This article is a re-post and merge of my now defunct OurFootballBlog football writing blog from 2010 – 2011.
So far it’s been a close-season of managers on the move and one position in particular has been hard to miss since the season finished – Chelsea are on the lookout for another first team coach (note my use of phrase) and after much conjecture it seems we may finally have a front runner, Andre Villas-Boas of Porto.
The Final Curtain Call
Love him or hate him it’s difficult to deny that Ancelotti was pretty hard done to in his final few months and it’s worth noting that those in the ‘hate him’ camp comprise pretty much of Roman Abramovich and a close circle of ‘Yes Men’. This sadly isn’t an uncommon trend at Chelsea with 6 managers so far in the 8 years Abramovich has been in charge with number 7 just around the corner, and with the managerial Merry-Go-Round in full swing it’s time to bring on the Chelsea Circus once more.
The Man, The Manager – The Coach? The New Ringmasters Apprentice
Most wont have heard of him before and those that do have probably only become aquaintend with him over the past 6 months through his work at Porto, but as it’s looking ever more likely this evening that the new number 2 at Chelsea (see what I did there again) will be the soon to be ex-Porto Manager Andre Villas-Boas, it seems wise to cover his background.
At 33 he’s a young manager, but he does have history with Chelsea and a certain ‘special one’ having been named Opposition Scout under Jose Mourinho. He was tasked with producing detailed reports on opposition teams right down to individual players including those featuring on the bench, it seems that attention to detail has always figured in his work and it’s this detail Abramovich may well be looking to harness to avoid some of the slip-ups that cost Chelsea again this year.
His managerial history is little, but successful. As manager of Academica in 2009 he took them from the bottom of the Portugeaus League to 11th place and 10 points clear of relegation along with a successful cup run to semi-final defeat against Porto. Whilst at Academica he played attractive but effective football, playing like the Spanish champions just wasn’t an option because the players weren’t up to it, but he did utilise his resources in such a way to create an efficient means of attractive football. Fast forward to today, after a year at Porto he’s won done the treble – namely winning the Portugeause league, the domestic Cup and the Europa League and with the same expansive style of play, this time more elaborate because of the improved standard of player – not quite Jose in disguise after-all.
Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea… does this fit or not? I can’t decide. Villas-Boas knows what he’s letting himself in for, he’s worked at the club before, so he must understand the pressures and the external influence on team policy and transfers that exist there – but Ancelloti knew this too and it didn’t help him. I can’t see him creating a rip-roaring change throughout the philosophy of the club so he’ll have to live with it regardless. At 15 million euros (oh yes that much) this isn’t going to be a cheap deal for Chelsea, so perhaps it does signal a change of emphasis for them, are we going to see Villas-Boas last 5 seasons minimum and be allowed to build a team? I think he’d like that.
One thing sticks out further than a sore thumb for me here – Chelsea’s previous form in manager selection, however ‘unsuccessful’ has been to pursue like a wild dog the manager who can bring European success and with the greatest respect to Villas-Boas he has very little ‘managerial’ experience, this isn’t the Hiddink selection Roman would like, it’s the polar opposite and whilst Villas-Boas is undoubtably capable it’s a very interesting shift in policy which may backfire for all concerned.
Too Many Rides & Sweets – Now I Just Feel Sick
I’ll come out and say it, I don’t think this is going to work out very well at all. I’d love to think that Chelsea will pay this 15 million euro price on his head and give him a 10-15 year contract, to come out and announce that they’ve signed the best young manager in the business and they intend to let him shape the club from the ground up. If this happens I’ll accept I’m probably lying in a hospital bed somewhere instead. The raw truth of the matter is it’ll be a fast start, that’ll peatier out and then come March the Circus will be back in town at Chelsea, because Roman will have thrust a new £40 million midfielder on him in January 2012 and semi-finals of the Champions League just isn’t good enough alongside another tight 3 way fight for the Premier League. Then finally, with as much fanfare and grace as the other managers before him were afforded, talk of the new manager coming in (most likely talk of Hiddink again!) will start before he’s even got his coat and Chelsea will be back at square one, I just hope the fans don’t get sick of the same old show.