessing Roman Abramovich is in applying our own standards of behaviour to him, or superimposing on him a godly or normative moral paradigm of forgiveness.
Anyone assessing the recent appointment of Rafael Benítez and the sacking of Chelsea’s former coach – Roberto Di Matteo, and those who went before him, needs to remember that Abramovich can afford it. Like Abraham in the Bible, he is a very wealthy man.
Abramovich’s parents both died before he was four, and he was thereafter raised by his extended Jewish family in Ukhta. Later, he moved to Moscow. He dropped out of college and after a brief stint in the Soviet Army, he married his first wife, Olga. He first worked as a street-trader and then as a mechanic at a local factory and latter sold imported rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment.
A 2,000-ruble wedding present from Olga’s parents (about £1,000 at that time) was invested in a business, and thereafter he made a fortune in a series of controversial oil-export deals in the early 1990s.
The wealth of Abraham vs Abramovich
Money is no object for Abramovich. The reported £77 million that he has spent on paying off sacked managers and sporting directors over the last twelve years hardly compares to his estimated $19.6 billion (£12.3 billion) net worth.
A few years ago he was worth more than this, but he lost almost one fourth of his estimated wealth during the global economic crisis of the late 2000s, and a split from his second wife Irina in 2007, who received £1 billion, and four properties in addition, which was at the time the world’s heftiest divorce settlement.
Abramovich is currently the 5th richest person in Russia and the 50th richest person in the world, according to the 2012 Forbes list. As a result he can afford to sack Chelsea managers wantonly and expensively maybe until rapture comes if he so wishes.
Also, this Russian billionaire is not a bean-counter. The earning of money does not seem to be the objective of this football club owner. This is probably why the usual biblical model of forgiveness or the Western-capitalist models do not apply to the likes of Abramovich. Instead, it is the spending of money that is the real expression of will, an assertion of power. He spends money for the fun of it. He buys Chelsea Football Club to give him pleasure, not to give him profit. Ostentation, not accumulation, is the goal. Abramovich is not a beancounter.
Abramovich, means “son of Abram or Abraham”. Just like his namesake, Abraham, in the Bible was a billionaire in his days. Genesis 13: 2 says, “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”
In addition to gold and silver, Abraham has a vast amount of landed property. In Geneis13:14 – 15 the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” Do you know anyone who has that amount of wealth?
No second chances
If you make mistakes, God is willing to forgive you, and He’ll give you another chance, if you are truly and genuinely sorry. God is prepared to wait for you until you get it right, as long as you are honest about your mistakes. But, Abramovich is not God!
Let’s not see Abramovich as a destructive dilettante in football, or emotionally unintelligent with coaches, nor a forgiveness ignoramus because under his watch Chelsea have seen off nine managers in nine years, at great expense.
Forgiveness is not among this Russian’s cardinal virtues. Luiz Felipe Scolari was dismissed after 223 days in charge. Avram Grant had 247 days. André Villas-Boas went after 256. Roberto Di Matteo, the most recent “victim” (or “victor” depending on which way you look at it), got 262 days. On that basis, you could even say the oligarch is getting more patient and forgiving as the years roll by.
(November 2012 to date)
Benitez is the current and most recent manager at Chelsea. He has told the fans that he and they want the same things after arriving in London following his controversial appointment as interim manager. But what really matters is what Abramovich wants.
Roberto Di Matteo
(March 2012 to November 2012)
With 18 months left on his contract he probably left with a compensation in the region of £2 – £5 million.
Known as Italy’s Coolest Cucumber, he was the stone that the builders rejected, but which then became the chief cornerstone. Di Matteo was not the first, but the fourth choice prior to his miraculous appointment as a manager. Yet he delivered Abramovich the only trophy he longed-for, the European Champions League trophy. He also added an FA Cup victory to his credit all within his brief eight months’ service. This season, he’s kept Chelsea between 1st and 3rd position, yet he was sacked because he lost a match to Juventus by 3 – 0.
Andre Villas Boas
(June 2011 to March 2012)
Sacked and compensated with around £10 million.
Villas-Boas didn’t lose a single game in his last season as manager of Porto football club in Portugal, but lost a number of games when he was brought to West London by Abramovich.
(June 2009 to May 2011)
He left with £6.5 million in compensation.
A dignified and phlegmatic character, Ancelotti was hired with a brief to repeat his two AC Milan Champions’ League successes. Though he failed in this, he delivered Chelsea’s first-ever League and Cup double. He was axed after a trophy-less sophomore season.
(February 2009 to May 2009)
He left at the end of contract.
Had the best run of Chelsea coaches. Signed up for only six months, the Dutchman turned a team that had lost direction into FA Cup winners. He’s remembered by fans as the one that got away before he was sacked.
(February 2009 – February 2009)
Compensation amount unknown.
Chelsea stalwart who lead the team for one game before retreating to a more comfortable assistant manager role. He was eventually sacked as an assistant manager.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
(July 2008 to February 2009) £12.6 million.
Scolari arrived and on the back of a World Cup win with Brazil but struggled to adapt in the English Premier League. He struggled also with English – once confusing “dressing-room” with “bedroom”.
(September 2007 to May 2008)
Smiled all the way to the bank when he was sacked with a compensation of £5 million.
The Israeli took Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final, but lost the last game of the competition.
(June 2004 to September 2007) walked away with a bumper sum, thought to be £18million.
“The Special One” led the Blues to two league titles, two Carling Cups and one FA Cup.
(September 2000 to May 2004)
Settled for a compensation of about £1 million.
Forgiveness is forever, but…
Does God ever get tired of forgiving us?
God sees our sin but is ready to forgive us because Jesus paid the price for our sin by His death on the cross. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. So He’ll forever forgive you if you are truly sorry and repent.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
If this is what Jesus tells Peter; you can only assume God will not do any less. But, as often as we sincerely regret our sin and seek to turn away from it; so often will God forgive us.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1.
You do the math!
Here is the equation: If you take advantage of the grace of God, you might lose His grace. In other words you’ll be “dis-graced”!