Just imagine. You’ve hired a brilliant new writing talent, smashing the editorial budget and throwing your already loss-making business further into the red. But hey, you have to speculate to accumulate, you say to the board of directors.
Better yet, this new star first worked for you as a junior before being prematurely bundled up out of the nest to make a name for himself elsewhere. Now he’s back dragging clouds of glory. You can claim kudos in the âthis is one of usâ issue as he enthusiastically talks about âcoming homeâ and âunfinished businessâ. Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?
But then you find out that your costly investment has been on TikTok / Twitter / WordPress / Reddit / Radio / TV (tick the appropriate box) serenading his former employers and lamenting that his talents are being misused by you.
Worse than that, he doesn’t even rate your business very much and, swiping to the right like someone on Tinder, he’s telling the world that there are at least three competitors everyone would rather work for.
It also doesn’t inform you that it said these things, which are in the public domain only 48 hours before one of the most important trade dates on your calendar. Add to that the fact that your employee constantly misses their deadlines and goals, seems to have lost the magic touch that tempted you to rehire them, and has a low attendance rate. Chances are, right, you didn’t feel particularly shocked by your decision to bring him back into the fold?
Granted, working for a newspaper and a football team aren’t all that similar, except in at least two crucial ways. They are both collaborative efforts, and morale makes a big contribution to performance.
The interview, given surreptitiously by Romelu Lukaku toalmost three weeks ago, but broadcast, usefully, just days before Chelsea’s most important game of the season with Liverpool, persuaded a coterie of experts to deplore the Belgian transported to the coals for expressing “a honest opinion “.
They deplore the indignity of Lukaku, the “last piece of the puzzle” of 115 million euros for West Londoners, forced to undertake the football equivalent of a hostage video, as well as the fine of â¬ 350,000 for a week’s salary. “We should encourage our football stars to speak out,” the rhetoric continues.
Well, to deploy Del Boy Trotter’s phrase that Boris Johnson used specifically to annoy Emmanuel Macron with great effect: âGive me a break. “
Timing in life, like on the penalty bench, that’s it. And Lukaku’s interview was about as awkward as many of his races this season.
There are very few companies in which it is permissible to face your boss publicly, let alone drag your cape so visibly to other employers.
It’s no wonder, then, that things went wrong with Thomas Tuchel who has had a relatively quiet 12 months by Stamford Bridge standards since moving from Paris to London.
And if Romelu Lukaku had any doubts as to which side Chelsea supporters, management hierarchy and senior professionals would come down to, then he has now been disillusioned.
In the modern and hectic history of the club, there has been a tradition of player interests with a sense of entitlement overriding the wishes of managers and coaches, even some of the best managers and coaches in contemporary football. Lukaku’s episode rekindled memories of it and made a popular podcaster wonder if âTactics Tomâ will be here this summer. If it is a direct race between the Bavarian man and the Antwerp striker, Chelsea supporters will choose the manager who won them their second Champions League rather than the center-forward who has missed the crucial Super Cup penalty against Bayern Munich in 2013.
They love Tuchel. They like that it looks like a cross between a German synthesizer and Skeletor from Masters of the Universe; that he beat Pep Guardiola three times in seven weeks last year; that he encouraged the young players of the academy; that he has a modern tactical approach and that he has a sharp wit and a sense of humor. They love that he sent a clear message to a dear player who failed to captivate upon his return.
About 48 years ago there was a very public falling out between a Chelsea manager and two crowd favorites. Peter Osgood and Alan Hudson were transferred but within nine months Dave Sexton, the man who won Chelsea their first FA Cup and first European trophy, was sacked.
âThe day Mears backed Sexton against Hudson and Osgood was the start of the end, 20 years in the wilderness losing continuously to lesser clubs,â said famed Chelsea benefactor the late Matthew Harding.
There is no sense that there would be a corresponding schism if Lukaku left. But if he wants to, as he said, rebuild bridges with support, then next Wednesday at White Hart Lane would be a good place to start. The comedy club defending by Tottenham in this week’s first leg has clouded the reality that Big Rom was a marginal figure and missed a goal. Redemption Road starts at London N17.