Andre Villas-Boas: 10 Things His Sacking Means for Chelsea
Given the way his team was performing and the way he had been carrying himself in the media, perhaps this was a long time coming.
And after Saturday’s loss to West Brom, perhaps this was merely a formality.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had signed Villas-Boas on as the man to spearhead Chelsea’s transition into the future, but his tenure at Stamford Bridge has lasted less than nine months.
So what does this say about Chelsea?
Let’s look at ten things Andre Villas-Boas’ dismissal means for Chelsea—and, as usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
Roman Abramovich’s Bold Move Backfired Spectacularly
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On June 22 last year, when Andre Villas-Boas was parachuted into the Chelsea hot seat with much fanfare, it was football’s own fairytale.
Here was a bright young manager who had taken one of Portugal’s most successful clubs to a spectacular season, winning both the Portuguese Primera Liga and the Europa League in his first and only season in charge.
Aged only 33, Villas-Boas had never had any experience in professional football, instead getting his big break in a now-legendary encounter with then Porto boss Sir Bobby Robson when he was only 16.
With an aging squad in desperate need of change, he was supposed to usher in a new, fantastic era at Stamford Bridge.
Nine months on, not only has Roman Abramovich’s decision spectacularly backfired, but it leaves Chelsea in an even more confused state than ever before.
Chelsea’s Focus Is Always on the Short Term
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Perhaps Villas-Boas should have known that he was walking into a whole different environment than Porto.
Having seen Phil Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti’s initially successful reigns at Stamford Bridge come to abrupt ends because of a failure to deliver immediate success. Villas-Boas should have been aware of Abramovich’s trigger-happy tendencies at the top.
But perhaps even he was sold on Abramovich’s vision for a rich Chelsea future. And perhaps Abramovich himself wanted to deviate from his previous policies.
Alas, with Tottenham’s rise into the Top Four and Arsenal’s barnstorming surge back into the European positions, Abramovich suddenly panicked and fell back to his most comfortable state: that of getting what he wants, when he wants it.
And so Chelsea’s focus has not changed after all. They remain painfully shortsighted.
Change Is Not Always Beneficial
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But does this policy actually work to Chelsea’s benefit?
It certainly doesn’t seem so.
As mentioned in the previous slide, former managers Scolari and Ancelotti were let go, in hindsight, far too soon. They had set up a team capable of playing swashbuckling attacking football, and, indeed in the case of Ancelotti, had even won the Double in his first season in charge.
Ancelotti seemed to provide the long-awaited stability to the Chelsea helm after Guus Hiddink had won the FA Cup as caretaker manager, but a stunning lack of foresight from the Chelsea hierarchy meant that Ancelotti would lose his job at the end of his second season.
And it was supposed to lead to a new era under his replacement.
Funny how things don’t always work out as they are meant to.
Jose Mourinho’s Shadow Still Looms Too Large
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Will Villas-Boas’ departure herald a spectacular return for Jose Mourinho?
Mourinho was the manager who first got Chelsea under way, who set up a formidable home record and rendered Stamford Bridge one of the most difficult Premier League venues, and Chelsea one of Europe’s best teams.
Perhaps this unprecedented success still remains too firmly lodged in everyone’s memories.
As has proved to be the case at both Chelsea and his next destination, Inter Milan, Mourinho’s management style and success overshadows his teams, and players. Supporters and owners alike are all too likely to reminisce on a former favorite’s glories.
His untimely visits to London in recent weeks sparked media frenzy with rumors of a potential return, and only confirms that Chelsea just cannot move on from the Special One.
Man Management Will Always Be Key
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Was Mourinho’s biggest talent on the drawing board, or was it his man management?
His legendary defensive setup and counterattacking exploits have won him numerous trophies, but it is his man management style that has won him the praise of many a top player around Europe.
The famous story of Didier Drogba shedding tears upon hearing of Mourinho’s departure back in 2007, among many others, is a cheesy but emblematic example of Mourinho’s impact on his players.
It is telling that Villas-Boas’ reign has been tainted by disagreements with key players, while those same players, along with the entire Chelsea squad, adored Mourinho to death.
With tactical nous and eye for talent so celebrated in the managerial world these days, it is the old art of man management that separates the man from the boys.
Player Power Trumps All at Stamford Bridge
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Of course, those guys in the Chelsea dressing room are no small characters.
Club captain John Terry, midfield legend Frank Lampard and striking icon Didier Drogba are all too likely to express their feelings to the media, and this time it was no exception.
And, much to their credit and much to Villas-Boas’ possible dismay, they remain effective as ever at the top level, which makes leaving them out in favor of exciting youth all the more unjustifiable if a result doesn’t go Chelsea’s way.
We have seen stories about Drogba allegedly giving the half-time team talk and the players switching back to Mourinho’s tactics in betrayal of Villas-Boas high defensive line time and again this season.
Rumors of a fractioned dressing room and player uprisings against the manager in front of Roman Abramovich will certainly not have done Villas-Boas any good.
His successor will have a tough task appealing to all the power-hungry parties at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres Remains in Limbo
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All too emblematic of Chelsea’s troubles are Fernando Torres’ continued woes in front of goal.
Signed for a record-breaking £50 million in a move seemingly brokered directly by Abramovich, Torres failed to fire under Ancelotti, and Villas-Boas was supposed to be the man to guide him back to greatness.
The manager has taken part of the blame already, but will the player find himself in hot water as well?
For any new manager, getting Torres right will be a key part of the job description. Billionaires don’t like their marquee purchases to fail.
Chelsea Will Lose Appeal to Prospective Signings
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If Chelsea has recently developed a reputation for breaking players instead of making them, what does this say to prospective signings?
Add in the constantly-changing backroom at Stamford Bridge, and we see a picture of disharmony, chaos and short-termism at Chelsea, which is sure to disillusion potential targets.
Torres claimed on his arrival that he took the decision to join Chelsea for the silverware and the chance to compete in the Champions League regularly.
Now, not only do Chelsea find themselves likely to miss Champions League football next season, but they don’t look like building continuity capable of any sustained trophy success.
Chelsea Job Is a Poisoned Chalice
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Sadly, this has all but confirmed that the Chelsea managerial position is a poisoned chalice.
How could it not be?
With a trigger-happy owner, a power-hungry dressing room and a misfiring club record signing, Chelsea’s new manager will have it all to do.
And if he fails to deliver silverware immediately, he’ll find himself looking for a job again.
Abramovich might find that his candidate pool is much smaller than he expects.
A Confused Future for Chelsea
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Now Chelsea, and Abramovich, find themselves back at square one.
Looking for a new manager capable of bringing about a change in footballing philosophy and of tackling the dressing room issues, Chelsea find themselves with a mountain to climb.
And they don’t look likely to make fourth place in the league either.
All of this does not bode well at all for the club’s future.
A future that will remain rooted in short-term satisfaction over long-term stability and success.
Tough times for the Chelsea faithful.
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