Andre Villas Boas – Out Before Easter?

It’s a familiar story: Chelsea hire a new manager for a lot of money, Chelsea don’t do as well under this manager as they did under Jose Mourinho, rumours  then begin to circle claiming that the manager is about to be fired and then finally (the bit that hasn’t quite happened yet) the manager is fired.

According to reports, it cost Abramovic a total of £28 million to replace Carlo Ancelotti with the 34-year-old Andres Villas-Boas. Even on Abramovic’s astronomical terms, that is a VERY expensive mistake if he actually does go on to fire him. So why has a manager who won a total of 4 trophies at Porto in less than a year had such a hard time at Chelsea?

When he was first brought in, it was with the message from the owners that his aim should be to reinvent the club- to start off a new project. For a 34-year-old that was always going to be a mammoth task mainly due to the fact that club’s expectations for instant success are generally unreasonable.

So what has gone wrong? Well Chelsea are heading for an early knock-out from the Champions League and are in a tight race for top 4- rather than the title race, that’s what’s “gone wrong.” I would argue that the first of these really isn’t such a bad failure. No-one could have expected such a newly shaped team to come in and win the Champion’s League straight off -they’ve actually done much better than other English clubs in even just progressing from the group stages.

The league is another matter, Champions League qualification is a must for AVB if he wants to remain at the club and at the moment it is looking iffy. Sitting in 5th place at this point in the season is something that will inevitably unnerve fans and players alike, but the chairman simply has to give him a chance to turn it around. He has come in for the long term, so give him a proper opportunity to prove himself. He still has every chance of keeping Champions League football at the club.

Why has it gone wrong? Naivety. He was naive to think that he could change the whole mentality of the club in just a couple of months of pre-season without accounting for certain members of the squad resisting said change and also the fact that the squad as a whole just might not be ready yet.

At Porto he liked to play a very exact 4-3-3 formation, one that cannot easily be adjusted. A tactic that requires certain types of players for certain positions. You don’t need to be Einstein to realize that the Chelsea squad is very different to that of Porto which has left him with a couple of tactical problems  that AVB has never really fully addressed (Such has not having two speedy, ball playing at Centre Back.)

Mourinho’s legacy is one that is personified by Cole, Lampard, Terry and Drogba. Three, once quality, players that say a lot about how it once was at the club. The trouble is that these 3 players combined now arguably have more power than any manager coming into the club.It’s clear that a couple of these players are not in AVB’s long term plan for the club, yet rather than keeping them onside and using them cleverly he has managed to let them turn against him. As shown by some of their body language and press conferences. This was naive, but just shows how hard it is for a new manager coming into such a club.

The choice that the chairman has to make is a simple one. Stick or twist? The case for twist is short-sighted; Chelsea haven’t won enough football matches so let’s sack the manager. It will leave them manager-less mid-season with no obvious replacement.  The case for stick is a far better one..

…His job was to bring in a new era and to start a new project a Chelsea, evidently the take-off has clearly not been clean, but that doesn’t mean to say that they aren’t going places. Next to no-one in world football has the potential that Villas-Boas has as a manager, he’s already shown that he can win trophies and that his understanding of the game is brilliant.

Yes he may be rough around the edges at this moment in time, but so was Sir Alex when he first came to Manchester United. Given time to build his own squad and to shape the team how he wants it to be shaped, Chelsea could achieve more than they ever have done.

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