Alternate Football History – Roman heads to North London

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What would have happened if Roman Abramovich had chosen Tottenham over Chelsea in 2003?

Since Roman Abramovich took control of Chelsea in 2003, the London club have won the Premier League on five occasions and the Champions League once. He has spent more than £1 billion in his time at the top of the club. It could be argued that without him, Chelsea may not be quite the force they are today.

It was rumored that the Russian oligarch held discussions with Daniel Levy at Tottenham over potentially taking over at White Hart Lane, if he had then what today’s football landscape look like? Let’s investigate further.

Tottenham in 2003 were managed by former England manager Glenn Hoddle and had just finished 10th in the Premier League. This was 6 places lower than Abramovich’s future club Chelsea, this would mean that Tottenham were not competing at the top table of European football. This may have influenced Abramovich to look elsewhere but it may have given the Russian a blank canvas to build a team like the one he would create for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

As for players, Tottenham had some talented squad members in 2003. Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Keane scored over 10 goals each in the previous year and were both capable of scoring more in the future. Couple the foundations with the spending power of Abramovich and there is potential for Spurs to create a dynasty similar to that of their London rivals.

With Glenn Hoddle in charge, Tottenham had a manager who could take them back to the top tier of English football but he would eventually find himself ousted with David Pleat taking over in the interim. This may be the case if Roman Abramovich had taken over as he removed Claudio Ranieri from his role and he was achieving better results than his North London counterpart.

Chelsea in 2003 were performing admirably, qualifying for the Champions League and brought together a solid squad of players. Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and John Terry were all solid players and formed a quality, English spine for the club. Without Abramovich, they may not have had the backing, especially as Ken Bates would go on to Leeds and take them to League One and administration.

Chelsea, with their squad of talented young players, will need to restructure a playing squad as they would not receive the financial backing from Bates that they would receive from Abramovich. Lampard and Terry were both trailed by European elites for several years and they may have to look for opportunities to earn the wages of top players.

In summary, Tottenham and Chelsea had significant potential to become the heir apparent to the Premier League and Abramovich held the keys to unlock that potential. He chose Chelsea and Stamford Bridge which ushered in a period of dominance, for Tottenham, there is a chance that the same could have happened for the North London club.

How do you think Roman Abramovich would have changed Tottenham’s fortunes?
What do you think would happen if Chelsea weren’t bought by the Russian tycoon?
Let me know your thoughts and what situation you want to see covered this season.

Featured Image Source: John Dobson

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Attribution: By John Dobson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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