When Chelsea paid £13 million pounds in the summer to prise Andre Villas-Boas from Porto, many pundits and writers believed that this heralded a change in philosophy from the club and that they were aiming for long term stability. As we move into the last few months of the season though will Roman Abramovich be tempted to push the sack button once again?
As we enter February Chelsea have little chance of challenging for let alone winning the Premier League crown. Yet this is pretty much the same squad that managed to finish 2nd last season and still be in with a chance of winning the title right up until the last few games of the season. Also this season there has been the emergence of Daniel Sturridge as a regular starter, Oriol Romeu is growing into the holding midfielder role and Raul Meireles is a consistent performer at a high level for club and country.
So where are Chelsea going wrong? In previous years when you watched Chelsea under the likes of Mourinho, Hiddink and Ancelotti it was obvious what every players role on the pitch was and what sort of system they were playing. Under AVB though these things are not obvious anymore. In midfield the combinations of players are constantly changing and none of them seem to know how to play together. When Meireles, Lampard and Ramires play together none of them seem sure who is supposed to go forward and who is supposed to hold their position. AVB has tried to solve this by leaving out Lampard but this has only succeeded in making the player himself unhappy and upsetting the fans for dropping one of their favourites.
Another massive cause for concern has been Chelsea’s defence. Already this season they have conceded 26 goals. In the whole of last season they conceded just 33. John Terry has been seriously struggling for form, he does not seem to trust the erratic David Luiz and is more worried about having to cover for other peoples mistakes rather than concentrating on his own game. AVB seemed like he was correcting this with the signing of Gary Cahill who has played well with Terry at international level, however at this time Cahill has yet to get on the pitch.
Also being called into question is AVB’s attitude toward the media. He constantly goes on the defensive as soon as anyone questions whether or not himself or his team have made mistakes. His constant refusal to give Frank Lampard any credit or backing was also bizarre and just further highlighted the rumours that there may be problems in the dressing room between the manager and the senior players. His demand earlier in the season for the team to celebrate goals with him just gave further fuel to this idea that there is not much respect between him and a number of players who remain from Mourinho’s era.
One saving grace for AVB may come in the Champions league. Chelsea have been given an extremely tough draw though in the shape of Napoli who took 4 points off Manchester City in the group stages and the likes of Cavani and Lavezzi will be relishing the chance to test Chelsea’s defence. Even if Chelsea pass this test though you cannot see them winning the tournament with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on a completely different level to this current Chelsea side.
One more strange occurrence took place at Chelsea in the final week of the transfer window with the signing of Kevin De Bruyne from Genk in Belgium. Villas-Boas openly admitted that the signing had absolutely nothing to do with him and it was entirely the clubs decision to sign him. How can a club force a player onto the manager when it is clear that the manager does not want him, which is shown by him being loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti was sacked hours after the final game of last season as finishing second in the league and winning a league and cup double the season before was deemed not good enough. Looking at the worse case scenario if Villas-Boas fails to win the champions league or FA cup this season and also finishes outside the top 4 then surely with Abramovich’s track record Chelsea will be looking for yet another new manager in the summer.