Where were you when the news of Scolari’s sacking broke this afternoon? I saw it on facebook, followed by a text message from a friend who works at ESPN. I can honestly say that the decision by Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board has stunned me, after only 7 months in charge at Stamford Bridge. Did I see it coming? Not all, I commented last month that Chelsea weren’t playing well in my opinion and had little chance of catching Manchester United and Liverpool in the race for the Premiership but to remove Scolari so soon caught most people I know by surprise, even the Chelsea fans I know were shocked over the events. I don’t think anyone expected Aston Villa to be surging past them as we entered February but thats the state of the top 4 in the Premeriship come Sunday evening. I know the fans were booing the Chelsea team, for about the third home game in row but lets be fair, Chelsea should be destroying teams like Hull City and Stoke City, no offensive Tigers and Potters fans, but for you both to have almost stolen wins at Stamford Bridge is unthinkable in modern Premiership history.
Only gaining 3 wins in the last nine Premiership matches is surprising, but to only score 9 goals in that period too tells you a lot about what Chelsea’s problem is. This is an old team, with very little quality in depth if any of the first 11 get injured. Of course the first team is, on paper, one to rival most sides in Europe but I shudder to think what the current Barcelona side would do to them on present form. A team with no real wingers, only two top quality strikers one of whom clearly doesn’t want to be there, 8 central midfielders and no young players banging on the door of the first team squad. Scolari seems to have to have had his hands tied with no new players coming into the side since Deco’s arrival in the summer until Ricardo Queresma joined on transfer deadline day. Quite what he makes of things right now, heaven only knows.
The loss of Michael Essien became a major burden, his effervescent performances have been the driving force for Chelsea over the last 3 seasons and the midfield failed to sizzle without his power and strength to take games by the scruff of the neck. To chase games, Scolari consistently turned to Belletti, a wing back who occasionally filled in at Defensive Midfield. Chelsea have the most expensive youth and scouting network in the world but it hasn’t delivered any players of any note coming in, unlike Manchester United and Liverpool. John Obi Mikel has shown he is no Essien, or even a half fit Claude Makelele. Teams had worked out how to stop Chelsea by pushing on to Bosingwa and Ashley Cole and packing the midfield, narrowing the playing field even more than normal. Once Manchester United had gone to Stamford Bridge and stopped Bosingwa and Cole pushing forward, the rest of the Premiership realised that if you could do that, Chelsea had no Plan B under Scolari.