Whac-A-Mole is an arcade game in which you swing a hammer at moles which pop-up all over a board and you try knock them back down into their hole. It’s a frantic game because no matter how fast you hit one mole, another one pops up.
Does that remind you of Chelsea’s manager search?
Every time we think we have an idea about who they really want, up pops another candidate, like those infernal moles which won’t stay in their holes. It’s Saturday and the current mole count for the week stands at four. First it was Maurizio Sarri. But when we didn’t hand Napoli his €8m buyout by Thursday’s midnight deadline, it switched to Laurent Blanc. That was Friday. By Saturday two old names had popped-up again, names we thought we’d disposed of long ago.
First came Fulham’s Slavisa Jokanovic, of B-list fame. And then later on Saturday, the mole that just won’t stay in his hole, Luis Enrique, poked his head up again. Spanish outlet Sport, who tend to have a good handle on all things Barca, claim that the former Blaugrana boss is back talking to Chelsea again (for either the second or third time, it’s hard to keep track) and could sign a three-year contract as early as next week.
Enrique could agree contract terms with Chelsea in the coming days. (Sport) #CFC— Bridge News (@cfc_wale) June 2, 2018
The problem with Enrique, the reason he was the early front-runner but then dropped out, was reportedly two-fold. One, he wanted crazy money, with €15m being tossed around. Two, he’s about as flexible and easy-going with his clubs as Antonio Conte. Given that Conte’s attitude is probably the primary reason he’s on his way out, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Enrique.
And yet here he is, surfacing again.
There are some problems with this story that are worth mentioning. One, if Enrique really is demanding €15m yearly, that’s not terribly different from paying Sarri’s €8m buyout and Conte’s €10m severance. If Chelsea would really rather have Sarri, is the difference that important?
Another issue is Sport itself. As we said, they’re generally pretty good when it comes to anything in the Barca universe. But they’re not perfect. In 2013 they claimed that the Catalans wanted to buy Fernando Torres off of us. Yeah. Bit of a credibility hit, that.
And finally, this whole game of Whac-A-Mole isn’t inconsistent with our Grand Unifying Theory for our bizarre managerial search. In short, Chelsea like being associated with other potential coaches because that way it doesn’t look like we’re interfering with Sarri’s contract with Napoli, thus theoretically making it easier for him to sue them (for constructive dismissal?) to be set free.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us anxiously peering at our Whac-A-Mole board, hammer in hand, waiting to see who pops-up next, because this crazy game doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.