Column: Chelsea’s Abramovich, sugar dad with teeth

Some billionaires build luxury yachts, some buy art, some donate to charity. Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich is said to do all those but collects the scalps of soccer managers, too.

And why not? Because if there is one thing the super-rich have in common, it is that their money allows them to do pretty much what they want, how they want, when they want. They don’t have to settle for second best.

Andre Villas-Boas knew that when he agreed to work for Abramovich at Chelsea.

“I will be surprised to be kept on the job if I don’t win,” the man quickly dubbed “AVB” by the British media said when Chelsea hired him eight months ago.

The managerial contract Villas-Boas signed last June said three years, but the truth was that his tenure was only ever going to be as long as Abramovich’s short patience.

So let’s not go overboard with the crocodile tears over the sacking this weekend of AVB. Seven losses and seven draws in 27 Premier League games was never going to be good enough.

Villas-Boas either must or should have known he had this coming.

He looked drained and strained but tried to sound optimistic after what proved to be his final Chelsea game, a 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

“In football, there is joy, there is pain and there is another chance,” he said.

Not this time.

His dismissal cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a tragedy, not least because he is expected to be richly compensated for Abramovich’s change of heart.

Nor, as the head of the English managers’ union dramatically claimed, is it “a serious embarrassment to the owner, the club, the fans and the league” that Abramovich is now seeking his eighth manager in nine years of owning the club.

No, with sugar daddies, being able to chop and change just goes with the territory.

English soccer has been more than happy for wealthy benefactors from around the world to buy up its marquee clubs and, as Abramovich did at Chelsea, soak up their debts and use their rubles, Thai baht, dirhams and dollars to make them competitive again.

Chelsea fans didn’t care where Abramovich’s money came from. They celebrated their good fortune by wearing Russian fur hats.

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