Another one bites the dust! André Villas-Boas was sacked from Chelsea Sunday three weeks ago following a 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, making him the seventh manager to lose his job in the Roman Abramovich era. But why did it go so wrong, and what does this mean for Chelsea’s future?

When André arrived in June, following Chelsea’s £13.3m payment to release him from his contract at Porto, there was optimism. He had had an excellent season at Porto, winning four trophies and achieving the accolade of being the youngest manager ever to win a European trophy: the UEFA Europa League. However, with only one full season of management behind him, it did seem slightly premature to appoint him as manager of one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League.

…weaknesses in Chelsea’s defence,

He started well enough, as Chelsea won most of their early games, but it all started to go wrong on 23 October against QPR as Chelsea lost 1-0 and captain John Terry was accused of racism. A week later, and they lost 5-3 at home to Arsenal. This highlighted weaknesses in Chelsea’s defence, and André’s preference for a high line when defending seemed ill suited to the decreasing pace of players like John Terry.

Since then, despite qualifying for the second round of the Champions League, Chelsea struggled to mount any consistent form. They threw away a 3-0 lead at home to Manchester United, and after their 2-0 defeat to Everton, Villas-Boas cancelled his squad’s day off. In an attempt to reassert his authority, he dropped Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole for the Champions League last 16 first leg against Napoli, which resulted in a 3-1 defeat. In this alienation of senior players coupled with poor results, André’s fate may have been sealed.

…senior players have a lot of influence,

But it does seem apparent that Chelsea’s senior players bear some responsibility for AVB’s sacking. These senior players have a lot of influence, but this seems also to mask the reality that Chelsea has, and hashad for some years, an aging squad in need of refreshment. André certainly did not have enough time to achieve this, but even so, he did not bring in as many players as he might have done. And he seemed clumsy when trying to assert authority.  Of course, with the success-hungry Abramovich owning the club there is increased pressure, but Chelsea do have the necessary funds to bring in the players required. André’s inability to impose his vision on the Chelsea team, however, does seem to have contributed to his lack of success.

Having employed some of the best managers in the game (Scolari, Ancelotti and Mourinho to name just a few), and seen them all leave when results and success have not been instantaneous or when the winning standard has not been maintained, Chelsea are running out of options. Unless time is given to the manager and the aging squad is re-energised, expect the sacking of Chelsea managers to be as regular occurrence as it has been in recent seasons.

Image courtesy of Chelsea Football Club


André VillasBoas

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A 3rd year Theology student at King's College London.

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