Andre Villas-Boas: 5 Reasons Chelsea Were Right to Sack Him
By now, you are well aware that Andre Villas-Boas’ position as the Chelsea manager has been terminated after only eight months in charge. The former Porto boss was having a tough time finding his touch that he had so perfectly with his former clubs in England and was axed for it.
There has been quite a schism amongst the Chelsea fan base about if we should be more concerned about the failures of now or long-term plans. That debate will not change, but will be versed in a new way – should or should Villas-Boas not have been sacked.
If you have read any of my articles at all over, well, entire season, you would know that I am okay with this move. Though it may not look logical for the long-term, it is somewhat of a utopian future that his supporters imagine that ignore the reality of the present.
Whether the move was right or wrong, no one will be able to know, so all we are armed now with is our opinions.
Here are five reasons why who he is now would have not benefited the club in the future, thus justifying the move.
Lack of Experience
I want to start by saying I do not think Villas-Boas is going to end his career at Chelsea. I actually think he could one day become a really excellent manager. Heck, the biggest way this move can bite Chelsea in the butt is when he does achieve success and his team embarrasses the club!
But right now, he is nowhere near the level required to run a club of this magnitude.
With only one season of managing a top team, he never experienced player egos, fan wrath, irrational owners, top European sides, a brutal media, huge money transfers, sustained play against even competition, weather issues, managers beyond his caliber, racial suspensions, significant injuries, idiots with too much time on their hands who sit in front of their computers writing articles, the shadow of a past, the prospect of a future, living up to huge expectations, managing players who don’t live up to expectations and, of course, crappy English food.
Think of it like this: would a Fortune 500 company make a 30-year-old their CEO because he made one good deal? No. He gets promoted, makes another one, gets promoted again and again until he gets to be CEO.
To no fault of Villas-Boas’, he skipped the ladder that most mangers have to go through and was immediately given the key to one of the biggest clubs in the world. He had little hope of ever recovering at the first sight of trouble.
This falls squarely on the feet of Roman Abramovich himself. The in-style Russian is always looking to be the trend setter and ignored everything I listed above to grab the flavor of the month before everyone else.
Really the person who made the biggest mistake was Abramovich himself.
Stubbornness in Tactics
This has been the most pressing point for me as I defended my stance that Villas-Boas is not only not working now, but he will not in the future.
Whatever he did with Porto worked and it worked excellently. Their unbeaten campaign was historic and only bettered by Jose Mourinho’s Champions League year.
But Chelsea is not Porto and the EPL is not the Portuguese league. His failure to understand this was his undoing and fundamental flaw.
Building for the future is a fine prospect, but it is not something that will go over smoothly with fans as the team drops further and further away from Champions League next season. There comes a point in the season when he had to recognize that his future is more dependent on the present than he may have predicted.
In truth, for as much as this team has been awful this season, they are still the same squad, plus Juan Mata, Gary Cahill, Oriol Romeu and Daniel Sturridge that was within a David Luiz-error away from winning the league less than a year ago. This fall from grace cannot honestly be put on only the players when they are looking at their results and the only non positive change being with the coach.
The 4-3-3 that he used with players like Hulk, Falcao, Mourinho and every other top Portuguese league player worked for those players!
It became obvious even before the winter had begun that it would not have the same effect with Chelsea. Yet, he refused to budge.
If you want to argue that he is planning for the future that’s fine, but what happens when, in that future, Villas-Boas is again outwitted and his players are not able to play the 4-3-3 effectively? What makes you think by anything he has done this season that he will be willing to adapt and change in the future?
Managing is not about perfecting a style of play; it is about being able to put your players in the best position to win the game. Never once did Villas-Boas exhibit this quality.
Questionable in-Game Moves
This is the one thing that I feel most Chelsea fans have taken issue with the manager over.
At Porto, Villas-Boas clearly had the best team. He had to do little during the game to make adjustments as his superior players were always able to out-duel the competition on skill alone.
This is not the case at Chelsea or any English team for that matter. He was never able to fully understand or at least correctly make in-game moves that would help the team get positive results.
His most glaring misjudgment came against Manchester United, where, if the team was able to keep intact their 3-0 lead with a half hour to go, he would surely be managing today. Instead he failed to keep up with Alex Ferguson’s moves and looked like a novice playing a grand master in chess.
But it is not some historically intelligent move by Ferguson that gave them the draw. It was the same thing he had done dozens of times before – bring on Javier Hernandez and drop back Rooney. With a three-goal lead, every manager and fan in the world knew the move was coming and would want to counter it by telling Ramires or whoever would the holding mid to stick on Rooney like one of his hair plugs.
Instead, Villas-Boas kept with his 4-3-3, giving Rooney plenty of space in the midfield to roam and make three goals happen on his own.
