Chelsea’s defeat by Liverpool has left them 12 points off the pace after just 12 matches, and this is their worst start to a Premier League season since 1995-6. Many are actually rather surprised that Abramovich hasn’t had enough of Andre Villas-Boas already. The problem with Chelsea this season has been that they simply haven’t learnt their lessons.
It’s almost as if Villas-Boas has decided to ignore every problem that has been glaringly obvious for the last few weeks. By not changing his tactics, Villas-Boas and Chelsea have certainly suffered. The defending has been dreadful, and this has inevitably caused confidence to sap across the pitch, because everything starts at the back, and by not sorting their problems out, the defense may also have cost Chelsea the title this season. For the first time in Abramovich’s time, his team have posted back-to-back league defeats and Manchester City really do see like a million miles away in the heavily competitive and strong Premier League. Is it time for Abramovich to continue his consistent form of impatience and call time on Villas-Boas’ very short tenure?
At any other club in the Premier League, if not the world, it would be outrageous to even suggest that Villas-Boas, regarded as one of Europe’s finest young coaches after winning the Portuguese title and Europa League at Porto last season, is under serious threat so early into his Chelsea career. But at Chelsea, it is not outrageous. To sack Villa-Boas, though, would be ludicrous and Abramovich should stick with him. Every new manager needs time to settle into their new job, especially this one because he is so young. It also helps that Villas-Boas himself believes, contrary to some fairly recent evidence, that he is a Chelsea manager in it for the long haul. However, after the performance against Liverpool on Sunday, it may need to be a very lengthy journey if Villas-Boas is going to lead Chelsea to any success. He has to put Chelsea back on track immediately and change his game plan because Abramovich is not going to hang around with him.
The ability of Liverpool, as well as QPR and Arsenal, to trouble Chelsea in recent weeks underlined one of the club’s primary problems. Chelsea’s key players that have brought them so much success in recent years are finally starting to stumble. John Terry and Ashley Cole have been extremely inconsistent this season, and Cech’s rare mistakes are now appearing with increasing regularity. Lampard, although still a strong influence, was kept very quiet yesterday and Drogba is not even close to the player he was last season. Villas-Boas has to transfer his faith into different players and make Chelsea his own team. Fernando Torres is looking lost at Chelsea, while David Luiz is impetuous in defense, getting caught out of position all the time and is incapable of defending in a flat back four. Most are bemused by the absence of Alex who surely should be the player alongside John Terry every time. However, Terry shouldn’t escape any scrutiny. He is no longer the same player, whether that is because of age or off-field distractions, and when you put this together with his lack of understanding with Luiz, the result is catastrophic.
Villas-Boas has tried to impose a more attacking style, but by doing this, the basics have been neglected. He has a lot of work to do, and the pressure is really building on him. However, if he gets the basic problems right – sorting out the defense and building a more diverse team, then Chelsea could return to the heavyweights of Europe. But at the moment, the current team is not going to get Roman Abramovich his Champions League title or his fourth Premier League crown. Villas-Boas wasn’t appointed as an experiment. He is an extremely young and therefore, inexperienced manager, but possesses huge potential. Given the time, he can be successful at Chelsea, but the process of improving and becoming comfortable with the team, has to speed up.