The concept of long term planning is unheard of at Chelsea Football Club. Since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, five managers have been and gone, four of which left involuntarily. Failure is not tolerated. In fact, success barely is either. One must cast the mind back to only the summer of 2011 and the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, a season after he had won a league and cup double, to see that. Which all makes the idea that Andre Villas-Boas has the full backing of the Russian oligarch an absurd one.
All Chelsea managers join the club with the promise of a new, long term era. Each of them wants to remain at the club for a long time, to build a legacy, to fulfill the owner’s ultimate dream – winning the Champions League. Ironically, the closest they have come to achieving that goal, in 2008, was under the stewardship of a manager who was stumbled across, with less than zero chance of long-term employment, Avram Grant.
So Villas-Boas is either clutching at straws or hugely optimistic to think that his boss will not dismiss him at the drop of a hat. The Portuguese was charged with revamping the squad he inherited which was clearly ageing and on the way down. He has failed to do so. The older players remain, with the exception of Nicolas Anelka and Alex, and the performances of the team has diminished further.
To be fair to Villas-Boas, we are only eight months into his reign so there is time for change, but two transfer windows have been and gone and fans of Chelsea, so used to success in the modern era, will grow impatient.
Villas-Boas will has come under scrutiny following some indifferent results for Chelsea
Warning signs are there for the Chelsea manager, even if he chooses to dismiss them. Firstly, Abramovich has regularly been visiting the Cobham training ground to cast his eye on proceedings. Nothing too sinister in an owner wanting to keep tabs on his club, but from a man like Abramovich who has been more conspicuous by his absence over his time at the club, these appearances could be telling.
Secondly, it has been revealed, and corroborated by Villas-Boas, that some of the Chelsea squad are still in contact with Jose Mourinho, the clubs most successful manager, now at Real Madrid. It is unusual for former bosses and employees to remain in touch in any line of work, but the maintenance of this relationship, one that was so strong during Mourinho’s time at the club, only serves to undermine Villas-Boas.
Further to this, the news of an alleged blazing row between players, coaching staff and the manager following Chelsea’s insipid 2-0 defeat at Everton suggests that reports of player unhappiness surrounding the new regime are accurate.
Although the 34 year old played down the row as “a meeting of technical staff and players, nothing dramatic”, he admits that the dressing room might not be fully behind him. “They don’t have to back my project, only the owner needs to back my project.”
For now, the owner is backing him. For every week that Villas-Boas stays as manager, his position will appear more secure. After all, if he wasn’t going to get sacked after the Everton performance, the Manchester United surrender or the draws at newly promoted clubs, why would he ever feel a lack job security?
Champions League qualification will be make or break. Finish fourth and Villas-Boas will get a chance to continue with what he started, further separate the wheat from chaff, and bring in some more of his own players. Fifth or worse? Another manager will bite the dust. Such is life at Stamford Bridge.