Jamie Carragher has hit back at what he believes is the ‘hypocrisy’ of Chelsea fans unhappy with his suggestion Manchester United should target Thomas Tuchel.
Responding to the news that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had been sanctioned, plunging the Stamford Bridge club into turmoil, Carragher argued United should seek to take advantage by pursuing Tuchel as their next manager.
“It’s fair to say that l had a few heated discussions at Stamford Bridge on Sunday [when Sky Sports covered their match with Newcastle],” said Carragher on Monday Night Football.
“The Chelsea fans are very passionate about their club and at this moment feel like the world is attacking them, and they are defending their club. I totally get that. But l wouldn’t change my opinion on it.
“And the reason l think it’s a little bit hypocritical of Chelsea supporters is because if teams – such as Manchester United with the manager, or other clubs with the players – are going to take advantage of the situation that Chelsea are in right now, Chelsea have been doing that for 20 years.
“That was the big thing of Roman Abramovich coming – ‘we can throw our money about and get who we want’.
“The first thing they did was go to Manchester United and take Peter Kenyon as their CEO. ‘We’ll go to Liverpool and take the best midfielder in Europe and destabilise that club for two summers’ – they didn’t get him. ‘We’ll get Ashley Cole, an Invincible who has won everything at Arsenal. Yeah, we’ll go and get him. We get caught tapping up? Doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the fine’.
“England, flying at the time with Sven-Goran Eriksson. ‘England manager? No, we want him as Chelsea manager. Don’t worry about what he’s doing with the FA, we want him and we’ll pay the fine’.
“Chelsea have taken advantage of every other club in the last 20 years because of Roman Abramovich.
“So if l give an opinion on someone taking advantage of them, that is just a way of life. That’s the way it may be for Chelsea and you have to accept that.
“Some of the things we’ve seen at Chelsea, such as closing the club shop and stopping kids from getting Mason Mount on the back of their shirts, I don’t agree with that and I certainly don’t want Chelsea to go to the wall.
“But, if that’s my opinion of it, I certainly don’t want Chelsea fans questioning that opinion next time I go there because it’s exactly what they have done for the last 20 years.”
Neville: Chelsea situation is a wake-up call
Gary Neville hopes the government will allow Chelsea to be sold but admits events surrounding Abramovich’s ownership have served as a wake-up call – both for football as a whole and for himself personally – about where the game’s money comes from.
“I agree with what Jamie said, there’s no way Chelsea can go bust,” he said. “The government are going to have to ease the restrictions if needs be. I can’t see how a £3 billion sale can go through in the next 15, 16 days, which is apparently the amount of time Chelsea have.
“I think the government know that Chelsea Football Club, with hundreds of years of history, a fanbase behind them, an important part of the local community, cannot go bust.
“They’re going to have to make sure that a sale goes through and that a new owner is found and obviously whatever happens with the proceeds is up to the government.
“But it’s a massive wake-up call, these last few weeks, for football, and a massive wake-up call for me and my historical position on new money coming into English football.
“It’s improved the competitive landscape enormously over the last 20 years.
“I’m a fan of the traditional elite – Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool – but I welcomed Jack Walker’s money at Blackburn and Roman Abramovich’s money at Chelsea, and the fact Manchester City have come in and challenged the elite.
“We’ve got an unbelievable Premier League with great football teams and we have benefitted from that. Globally, the Premier League is seen as a model for everywhere.
“I’ve also seen that when nation states have come into English football, they have improved communities around them, as has happened in east Manchester with Manchester City; as hopefully will happen with Newcastle.
“When that ‘sportswashing’ term has been mentioned, I’ve maybe seen it naively, that we could have a positive impact through sport on the communities and local people in the countries that are investing, that we could actually make their lives better somehow, and that those states would soften their hard stances on their appalling behaviours and that we would try and make positive change through sport.
“However, in the last two or three weeks, those views have been greatly tested, to the point whereby I’m even thinking that [this issue] is coming hurtling down the street at football.
“The Premier League won’t know what to do this and, to be fair, I can see why.
“I can imagine the executives of the Premier League sat there looking at their owners and saying, ‘What do we do with this situation?’
“You’ve got Chinese money sat over here, you’ve got Russian money sat over here, you’ve Abu Dhabi money sat over here, and you’ve obviously got Saudi money at Newcastle.
“They will be sat there very nervously thinking, ‘We don’t want to set a precedent here, what do we do?’
“The Premier League only reacted after the government had sanctioned Chelsea and removed Roman Abramovich as a director. They weren’t proactive, which is not leadership, because they don’t know what to do on this subject.”
Neville now expects stricter rules and regulations to be put into place in order to more closely scrutinise prospective owners and the origins of their money.
“Football has got a big problem because I don’t think it’s going to be accepted anymore,” he added.
“I think there will be an independent regulator put into football.
“Super League, Saudi money, Russian money, Bury, Derby, lack of sustainability, lack of real-time financial monitoring, lack of fit and proper person tests… football is absolutely coming under huge scrutiny.
“It isn’t just a football problem, but football is a massive part of this country’s fabric and it’s going to be an issue in the next couple of years.
“I suspect if you’re Abu Dhabi in Manchester, if you’re Saudi Arabia in Newcastle, you’re going to be doing your risk assessments as we speak, thinking ‘What’s going to happen?'”