Yesterday, numerous fans had their say on the recent dismissal and departure of former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. Today, we look at more reactions on the Portuguese manager’s tenure and what the future holds.
Robert Rea, @robertrea
I’m not going to shed any tears for Andre Villas-Boas. It had become abundantly clear that his management wasn’t working. He had alienated one set of players without being able to sideline them, and didn’t seem to have any idea on how to change the team’s style or line-up effectively. All the tactical developments he said he would bring in had either failed and been abandoned (the “high block”) or hadn’t been implemented at all (the “press” and the “vertical movement”).
But sacking him solves nothing. He may not have been the solution, but neither was he the problem at the heart of Chelsea. It’s a problem that has been clear for more than a season now – in fact some would say even longer than that. And the problem is basically that we are still trying to play as if this is 2006, and that Lampard, Drogba and Terry (the spine of the side) are still at the peak of their form.
When that spine actually was at its peak, we were unplayable much of the time. Lampard’s control over the midfield and his orchestration of the team, Drogba’s power and mastery of opposition defences and Terry’s marshalling of the back four – the happy confluence of those three factors were central to the dominance we enjoyed under Mourinho, Hiddink and (less so) in Ancellotti’s first year. Other players were important – Cech naturally, Robben, Makalele, and then Ballack – but the team revolved around the big three.
All three are in their 30s now and not the force they were. The number of good games Lampard has had since returning from injury last year can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Drogba has flashes where he shows what he once was, but malaria, age and injury have left him a lesser player. Terry, too, has been affected by injury, but also by the various off-the-pitch sagas – still a class player, but slower and less commanding than he used to be.
And yet we still try to play our football through these three – perversely, even when they’re not on the pitch. Why has Torres failed to work? Because we play balls to him as if he’s Drogba. Why aren’t we scoring as freely as we did before? Because we still expect a midfielder to pop up in the area and back up the strikers there. Why is our midfield play so ponderous? Because we are continually looking for someone in the middle to direct the play. And so on and so on.
Is the solution to get rid of the old guard? Up until now, I’d have said no. Ferguson has shown how to move “old guard” players to the sidelines while still using their talents when needed – just look at the roles now carried out by Scholes, Giggs, Ferdinand and even Gary Neville before he retired.
Now though? I’m not so sure. Seeing how they behaved when AVB tried to reduce their role, I’m not sure that we can accommodate the old guard if they’re going to be so intransigent. (I’d exempt Terry from that criticism, as he seems to accept he can’t play every game).
But even if we don’t get rid of them, something has to be done. We cannot keep on playing our brand of football as it becomes progressively slower, more tedious and less effective game by game. We need to embrace a new style of play and new players. It would be nice to see us play to Torres’ strengths – though I suspect we may have damaged his confidence so much, the collapse in his goal-scoring form may be irreparable.
Until we are prepared to do this, and we stop allowing such a move to draw us into a civil war, we can appoint – and sack – as many managers as we like. It’s not going to make any difference.
I feel he was let down by senior players who value their egos to the detriment of the club. It’s a shame that he wasn’t given time to put his own philosophy to the test, and I feel in the years to come, CFC will regret sacking him. If players start performing now,it’ll show how much self-interest rules at Chelsea and I think most Chelsea fans will wish him well for the future.
I’m definitely in the minority, but feel given time AVB could have been great for the future of the club. Signing a manager so young was indicative that Roman was looking towards the bigger picture. Unfortunately AVB struggled to get the older players on side and was never going to succeed here. I wish him the best of luck. And for us? I wish us a Benitez free future.
There is something very amiss at board level at Chelsea Football Club. There are far too many poor decisions made over the hiring and firing of the club’s coaching staff. AVB should have never been given total control, he should have been guided or assisted by a director of football or a similar position. Had Andre not been happy with that arrangement then he shouldn’t have been employed.
Secondly there are far too many key players in the autumn of their careers. These players must either be shown pastures new or used in a limited capacity. And as unpalatable as it sounds that includes the likes of Cole, Lampard and Drogba. All Chelsea legends, however, even the glorious must at some point move from present into history.