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Villas-Boas got this job by having a historic season at Porto. There he won the treble by a considerable margin in all competitions, with a team that was firing on all cylinders. But part of the reason why he was able to have such success is because he played a 4-3-3 formation with a high defensive line and very swift attacking front.
That front line had the likes of Falcao and Hulk and the back was anchored by Rolando and Pereira. It was a machine geared for explosiveness and always going forward with pace and control.
Part of the reason Villas-Boas was brought to Chelsea was to enact this system here.
Trophies have been won over the past decade, but it was always on the back of stalwart defending and a bruising attack that pounded defenses into submission. Abramovich wanted the personality of the club to be more likes the Barcas of the world and figured Villas-Boas was the man to do it.
The problem is Hulk, Falcao, Rolando, Moutinho and the rest aren’t on Chelsea. You have Lampard, Terry, Cole and Drogba. Man for man I think there is little doubt that the Chelsea contingent far out succeeds anything the boys from Porto have, but for some reason they look terrible this season.
To make a simple analogy, Villas-Boas is trying to fit square pegs into a round hole.
You can’t just expect to throw pieces together on to a field and think it will work. This is not FIFA 12. You have to make sure you are placing your players in the best position to excel at what they do best, not what you want them to do.
It is obvious that the 4-3-3 attack is not working with this group of players. We can all argue on and on about how he needs the right players. But buying up a squad is not only unlikely in the day of FIFA's Financial Fair Play rules, but also risky should some of the players not fit as well as you had expected.
But say you can wave a magic wand and buy Hulk, Goetze, Hazard, Cahill, Pato, Robinho, etc. and all the players play great together and fit the system perfectly. That still does not change the fact that he his personality has been too stubborn to adapt when those players are shut down.
In this league there are too many good teams that play a variety of styles to just perfect one way of playing. You need to be well versed in many forms.
Against a side like United, a midfield of perhaps four or five players is necessary to make sure you don’t get beat on the counter. Against City, you had better have two forwards that can play off one another against a very athletic back line. Against a lower side, play with a midfield that control the ball as not to get beat on a giveaway, which really is the only way a team like Wigan can hurt you.
It just is dumbfounding to me personally how obstinate Villas-Boas is being about trying out new systems to play. Other managers never have to second-guess their squads or formations because they already know what they are facing when they play Villas-Boas.
It is all fine that he wants to a certain style of play to become the Chelsea way, but every team has multiple formations and styles they can fall back on should their primary way be off. Villas-Boas is yet to prove he is a dynamic manager in this sense.