With the job having looked destined for the safe hands of Guus Hiddink, Chelsea seem now certain to appoint, 33 year old, Andreas Villas-Boas, a former opposition scout, with just two years of managerial experience. The appointment represents Roman Abramovich’s riskiest and most exciting decision since he took over the club in the summer of 2003.
The move is high risk, due to Boas’ young age and lack of experience. The risk is further heightened because this is a particularly significant managerial appointment for the club. It is expected Chelsea’s squad will be overhauled this summer, and it will be the job of the new manager to put the together the new side (even if he may have little to do with the signing and selling of the players himself). There is also the added pressure of the incoming financial fair play rules that mean the club needs to get things right pretty quickly.
Despite the risk, I do believe that this is an extremely exciting decision by the club, and one that the Chelsea hierarchy and Abramovich should be applauded for. Boas may only have two years managerial experience, but his success in those years has been spectacular. In addition he is a good fit for Chelsea: last season Porto consistently played a 4-3-3, so the Chelsea squad should not have too much difficulty adapting to his style; his teams play in the attacking style Abramovich craves, evidenced by the 145 goals scored by Porto last season; Porto like Chelsea do not give their manager full control over transfers so he should be used to working with what hes given; and finally as well as speaking fluent English, he can speak to Chelsea’s seven Portuguese speakers in their native tongue. Furthermore he is modern football man with a sound grasp of the theoretical side of the game, and his coaching background means that he should be good on the training ground, making him a much more hands on manager than Hiddink or Ancelotti for that matter.
Questions will of course be asked about his age and lack of playing career. How will, for example, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard react to being ordered around by a man just a few months older than themselves who has never played the game? I would answer this by saying it is a bad manager that relies on his track record or playing career to instil discipline in his squad. Maintaining authority is about possessing leadership skills, confidence, and being a good man manager. As a man who has risen so far in the game as quickly as he has I would imagine Boas has these things in abundance. Of course should things start badly his lack of experience will no doubt highlighted as a problem.
Despite all the positives there can be no escaping that this is a massive gamble for the club. The vastly experienced Guus Hiddink would have been a much safer choice; his vast experience almost guaranteeing Chelsea an orderly re-building of the side and a top two finish. However Abramovich has chosen exciting over a safe, and it might just turn out to be an inspired decision.
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