Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can­not guar­an­tee World Cup glory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

Ro­man Abramovich spends more money on a swanky five-course meal sit­ting than the to­tal of some coun­tries’ GDPs, but here’s one thing that the oli­garch can’t buy: a place for his coun­try at the 2010 World Cup.

If the Repub­lic of Ire­land were the un­lucky vic­tims of fi­nal-night qual­i­fy­ing, then Rus­sia un­doubt­edly were the ma­jor ca­su­al­ties on the evening, hav­ing lost 1-0 away to Slove­nia which elim­i­nated Abramovich’s pride and joy on the away goals rule.

It’s said that Abramovich is bring­ing his huge ocean yacht to nes­tle snugly into a bay on the Cape coast for the 2010 ex­trav­a­ganza, and that he has em­ployed an army of staff and ser­vants to cater for his ev­ery ex­pen­sive need.

Yet, one of the world’s rich­est men is not go­ing to have a side to cheer.

Over re­cent years Abramovich has plashed out more than R7.2 bil­lion in try­ing to make Chelsea the most suc­cess­ful foot­ball club in the world. He might have seen Jose Mour­inho twice hand him the English Premier­ship (af­ter a wait of 50 years) but in his de­mand to have the Euro­pean Cup de­liv­ered, he has gone through a raft of man­agers.

One of them was Guus Hid­dink, the ex­pe­ri­enced Dutch­man who steered Chelsea into calmer wa­ters last sea­son be­fore hand­ing back the reins, af­ter which Car­los Ancelotti was handed the tricky as­sign­ment. Hid­dink had been a care­taker man­ager of sorts, and he re­turned to Rus­sia with the spe­cific task of not only tak­ing Rus­sia to the World Cup, but see­ing them qual­ify for the knock­out stages.

Abramovich is not used to los­ing and cer­tainly is not used to his money be­ing spent without a tan­gi­ble re­turn. He’s in­vested mil­lions into the Rus­sian sys­tem and made Hid­dink a rich man in his own right. Ro­man’s not go­ing to be happy and Hid­dink, surely, won’t be tasked with tak­ing the coun­try to the 2014 World Cup.

With the iden­ti­ties of all 32 coun­tries now known, Abramovich isn’t the only mil­lion­aire cry­ing into his vodka.

Spare a thought for some­one like John O’Shea. The Ir­ish­man might have a cou­ple of English Premier­ship win­ners’ medals in his drawer, but when he re­turns to Manch­ester United train­ing the mag­ni­tude of Ire­land’s un­for­tu­nate de­feat at the hands of France will only then start to hit him.

Or more per­ti­nently, at the hands of Thierry Henry.

While the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ed­win van der Sar, Pa­trice Evra and Rio Fer­di­nand talk in ex­cited terms about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, what does O’Shea do?

Each time the World Cup is men­tioned, ev­ery side bet that is struck, ev­ery tale of how their re­spec­tive coun­tries are go­ing to get their hands on the most prized tro­phy in sport, O’Shea will feel as though a dag­ger is be­ing plunged through his heart.

And that is a sim­i­lar sce­nario right through the English Premier­ship in par­tic­u­lar – for it is the most cos­mopoli­tan league in the world. Yet, it would hurt more if you’re a Manch­ester United, Chelsea, Arse­nal or Liver­pool player.

Th­ese dress­ing rooms are filled with mil­lion­aires and mas­sive egos and it’s not over­stretch­ing the point to sug­gest that some­one like United man­ager, Sir Alex Fer­gu­son, might sit down with O’Shea and ask that the player re­ceives coun­selling to over­come the dis­ap­point­ment.

For Abramovich though, the blow will be far more se­vere than any he has suf­fered to his pocket.

While lost mil­lions can quickly be re­placed by a suc­cess­ful deal bro­kered over break­fast, he will have to wait an­other four years, at the very least, be­fore his beloved, self-funded Rus­sia, can dine at the top ta­ble again.

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