Andre Villas-Boas has become Chelsea’s seventh manager in eight years, after the club triggered the £13.2million release clause in his contract to Porto. It only took Villas-Boas one season to achieve fantastic success at the Portuguese club, which was obviously enough to convince Chelsea that he is Carlo Ancelotti’s successor. However, the 33-year-old now has the enormous task of bringing success back to Stamford Bridge and there may be a few obstacles en route.
First, one challenge that may arise could be with the owner Roman Abramovich. The owner has shown faith in Villas-Boas by paying the extraordinary release fee, but, looking at Chelsea’s history of owner-manager relationships, one could be forgiven in thinking that Villas-Boas won’t last his proposed three-year tenure. Bookies have already started to take bets on how long the young manager will remain at the helm.
Roman Abramovich has often become too involved in the general running of Chelsea. Hence, Chelsea managers have been replaced like batteries in a remote. The billionaire owner even managed to drive out Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s most successful manager in history. Decisions made by Abramovich (e.g. £30million signing of Andriy Shevchenko) caused a feud with the ‘Special One’, which was too big to quell.
Moreover, Abramovich craves success, especially romanticising over Champions League glory. Without it, as seen with the latest casualty Carlo Ancelotti, the manager is unceremoniously dumped. Therefore, there is already a lot of pressure on the young shoulders of Villas-Boas. Overall, the question is, will Andre Villas-Boas, the ‘novice’ manager, become a puppet on a string?
In addition, another challenge may come from the squad, especially the senior players. The Chelsea dressing room is known to be too small for the players’ big egos, and ‘player power’ has been put into practice before at the club.
Luiz Felipe Scolari blamed the dressing room politics for his demise as Chelsea manager. Scolari argued with striker Didier Drogba and even saw players quarrel with each other (Deco and Michael Ballack). In fact, these experiences were so depressing for ‘Big Phil’ that the World Cup-winning manager confessed that he couldn’t think about football for two months after his sacking.
Now, many ex-footballers have expressed their concern over the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas. Ian Wright believes that the manager’s success in Portugal won’t warrant respect from the Chelsea senior players. Plus, many of them will remember Villas-Boas as a scout under Mourinho. Has he got the badges to earn respect from the players?
Furthermore, Graeme Souness claims that the appointment is a “huge gamble” and adds that the manager’s age might be a sticking point with some of Chelsea’s veterans. In addition, former Chelsea player, Micky Hazard warns that Chelsea players are “superstars and sometimes very difficult to handle.” Andre Villas-Boas must break this ‘player power’.
However, in his first TV interview as Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas said (in fluent English), “Don’t expect something from one man.” He believes that it is important to create a group dynamic involving the club, the squad and the fans. Therefore, the point stressed is that there is no one leader; it is very much a team effort.
Chelsea fans should be excited about the appointment of Villas-Boas. The sceptics argue that he’s too young or has come from an ‘easy’ league. Nevertheless, the ‘novice’ manager orchestrated an unbeaten season for Porto in the Primeira Liga breaking several records along the way (some formerly belonging to the ‘Special One’). Moreover, he saw European success in the Europa League with the club. Overall, I think this will help reassure Chelsea fans that the team is in good hands.
Furthermore, even though he has no football playing experience, this is a man who gained the attention and guidance from the late great Sir Bobby Robson at the (even more tender) age of 16. Moreover, at 17 years old, he earned his stripes with a UEFA C coaching licence. If Sir Bobby had respect for him, so should everyone involved with Chelsea.
Another reason that Chelsea should be excited with the appointment is that Villas-Boas could go back to raid Porto for the exceptional talent of Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho or the comically named Hulk. Additionally, Chelsea are reported to be closing in on Santos wonderkid Neymar. However, this seems to be Roman Abramovich’s player of choice as transfer speculation started before Villas-Boas was even appointed.
If Andre Villas-Boas is allowed freedom in the transfer market, it will allow him to make the necessary changes to rejuvenate the squad. As a result, it could make Chelsea, once again, a force to be reckoned with in Europe.
Therefore, I am curious to see how the 2011-12 season pans out for Chelsea. Will it be a calamity, or is there going to be a congested victory bus in West London at the end of next season?
Andre Villas-Boas: The next ‘Special One’ or the next one gone?