Time for a footie fix folks. I touched on the subject along wither last week, but this week I am devoting my whole post to Chelsea FC and the so-called crisis that is happening there at Stamford Bridge.
This week saw a draw against Championship side Birmingham in the FA Cup and a 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the Champions League, not putting us out of the competition, but making it very hard to progress to the next round. With only one win in the last seven games, it is one of the worst starts to a manager’s career at the club in a very long time and the media have jumped on Andre Villas-Boas’ back and are still jumping.
I am going to offer my thoughts on the matter. I like AVB. I think he is from a good mould and has the potential to be a great manager. Let’s bear in mind that he is still young and has a lot to learn, but I like his attitude and he isn’t afraid to speak out against those who he thinks deserve a tongue lashing or criticism. What I am getting tired of is the continual hounding of managers by the British media, particularly in England that invariably ends up in them getting the sack. We have already seen how petty they can be dredging up a racism story against Stuart Pearce from 18 years ago just when he is to manage England for ONE friendly! Its pathetic, and then they wonder why England never win anything.
AVB is now experiencing this and it must be really pissing him off now that he cannot concentrate on the job he has to do at the club without being asked if he is getting the sack, or whether he has the backing of owner Roman Abramovich. This detracts from he project in hand. We keep hearing the words “transition”, and “rebuilding” all the time, but this is what is happening at Chelsea right now and even I’m of saying it. In my opinion, it is now time for Roman Abramovich to come out from behind his minions and publicly state for the record that AVB is there in charge of the club for 3 years no matter what happens and then we’ll see what happens. This continual speculation and deflection of the question is very frustrating for the players and the fans alike.
I seem to remember a certain Scottish manager being just a couple of games away from the sack according to the fans and media, but hey, guess what? 25 years later, he is still there! So it just shows that a little faith in a manager’s long-term plan can pay off. I wonder how many of those fans that called for Sir Alex Ferguson’s head back then are cheering his name now. The same chance has to be given to AVB. He has inherited an ageing team with a number of players who seem to believe that they ARE the club. I’m talking Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Essien here. They have been great servants to the club throughout their careers and I thank them for it, but they cannot be allowed to dictate to the manager. He is the man in charge and they must either respect his choices or move on.
The beginnings are there of a potentially great squad, but here is the problem. What hope does a manager have to incorporate youth talent coming through from the academy when the threat of the sack looms over him all the time. Any manager is afraid to play the younger players because he knows that if he does and they then lose, he won’t get past the season. So instead, he spends money to bring in the good players from around Europe and then the youths are ignored. It’s a perpetual cycle of doom and gloom. That cycle has to be broken and now is the best time to do it.
I say give AVB the chance to rebuild a squad completely and if that comes at the cost of the Champions League for a season or two, then so be it. In actual fact a season away from the top European competition might even be good for the club. Obviously not financially, but a lowered sense of expectation and pressure would help AVB do his job properly. Yes, he has made mistakes, but so has every top manager at one stage or another so he is no different from them. I’m in the “Keep The Manager” camp.