EPL Betting: What next for Chelsea?
Didier Drogba will need to be replaced; John Terry can't go on forever, nor can Frank Lampard or Petr Cech - or Ashley Cole either, for that matter.
Roman Abramovich has fulfilled his dream of winning the Champions League, and yet with an ageing team and no permanent manager at the helm, Ralph Ellis wonders where the Chelsea might go from here?
So, what comes next for Roman Abramovich?
Ever since he sacked Andre Villas Boas in March it's been pretty obvious for him to run through a wish list of world football's great management names because he was always looking for the guy who could win him the European Cup. That was the quest stated when he bought Chelsea. That has been the burning ambition ever since.
Now he's done it. It turns out the bloke who was capable of pulling together a squad with a mixture of ageing superstar prima donnas and young hopefuls was under his nose all the time. So what will drive him to put more money into Chelsea? Or might this be the moment that the Russian Oligarch suddenly decides to find himself another toy to play with?
Because it could just be that winning Saturday's Champions League final after the drama of extra time turns out to be a watershed moment for Chelsea. There are big players reaching the end of their contracts. There is no manager in place and it seems Abramovich is still not in a hurry to hand the job permanently to Roberto Di Matteo. What if, with financial fair play rules about to be put in place, he decides to rein back his spending and move Chelsea towards the original stated intention of becoming self financing?
A glance at Betfair's market for next year's Premier League season underlines the issues that Chelsea face. They may be officially the best team in Europe, but they are 6.4 to win the 2012-13 Premier League title. Manchester City are already as short as 2.36 to retain the trophy, and to make any sort of a dent in that will mean spending serious money this summer.
Didier Drogba will need to be replaced; John Terry can't go on forever, nor can Frank Lampard or Petr Cech - or Ashley Cole either, for that matter. Saturday night in Munich was a last hurrah for most of the men who have been Stamford Bridge stalwarts during the Abramovich era and the challenge to move forward will be made higher by the increased expectations.
As for Di Matteo, it's amazing the difference a year can make. This time last season he was the failed West Brom boss and the general wisdom was that he'd been a decent winning promotion...but couldn't hack the Premier League.
How wrong was that?
But then so much of management is assessed by the latest results. Earlier on Saturday Sam Allardyce was being hailed for getting West Ham into the Premier League. Personally I couldn't see how scrambling a late Wembley winner after being outplayed for much of the second half was such an achievement. Allardyce had started the campaign with the strongest squad and the biggest budget in the division and dramatically under-achieved until the last few weeks.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is odds-on favourite to be next Aston Villa manager. It seemed for a few hours on Saturday that he'd ruled himself out, but then a more clear translation of a morning press conference suggested he'd done nothing of the sort. His potential appointment has been warmly welcomed by Villa fans. Yet, does winning the Norwegian League really qualify you to take over a big club with a weak squad and not too much money to play with to strengthen it?
Meanwhile Villas Boas, the bloke who messed up Chelsea so comprehensively, is favourite to take over as the new Liverpool boss. And just behind him is Roberto Martinez, whose claim to fame is twice not getting relegated with Wigan.
Not a lot of it makes a lot of sense.
So if Abramovich decided he'd achieved his goal and would keep his hands in his pockets as far as football is concerned from now on, it wouldn't be too hard to blame him.