2 Important Questions About Chelsea’s Rollercoaster Ride Of A Season

So how was your holiday season? I’m betting it has been better than Andre Villas-Boas’s December despite Chelsea’s late win against Wolves on Monday.

Since the holidays have begun, a constant stream of events conspired to turn Chelsea from a team moving along in transition/future 3rd place finisher to a team that has (if you believe the rumors) a divided locker room, constant middling draws, uninspired play, an upset loss to Aston Villa, rampant booing, a manager who’s either staying put or getting fired soon and no realistic guarantee that the club will even place 4th in the table at the end of the year. The “transition while winning” plan is gone and since these things aren’t supposed to happen to big, gigantic clubs things are going to change and it’s probably going to get very real and scary. So what should happen now that Chelsea is under siege? It comes down to two very large factors, and how the club goes about handling these factors.

Factor #1: What are club owner Roman Abramovich’s real feelings towards Andre Villas-Boas?

No matter how much money is thrown around the club, you would have to think that if Roman decided to buyout AVB’s contract from Porto to get him to Chelsea he is pretty enamored with him. The subsequent firing of Carlo Ancelotti after winning the double and finishing second and hiring of a guy who’s 34 and has a Europa League championship is pretty much going all in with your choice. Villas-Boas brings with him an ideology of fast, pressing offense and a more attractive style of football that almost requires a faster, younger player. If this is the style that Roman wanted then in time there is a very good chance that AVB-helmed Chelsea teams in 2012, 13 and onward will win titles and be consistent.

Right now though Villas-Boas inherited a team that has had no major overhauls since the Jose Mourhino era and can’t fully execute the style of play that AVB was brought in for. It’s damned if you/damned if you don’t if Abramovich throws his vote of confidence to Villas Boas because with how the club is playing and the backstage drama they’ve conceded this season and probably will have a rocky start next season as well, maybe playing in the Europa League. Regardless, the worst move Abramovich could make is to sack AVB after only a few months. Gus Hiddink is not walking through the door, and realistically he shouldn’t because anyone short of Mourhino suddenly wanting another go-around isn’t a better choice than what Roman currently has in Villas-Boas. That being said, if Abramovich chooses Villas-Boas, then they have to deal with the other big factor:

Factor #2: Who’s in starting lineup for the 2012/2013 season?

It’s not about right now with the current squad. Right now, no matter who leaves and gets brought in, the team is going to most likely chug along and be very uneven. By picking Villas-Boas as the long term choice, you’re not only choosing his offense but you are also confirming that it’s Villas-Boas squad. This is where it gets interesting as if you believe the papers there is everything short of civil unrest in the locker room at the moment. In short, beloved players like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Nicholas Anelka who’ve won multiple titles are either getting shipped out, rumored to leave or embroiled in their own now legal issues. In order to overhaul the squad and bring the team into a new era Villas-Boas is going to have to sell off many of the fans favorite players, some of whom still have something left to contribute. Would anyone have expected to read rumors about Frank Lampard being sold in January a year ago?

To go all in with AVB should mean that you’re also giving him the right to choose who he wants for the team. Because of this it shouldn’t be shocking to see a Chelsea team in February that looks very different. This means signing players like Gary Cahill to eventually replace John Terry regardless of the fallout from his February trial, getting a creative midfielder to create opportunity and building around Daniel Sturridge rather than Fernando Torres up front.

As much as fans should appreciate the contributions of players like Lampard, Drogba, etc., you can’t ignore the fact that eventually they would leave. Villas-Boas’s hiring sped this up of course, but wasn’t that the point of hiring him? The only thing that’s really happening with Chelsea now is that the transition went from being smooth to very rocky in one month’s time. If there is a long term vision at Stamford Bridge then now is the time to speed it up and that is what Abramovich and the board should take into account while they decide the immediate and long term future of the club.

12 thoughts on “2 Important Questions About Chelsea’s Rollercoaster Ride Of A Season”

  1. As a Chelsea fan, I completely agree with this post. I support AVB and believe he can bring great things to the club. I also appreciate the success of Lampard, Terry, Drogba, etc. over the years. However, there comes a time when club legends must be cut (Arsenal did it with Henry) and for Chelsea, that time is now with AVB’s future vision.

    The current Chelsea core have maxed out. They’re not good enough to win the Champion’s League or the Premier League. United, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham are all relatively younger squads. It’s time for Chelsea to rebuild; more Matas and Sturridges in the squad.

