THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

9 March ~ Since Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003, the club has had nine managers (including caretakers) in nine seasons. And now, after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas, it’s back to square one. In terms of results, Villas-Boas had the worst record of any manager in the Abramovich era. He undoubtedly goes down as the Russian's worst managerial appointment to date, and many would say, not necessarily just in hindsight, it was a mistake to hire him in the first place. As a Chelsea supporter I can’t dispute any of these claims, but that doesn’t mean Chelsea were right to sack him.

Of the many reasons for this, somewhere near the top is money. Chelsea reportedly spent £28 million sacking Carlo Ancelotti – an even bigger mistake – and prizing Villas-Boas from Porto in the summer. It was a huge price for such an inexperienced manager, but it may have been legitimised if the club didn’t get rid of him, along with another large pay-off, barely seven months on. It is Abramovich’s money, but it would be naive to suggest this is where the impact ends.

FIFA’s financial fair play regulations are looming and Chelsea are already far from equitable, recording losses of £70 million last year. The Blues have a small 42,000-seater stadium, some of the highest paid players in the Premier League, have spent more money than any other club in England since January last year and, in spite of Villas-Boas’s ousting, still face the distinct possibility of not being in next season’s Champions League. This club can’t afford to spend silly money on employing and sacking managers, inexperienced or otherwise.

If that’s not incentive enough to have a little faith, why not look to the most successful English club of recent times, Manchester United. In his 25 years at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson has won 12 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues. If the Ferguson of 1986 had come to the present day Chelsea he wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to win his first piece of silverware, the 1990 FA Cup, in his third season in charge. The chances are, he would have been ousted at some point between 2004 and 2007, when United only managed a solitary League Cup victory. Not every manager is a Ferguson in disguise but Abramovich will never find the right person for the job without more patience.

An optimistic fan could have been forgiven for believing that Villas-Boas would be given a good chance at Chelsea. Up until very recently he seemed assured that he would hold his position for at least two seasons, if not three. As he made said repeatedly, he was working on a long-term(ish) "project". Clearly the Chelsea-revolution has been put off for the sake short-term success.

Good luck to Di Matteo. If he does well over the next two months, maybe he’ll be given a chance to shine next season. If not, someone else will be appointed. Either way, what happens when things inevitably start to turn on the new manager? You’d like to think Chelsea would have learned from their mistakes, but far more likely they’ll sack him and it’ll be back to square one again. William Turvill

Comments (6)
Comment by Paul Rowland 2012-03-09 13:35:21

It's difficult to see how anybody can make a success of managing Chelsea all the time John Terry is still there.

For that reason, I am rather hoping that John Terry NEVER leaves Chelsea.

;-)

Comment by Coral 2012-03-09 14:32:03

He is 20/1 to be the next manager. Now there's a paradox for you

Comment by kreig303 2012-03-09 14:40:36

I have thought for some time that Abramovich might "pack it in" — now validated by a recent article espousing the same opinion in The Guardian, no less. I suspect this is the reason for the much more conciliatory tone of the recent statement by the CPO about understanding the need to "settle" quickly towards a move.

Geographically I still say Earls Court makes most sense but it is without doubt that sans new digs Chelsea may find itself back to square one i.e. its 2003 predicament prior to Abramovich's "rescue"...

Comment by ingoldale 2012-03-09 16:52:44

It was a mistake to sack him on footballing grounds. You don't win a League-Cup-UEFA Cup treble being an average manager. The new manager of Chelsea will face the same problems as AVB - an ageing squad, too much player power and a non-firing Torres.

Somebody has to get rid of the deadwood - Drogba, too injury prone now; Terry, Cole, Lampard, getting too old - and AVB had started with Anelka. He was also bringing through the core of a new younger squad - Mata, Rameires, McEachran (after his loan), David Luiz and such a line-up takes time to gel. Look at City - they've had wealth for 3 or 4 seasons but it has only really come together properly for them during the last twelve months.

It was visible what AVB was trying to do, coupled with his style of using full backs and midfielders to over-lap thus creating an extra option all the time (Stoke away being an example) but if you don't give people time they will not succeed. You have to accept that Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, along with United, are no longer guaranteed Champions League football anymore because the likes of Tottenham and City have invested and brought themselves up to a similar level so inherently Chelsea et al are at risk of losing more games!

Comment by Karlheinz Riedle 2012-03-12 22:45:28

I'm actually so glad Chelsea have imploded this season, as they are a thoroughly unlikable club with a significant section of boorish, arrogant supporters who have forgotten where the club was prior to Abramovich and think history began in 2000.

Hopefully Chelsea will do a Portsmouth, go bust and get relegated, go bust again and then get (probably) relegated again or (preferably) liquidated and have to start again.

Wishful thinking, eh?

Comment by tempestinaflathat 2012-03-14 11:46:43

Ingoldale:

"It was a mistake to sack him on footballing grounds. You don't win a League-Cup-UEFA Cup treble being an average manager."

A young manager who won, say, Serie A and the European Cup in his first full season as manager might well be someone to take a punt on, in spite of his inexperience. But winning domestic honours with by far the best club in one of Europe's least competitive league, and following that up with a trophy few significant sides could care about really shouldn't have been enough to overlook the fact that he had spent so little time in management.

Hopefully, he'll either go back to Portugal or to another league of a similar standard, and build his career from there. He's clearly got huge potential - but to expect potential to translate into success so soon, and at a club with Chelsea's demands, was ludicrous.

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