LONDON: Andre Villas-Boas has consistently got his team selections wrong, his tactics wrong, his man-management wrong and, ultimately, his results all wrong; Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich was that one last defeat too far writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
He has now been replaced after just eight months with assistant Roberto Di Matteo stepping in as caretaker ahead of Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at second division Birmingham City. Chelsea sacked another Italian, Carlo Ancelotti, only last summer.
Last year, when he was steering Porto to victory in the Europa League, AVB appeared a manager mature beyond his then 33 years and a good choice for Stamford Bridge.
The trouble is, perhaps, Stamford Bridge was not quite ready for him. When he arrived in succession to Carlo Ancelotti his mission was to rebuild the squad and establish a new sense of stability. This was predicated, however, on the expectation that Chelsea would keep on winning enough matches to maintain Champions League status.
But not only have they lost seven games including three in the last seven in all competitions, they have also been playing poorly. The trouble is, it’s been the golden oldies whom AVB had to replace – Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba and John Terry – who have kept Chelsea in touch with the top four.
Full credit to Villas-Boas, at least, for honesty by comparison with a majority of crumbling managers who put on a defiant face to the media.
After Saturday’s latest defeat, away to Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion, he said: “Will this result increase pressure on me? You have to agree with it. We are in the same position, fifth, but we are now three points behind Arsenal. It is a big, big disappointment. Every defeat Chelsea suffers piles more pressure on any manager.”
The problem was, it also piled more pressure on owner Roman Abramovich who is not known for having patience with performing managers let alone under-performing managers – even when it cost £13m to buy out his Portuguese contract.
Rafa Benitez, out of football since being sacked as world club champion by Internazionale 15 months ago, had been linked with the Chelsea job but only as caretaker. He was interested but only if he could continue with a long-term contract.
Chelsea said in a statement on their official website: “Andre Villas-Boas has parted company with Chelsea Football Club today. The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early.
“Unfortunately 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. The club is still competing in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts.”
Lesson for endangered managers: avoid West Brom. Last month they saw off Mick McCarthy at Wolves. Now it’s been AVB. Who’s next for the Albion axe?
= = = = = = = = = =