Life After AVB – Where Next For Chelsea?
Andre Villas-Boas was sacked by Roman Abramovich on Sunday, we look at what should happen next at Stamford Bridge as well as some potential replacements for AVB
It would have come as no shock to Chelsea supporters as they heard that Andre Villas-Boas had become the latest victim of Roman Abramovich’s notorious high standards. Chelsea have undoubtedly underperformed this season under the former Porto manager with only three wins in their previous twelve games. Perhaps the lackluster manner of their 1-0 defeat to West Brom on Saturday forced the Russian in to pulling the trigger on the Villas-Boas regime after only nine months.
Trigger-happy is an apt description of Abramovich who, since Jose Mourinho’s departure in 2007, has overseen the demise of five managers. Carlo Ancelotti the only man to last longer than a season.
The latest sacking of Villas-Boas then raises one question, where next for Chelsea? A club where no manager, however revered, is allowed the time to implement his own style. A club where player power apparently runs wild, where Terry, Lampard, Drogba and co pull the strings not the coach. A club in subsequent demise. Is it surely not time for the new manager to dismantle the old boys club if Chelsea are to be successful again?
There appears to be no ready made candidate to step in to the Chelsea hot seat. Former Liverpool and Valencia manager Rafa Benitez has been mentioned, as has Pep Guardiola who seems to be linked with every top job in England as he considers his future at Barcelona. Even Jose Mourinho has been touted as a possible replacement to his own former scout. But who would want the poisoned chalice at Stamford Bridge?
Mourinho has already tasted Abramovich’s bitter medicine, and Guardiola must surely be wary of working with the impatient owner. The most likely replacement then, seems to be Benitez, who guided Liverpool to Champions’ league glory in Rome in 2005. However, his record in the premiership is not so impressive. In his final season at Liverpool they finished seventh, and many blame his inability to deal with the pressures of the title run in as the reason Liverpool threw away a ten point gap over eventual winners Manchester United in 2008. Could he really create a title contending side? The answer to this problem remains unclear.
In the short at least the answer is Roberto Di Matteo. The former Chelsea midfielder, who played at Stamford Bridge from 1996-2002 and returned this season as assistant manager, has been put in charge of team affairs until the end of the season. The Italian will undoubtedly use the old guard to try and limp over the finish line in fourth and Champions League qualification. Not easy tasks as Arsenal seem to have the bit between their teeth at moment with wins against Spurs and Liverpool over the last fortnight.
The fact is whatever happens from now until May Chelsea are stuck between, a new attacking style desired by the owner, and conversely his inability to cull the old guard who sulk and throw the weight of their histories around if they are not starting every week.
But football does not care for these histories; now is the time of the supposed young talent that Chelsea has hidden to emerge. The next manager whoever he is has to be given license to field the likes of Gael Kakuta, Josh Mceachran, and Romelu Lukaku in place of the old boys network who are simply unable to reproduce the goods of yesteryear.
All is not so gloomy in the long term if Abramovich gives the next manager the time to rebuild and re-fashion the identity of the team. The club has a potential new crop, a new legacy that could re-galvanize Chelsea. In addition to the youngsters they have Torres, Mata, Luiz, Cahill, Ramires, Sturridge who are all the right side of thirty. Whilst Torres and Luiz have had their critics, their quality cannot be doubted and are more likely to flourish with the exodus of the old stagers.
If the new manager is allowed by the powers that be to develop this new era. And if he is given the funds to go out and add a world-class ball player in the middle of the park then Chelsea have the potential of challenging the two Manchester clubs for Premier league dominance.
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