Even yesterday’s match to West Brom, Chelsea were outplayed and what did Villas-Boas do? Bring on an increasingly disinterested Florent Malouda and keep the same shape.
Villas-Boas may be an excellent scout and good footballing mind, but he clearly lacks the wherewithal to actually adjust when it is needed most.
Poor Player Management Sense
Managing athletes of this caliber is a two-way street, but Villas-Boas tried to tack up a one way sign. This notion that “I am manager, you respect me” is as antiquated as the humble athlete himself.
There is too much money, fame, power and media to ever be able to control the thoughts of your players and keep things in house. So to make sure they don’t get the public to turn on you, you have to respect them back.
I am going to skip over what he did to Alex and Anelka, two players that are much, much happier where they are now, and just get straight to where the issue took off.
The calls have come for Frank Lampard to be gotten rid of for his speaking out on the manager, but very few have come to the defense of the best midfielder the team has ever had. He has been demonized as some kind of torrent-making issue in the locker room and splitting it into two camps.
However, where I scratch my head is that we as fans want to rid ourselves of the little history we have and side with someone who has not history to begin with. I understand the need for change, but do it the right way. Do it the Manchester United way!
Ferguson has been able to make Ryan Giggs a role player, but only because they win. Why would Giggs be upset that he is sitting when his team is winning? And then when they did not win what did Fergie do? Give Paul Scholes a call and what do you know, they win again.
We mock Mario Balotelli for being passive in his acceptance of the bench when he first came to City, but we chastise Lampard when the competitor in him wants to be on the field to help turn around his team?
But why is Villas-Boas not taking some of the heat for letting this happen in the first place? It is his responsibility to keep it together and he did nothing of the sort.
If he is so confident in his tactics that don’t need Lampard, then why did he not get rid of him during the transfer windows? Sure I would have raised holy heck as well as many, but he should feel confident knowing that wins would silence us all.
But in the end he decided to keep him and instead of alienating him, he should have made every attempt possible to him, management and the public to make sure that he unites everyone under one belief. Whether that means giving in a little to get him back in form or doing what Mancini did to Tevez.
Inaction is the worse possible response and proved that he does not yet know how to manage these type of players.
So I am assuming the naysayers are yelling “get rid of the hot heads!” But what happens when the next bunch comes in? How will Villas-Boas ever be able to recruit talent without bringing egos with them? It can be done, but it also limits the kind of prospects you have.
And from another perspective, what kind of player would want to play for a manager that has proven he has trouble dealing with his players?
These are the kind of questions that should have been raised back when he first banished two players who have been nothing but stand up guys for the club. Instead we let it boil and eventually burn and now, today, we are left without a coach or future.
An Unsubstantiated Ego
The argument has come forward a many great times—all great managers have huge egos.
Yes, but were those egos earned or forged? Villas-Boas, in his short time in charge of any club, has seemed to have done the latter.
There is an entire website that lists all of the quotes and clips the manager has made since he first arrived at the club all the way through his sacking today. Not only is it an interesting chronology that could be studied in the way humans defended themselves (he becomes increasingly more hostile as time goes on), but it is plastered with the kind of words you would expect out of some the game’s best minds.
Criticism to refs, players, opposing coaches, the FA and even Abramovich himself would make you think that he has some sort of greatness to his name. Not that he was the winner of a sub-par league and Europe’s runner-up trophy.
Sir Alex Ferguson has made all these same criticisms, but can back it with more trophies than years Villas-Boas has been alive.
Pep Guardiola similarly has come under fire in Spain for being biased, but when you have the best team in the world, you are given some slack.
We all remember our own Jose Mourinho declare himself the “Special One” in his first press conference with the club. He met those expectations at Stamford Bridge and beyond.
Villas-Boas does not have a fraction of the pedigree that these names have or even most in the Premier League. What give him the audacity to speak with the same tongue and tone as those greats?
This ego contributed to everything I mentioned above and more.
The players will not respect him as he bemoans their accomplishments with none of his own.
His tactics never change as he is certain his are right.
He refuses to admit he is clearly in over his head.
His ego has made him blind to reality.
Ultimately this is the reason I believe this firing will actually benefit the club now and in the future.
What Does the Sacking Mean to You?
If you know my opinions at all from my previous articles, none of this is new. These are all sentiments that I have felt and written on for quite some time. But as a reader of mine, you know that what I want out of my pieces more than anything is a good debate.
The Andre Villas-Boas era ended almost as soon as it began. Whether you feel it was much too short or even too long, please make your comments known below.
But like I said, this is room for a discussion debate. If you want to come on and shun my opinions or the opinions of anyone else without supplying your own respectful insight, this is not the place for you.
If you want to discover what this means going forward for the team, the club, and most importantly, the fans, then you have come to the right place!
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