Roman Abramovich has sacked André Villas-Boas after a string of poor results that has left Chelsea fifth in the league table. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion left Chelsea three points behind Arsenal with 11 games to go.
Villas-Boas’s assistant, Roberto Di Matteo, has been appointed the new first team coach until the end of the season. Villas-Boas was Chelsea’s least successful manager since Abramovich bought the club, with Chelsea having won less than 50 percent of the games played under him. It’s a dreadful record and while it doesn’t explain everything that has gone on beyond the scenes, it does show that regardless of player power issues, Villas-Boas simply needed to do better with the resources he had at his disposal.
While the move had been coming (in part because of a players’ mutiny and partially because of a clear media agenda against Villas-Boas), the cost of this change will be heavier than usual for Chelsea FC. Just eight months ago Chelsea, having terminated (i.e. paid off) Carlo Ancelotti’s contract, had paid Porto £13.3m to bring Andre Villas-Boas to Stamford Bridge. Some sources suggest that the total cost of changing managers in the summer was around £28m – and it will rise after Chelsea pay off AVB’s bumper contract.
All of this makes you wonder – why not ship out the players that are clearly not cutting it at Chelsea – instead of chopping and changing managers? There has been nothing to suggest that Chelsea have learned something new about AVB since hiring him, it’s more of an experiment that they’ve deemed unsuccessful and now want to discard, regardless of the costs involved.
When the club say that “….the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season”, who do they hold accountable? The players who have collectively failed to reach expectations for the last few years despite being given sufficient chances, or the managers who have had very little time to shape the team according to their tactics and have been punished for not performing miracles with failing players at the drop of a hat?
I’m happy to accept that the Chelsea top brass know more about what’s going on in the team than anyone on the outside, but surely changing managers is not the answer when it’s the players who are the problem? Chelsea have been let down by their players, although it’s the fans who will suffer. I doubt AVB will be bothered by his payout, and he will surely find a nice job somewhere on the continent where the owner(s) are more patient. £10m+ for eight months worth of work is not a bad deal at all.