Yet another season gone by, and the post-season review brings back moments from the seasons long gone. Arsenal, living up to their tag of chokers, relinquishing yet another strong position in the league inspite of showing flashes of absolute ingenuity, Chelsea losing steam in the December period, (not because of the Cup of African Nations though) and then firing their manager for avoidable and trivial errors and then the Big 4 similar to the 2009-2010 season, were given a real run for their money by hugely improved sides like Tottenham and Manchester City.
But as we now enter the off season, where transfers and managerial changes take centre stage, we look towards the appointment of a man who could make a massive impact in the season to come. Andre Villas Boas experienced a dream last season, almost like Barca’s Pep Guardiola’s debut season, showing that youthful flair does indeed do wonders in terms of management. Leading a strong and classy FC Porto to a treble, he crafted a team which hardly broke a sweat in the whole Europa League campaign except in the final where Sporting Braga gave them a respectable fight.
So what exactly can we expect from Villas Boas at the helm of one of the toughest managerial positions to have? What makes him different from the other front runners for the job like Guus Hiddink, Marco van Basten and other experienced tacticians? Here’s a break down at 5 factors which could make Villas Boas, the best signing of the summer:
First of all, the most important thing that stands out is that he is no newcomer to Stamford Bridge. Part of the backroom staff under Mourinho, holding the Head Scout portfolio, he knows the players well and has spent a good 3 seasons with the Blues. Therefore, settling down at the club doesn’t seem to pose as much difficulty as it does to first time managers at a new club. The fact that he knows club captain John Terry, as well as speaks fluent English, takes a little more load off his shoulders.
Second, Villas Boas comes to the club with both, strong credibility and the mind of a young, eager strategist, always an asset which influences the kind of decisions a manager makes. Delving a little deeper, Villas Boas will not really be expected to make radical changes (as he himself stated in his early interactions with the club), a mark of a mature head on young shoulders, shying away from a potential warchest at his disposal. His preferred 4-3-3 formation which worked like a charm with the front trio of the fast and powerful Hulk, Christian and the on-song marksman Radamel Falcao, will be easily applicable to a Chelsea side using the same formation in the past season. Selection headaches apart, Villas Boas has an enviable and varied strike force of a powerful hitman in Didier Drogba, a classy finisher in Fernando Torres and a versatile forward in Nicholas Anelka.
Third, the players which Villas Boas can bring in, offer excellent options at first insight. Looking back at his old club, Radamel Falcao looks to be target numero uno, and the star striker’s self admitted desire to join Chelsea and old manager is no longer a secret. Hulk, who has also consistently shown his indispensable presence in Porto’s attack, can be signed, offering devilish pace and mesmerising trickery rarely offered by the aging Florent Malouda or the injury prone Yuri Zhirkov.
A closer look at the past season tells us, that highly rated defender Fabio Coentrao might not be a distinct possibility after all, considering the fact that manager’s nationalities have a lot to do with their signings in the BPL. Wenger being a Frenchman has signed French speaking/ French players since time immemorial, Henry, Anelka, Viera, Nasri, Traore, Chamakh (Morrocan but speaks French), Sagna, Clichy, Vermaelan, Koscielny, Silvestre and many more names top the jaw dropping list. Benitez’s Spanish influence was evident in Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Albert Riera, Jose Pepe Reina all made it to the first team for periods or were mainstays . Similarly, Mourinho’s Portuguese influx was clear when he signed Tiago, Alex Da Costa, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira who were later given company by other names after Luiz Felipe Scolari added others like Deco, Belleti, Miniero and Jose Bosingwa. Villas Boas being a Portuguese, might just add the versatile defender to the list, but the fact the other man tempting Coentrao is former manager Mourinho, who is also Portuguese, will make things a little complicated.
Fourth, the flagging youth system might now look for a light at the end of the tunnel, with a young, former head scout taking reign at the Bridge. Things at Chelsea’s youth system have never been stable, future stars like Jack Cork, Ryan Bertrand, Gael Kakuta, Daniel Sturridge have all endured loan spells at different clubs, namely Burnley, Reading, Fulham and Bolton respectively. Other promising names like Miroslav Stoch, Franco Di Santo, Scott Sinclair, Fabio Borini have already made or are in the process of, confirming their exits. With players like Josh McEachran making their mark in the first team, Villas Boas is sure to offer other upcoming stars more frequent chances to make it to the first team, hugely and spontaneously aiding the rehabilitation of an increasingly aging Chelsea side.
Fifth but not the least, Chelsea can expect better man management from Villas Boas, hence a healthier team morale whose lack has been Chelsea’s downfall last season. Ancelloti’s inability to justify 50 million man Torres’s role in the starting line up caught him unawares, even though the classy signing of David Luiz was forgotten as easily as Grant’s role in leading Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League Final. If Villas Boas is to be believed, Chelsea will be built not around Torres, which Ancelloti tried but failed to create, but that he’ll try and create a “hardworking” group which works and gels with each other rather than confine to a particular individual’s needs.
Overall, Chelsea fans can look forward to a very interesting season. Villas Boas’s all out attack strategy will make Chelsea an excellent proposition no doubt, but a dew doubtful eyes will be cast at a manager who is just 33, 8 months older than club vice-captain and midfield legend Frank Lampard. Securing the respect and unwavering support of the whole squad and the fans will require work, negotiations with superstars who are as old as the manager might lead to a clash of egos but these are all possibilities that all managers face when taking up a managerial position. Whether Villas Boas is able to materialise his ambitious plans to transform Chelsea to a ruthless attacking force, is a very intriguing question, which only time can answer.