  2. Very good post.

    I agree that Abramovich hired AVB to do exactly what he’s doing: push out the remaining Mourinho players. And both men are very familiar with the personalities of these players (remember, AVB was at the club with these same players during the Mourinho years). There were probably many discussions before AVB signed about how the transition might go, and how it might get very ugly. Stripping out the core of the team and rebuilding with younger players – surely Roman and AVB anticipated a drop in form and results. That’s why I think he’s job is safe for the foreseeable future.

  3. Just watch David Luiz on the goal to equalize; or for that matter any goal that Chelsea has conceded. He’s is defending air.. I mean he doesn’t even look like he knows what is going on. The attack came from the area he was supposed to be defending and the low cross literally was passed through him out of position.

    If you want to rebuild then fine but here’s a couple of points:
    1. Don’t spend 20+ million on a centre back from a league(Portugal) that uses their centrebacks as more of a Libero driving the play up with the ball in the other end.
    2. Don’t spend 50+ million on an out of form injury prone center forward who has not played 30+ league games for his club in a season in 4+ years.
    3. Don’t spend another 20+ million on a striker from a team(Valencia) who uses a system to pump and sell strikers in order to maintain their league position.. after buying him at peak value.. don’t make him a winger.
    4. Don’t bring in these players forcing the market to undervalue your veterans as you phase them out of the team. Okay… so you want to get rid of Anelka, Drogpa, Terry, Lampard, Malouda, Mikel…you’ll be lucky to get 30 cents on the dollar for each of them now.
    5. Where does Essien fit in to this eventually Chelsea side.. He’s a premium center defensive midfielder.. Are they going to sell him on the cheap with everyone else too?

    There is value on this squad but is it going to be released for nothing and then rebuilt for 300+ million pounds again? Why even buyout a manager if that’s your approach? Give Roman a FIFA controller as a placebo and don’t even hire a manager.

  4. When you need to change an ageing team it always takes time if you plan on doing it gradually. That’s what Chelsea is attempting to do and AVB should be given the time to do so.

    Chlesea are still in the Champions League, FA Cup and have a very good shot at finishing in the top 4. Not reason to panic.

  5. Abramovich is the problem. His play-thing is Chelsea and he will continue to meddle and make rash decisions, its his hobby. As long as he is sticking his nose where it has no business, Chelsea will suffer. What consistency has this club had? Buying Torres and firing Ancelloti are to prime examples of poor decision making. Just watch, in a state of panic he will try to salvage the season in January by spending millions. At what point is this guy going to admit that he is screwing up the team? I dont care for Manchester City but those owners are doing it right. With that said I think it is so perfect that Tottenham is thrashing Chelsea this season on what is basically a shoestring budget in comparison.

    1. I was with you up until “Man City are doing it right.” City will probably get the title this year, but their team is bloated with overpaid mercenaries with big egos, who are eventually going to get restless with their lack of playing time and share of the spotlight. They’ve done well so far, but this is a house of cards, eventually, they are going to have big, big problems.

      1. I tottaly agree with you about the excessive spending and loose canon personalities in the squad. i should have clarified that i was only referring to the owners stepping back and letting people like the coach do their job.

  6. AVB is a dead man walking given past form. No question that Chelsea is in need of rebuilding but you have to say Ancelotti would have got more out of this lot than the new man. It was a stupid decision by Abramovich to sack him. Winning in Portugal is a bit like winning the Scottish premier league – it has no bearing on how well a coach will do in England. Chelsea may end up playing better football but they won’t win the league anytime soon, especially with Man City looking like they will dominate for the next few years.

  7. The last time Chelsea began the new year out of the top four was 2001. AVB’s stats say all that needs to be said. Avram Grant was a colossus compared to AVB. Yet Roman seems to have exhausted himself firing good managers like Ancelotti, and he seems prepared to stick with the worst manager of his reign as a result.

    As for the rumors of a divided dressing room, all you had to do was watch the two goal celebrations. When Ramires scored, the Portuguese players and Brazilians who played in Portugal and a Spaniard celebrated With AVB (while Terry tried to get them all back on the pitch). When Lamps scored, he celebrated with Cole and Torres in the farthest corner of the pitch.

    AVB may survive, but for no rationale reason if the desired outcome is a good finish. It may take a bit longer, but it won’t end well.

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