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Abramovich Losing Influence at Chelsea
Times Online, February 16th, 2007 2:58PM

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It's the return of the king at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich seemed to have lost his interest in the Premier League champions after the spat between he and Manager Jose Mourinho was made public in early January, but now, the London Times reports the two are set to meet this week for the first time since then. The two have barely spoken during that time, and it's been widely rumored that Mourinho plans to leave Chelsea at the end of the season. Abramovich, meanwhile, had abandoned his ritual of visiting the Chelsea locker room ever since the club's 4-0 home victory against Wigan Athletic on Jan. 13. In fact, he hasn't attended a single Chelsea game since then, missing an unprecedented six successive matches.

This would suggest that Mourinho is on his way out. However, the Portuguese manager has big-time clout in the form of fan and player support. Captain John Terry has repeatedly said publicly that he doesn't want to see Mourinho go, as have other key players Chelsea's squad. The Times wonders whether Abramovich's influence at Stamford Bridge is waning altogether. Indeed, Mourinho has used his popularity as leverage to say virtually anything he wishes, including publicly criticizing Chelsea's management for cutting off funding in the transfer market and deferring to so many other advisers. Abramovich, meanwhile, has been known to loathe confrontation, so his recent disappearance could be taken as a sign of unwillingness to deal with the situation. Read the original story...


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