In the last few days, reports have emerged from reputable sources that Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck and Director Marina Granovskaia would be stepping down in the coming days. This isn’t unexpected news, however, what is unexpected is the manner in which many fans are taking the news. Blues supporters seem to be reacting to the news with glee and behaving as though the aforementioned members of the board cannot leave soon enough. You would think this was Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur or even Manchester United, with the way some are behaving. Some of these fans are not just happy to see them go, they speak about their time at the club as though it was laden with strife and incompetence.
Chelsea was taken over by then-new owner Roman Abramovich in 2003, and he finally sold the club this year. In 19 years under the Russian’s watchful eye, the club won every trophy available, bar none. This includes trophies available at the domestic level (Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup), at the continental level (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup) and on the global stage (FIFA Club World Cup). No single individual, other than Abramovich, can be said to have been here throughout that time except two: Buck and Granovskaia.
Chelsea fans have no right to boo Buck and Granovskaia amidst exits
As it is with all clubs, there are always times in every management’s reign that fans get irritated with the board, and that has happened its fair share at Chelsea. However, the Blues’ board in place when new owner Todd Boehly took over had overseen objective and verifiable success for the better part of two decades. Chelsea fans have dreamy memories of iconic, legendary players and managers that have come and gone through the club, but even they were not here from the beginning of the journey until now.
First of all, it is important to note that Abramovich is not English. He’s a Russian oligarch operating as a businessman on foreign soil, and the two things he needs in his company are competence and trust. He had that with Buck and Granovskaia. Those two traits are functions of each other because no hyper-successful businessman trusts an incompetent professional. He did not have to hire Buck and Granovskaia, but he did and they showed it was the right decision over 19 years.
As Director of Chelsea, Granovskaia sanctioned some legendary deals, admittedly, some of which only looked legendary in hindsight. “But but what about deals like Danny Drinkwater and-an … and Kepa Arrizabalaga and … and those other deals that turned out to be complete failures?” … what about them? Every transfer is a gamble. Yes, she sanctioned some deals that ended up adding nothing positive to the Blues, but do you know what other deals she sanctioned? Cesar Azpilicueta, Michael Ballack, Gary Cahill, Petr Cech, Diego Costa, Didier Drogba (twice), Cesc Fabregas, Paulo Ferreira, Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic, N’Golo Kante, David Luiz (twice), John Mikel Obi and every other transfer that turned out to be a success.
Do you ignore all that because of the occasional Davide Zappacosta and Drinkwater? What club has not signed players that failed? Can Granovskaia’s record be compared to that of some clubs in England and Europe? Can her record be compared to FC Barcelona, who approved wage raises until the club could not register the best player of the past decade? The Chelsea board Abramovich put in place was a constant through all of the past 19 years and the success the club enjoyed was because of them, not despite them.
Of course, it’s often that this fanbase looks at the old with disdain and disregard, and the new with fawn and adulation. But they need to learn to give entities credit and let them go. There’s nothing wrong with wanting Buck Granovskaia gone—they were never going to be here forever anyway—but to boo them out and regard them as though they were flailing incompetent professionals that were out of their depth is insincere and thoroughly disrespectful.
These individuals were there for as long as they were because they were good at their jobs. Like, extremely good. Granovskaia made Atletico Madrid pay £40 million for an Alvaro Morata that scored just 24 goals for the Blues in 72 games. She made Real Madrid essentially pay £130 million for a Hazard that was in the final year of his contract. She brought Hazard and Kante to Chelsea for a combined £64 million—let that one sink in.
So what if she was not perfect, who at Chelsea has been over 19 years? Who, anywhere, is perfect in that period of time? Many fans cite the European Super League as a reason to hate and abuse board members. Yet, the Super League is happening on English soil, and it’s called the Premier League. It is also about to happen anyway from the 2023/24 season masterminded by UEFA itself and it’ll just call it the Champions League. Abramovich was unable to enter Britain, and subsequently England, for an uncomfortable amount of time, and he trusted the board to continue running the club in his absence. It did—excellently.
The problem is not a refusal to want these board members to stay, nor is it a willingness to want them gone, no. The problem is a refusal to give them the credit they deserve, regardless of particular decisions they have made in the past. The problem is the mindset that because of personal opinions, fans can disrespect and boo out long-standing members of the club because there’s a new thing in town. It is outrageous and unacceptable.