Andre Villas-Boas Was Right to Try to Sell Petr Cech

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: Petr Cech of Chelsea fails to stop Danny Guthrie of Reading's effort on goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Reading at Stamford Bridge on August 22, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Last year, Andre Villas-Boas was pilloried for trying to sell aging Chelsea players. In regard to Petr Cech, he was right.

AVB's ruination last year was that he wanted to move the emphasis at Chelsea away from the older players like Didier Drogba, John Terry and Petr Cech.

He was sacked in March, with Roberto di Matteo succeeding him and giving owner Roman Abramovich his coveted Champions League title.

It turned out that Villas-Boas made a gross miscalculation with most of the older players at Chelsea, except for one.

There's no denying the Czech Republic goalkeeper is very good. Some supporters and pundits might try to argue he's at a world-class level, but he isn't quite there anymore.

Despite his talent, Cech is prone to spilling the ball, as demonstrated in the Reading match Wednesday.

It would be one thing if it were an isolated incident. Goalkeepers aren't perfect, and they're under a magnifying glass because when they make a mistake, everyone sees it.

However, in the case of Cech, it represents another in a surprising list of gaffes. Along with Danny Guthrie's goal Wednesday, there have been other times when Cech has made himself look rather foolish.

He is clearly a very good goalkeeper, but how many missteps does a player have to make before it becomes a bit of a problem rather than a series of isolated incidents?

Pepe Reina falls in the same category. One moment he'll make a fantastic save; in another, he'll let the ball slip right under his legs, like in a 2010 Europa League match against Steaua Bucharest.

The problem also extends to Cech's command in the box. At times, he seems to have trouble communicating with his back four.

This is how Liverpool scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Chelsea back in February 2011.

Cech and Branislav Ivanovic both went for a Martin Kelly cross at the end of the first half. There was a slight argument later on the pitch. Then, in the 69th minute, Raul Meireles scored the winner off a cross that split both Ivanovic and Cech.

It would be unfair to him to say that he's never been the same since fracturing his skull in 2006. Cech may have looked a little less than himself when returning, but who wouldn't after almost dying as a result of a football injury?

Then there are Cech's high-profile mistakes with the Czech Republic national team.

At Euro 2008, he dropped a cross from Hamit Altintop that led to the equalizer in his country's eventual 3-2 loss to Turkey.

Then, four years later, Cech came off his line to collect an innocuous cross from Georgios Samaras. Instead of scooping the ball up, he ran into his own centre-back, Tomas Sivok, and knocked the ball directly to Theofanis Gekas.

Once again, Cech possesses enough talent to play for most of Europe's biggest clubs. He's only 30 years old, so it's not as if he doesn't have more years left in the tank.

However, it's another goalkeeper that Chelsea would be right to move on.

Thibaut Courtois is rapidly becoming one of the best young keepers in the world.

It was a little over a year ago that the Blues purchased the 19-year-old Courtois from Genk for €6 million. That fee will be looked upon as a massive bargain.

Almost as soon as the transfer was finalized, the Belgian was moved to Atletico Madrid on loan to fill in for the recently departed David de Gea.

Courtois only managed to go on and finish as one of Atletico's best players and a major reason why the club finished as Europa League champions. He helped the club to finish fourth in goals allowed.

It looked as if the Belgian had been playing in Spain his entire career.

Loaning out Courtois made a lot of sense last year. It would be a massive leap for a teenager to go from the Belgian Pro League to the Premier League. Now, though, he is ready to ascend to the first team at Chelsea.

He isn't the finished product yet, but you wouldn't expect that of any 20-year-old.

Chelsea supporters might be a little wary to see such a young player be given the first-team slot after David de Gea's much-criticized first few months at Manchester United.

On the contrary, the situations aren't parallel.

De Gea was much more raw coming into the Premier League and was more or less forced out of Atletico Madrid because of the £18 million they received from the transfer. In all likelihood, de Gea didn't want to leave the Vicente Calderon, made evident by how uncomfortable he was early on with United.

By the time he left Genk, Courtois was ready to move on and prove himself in a much greater showcase. He looked very assured at Atletico Madrid and actually a better prospect than de Gea.

Of course he made some mistakes and got caught out of position, but that's going to happen with a young goalkeeper. He's having the same kind of problems that Cech is continuing to have.

Sooner rather than later, Cech's time at Chelsea will come to an end. Courtois will see to it himself.


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