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Abramovich must stand firm behind Villas-Boas

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Phil McNulty | 07:01 UK time, Monday, 21 November 2011

Roman Abramovich's legendary impatience ensures Stamford Bridge's clock always ticks faster in times of trouble - and it is racing already for Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas after only 12 Premier League games.

Villas-Boas knew Chelsea owner Abramovich's special demands when he took the call to succeed Carlo Ancelotti, sacked at the foot of a flight of stairs at Everton only a year after winning the league and FA Cup Double.

The 34-year-old Portuguese was acquainted with them again on Sunday after a 2-1 loss to Liverpool, following on from a 5-3 reverse to Arsenal, meant Chelsea had suffered successive home defeats for the first time since Abramovich took control in 2003.

Villas-Boas stretched optimism to breaking point - and arguably played a little fast and loose with Abramovich's past - when he suggested it was unlikely the Russian would pay £13.3m to prise him from Porto only to hand him a fortune in short order by way of a pay-off.

Ancelotti bit the dust soon after writing a new chapter in Chelsea's history, while Luiz Felipe Scolari went west in 2009 after only seven months at Stamford Bridge - despite leading his side to the top of the table after 12 league games.

Surely, though, it is ludicrous to suggest 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 in his tenure.

And yet he faced considered questions about his future following Liverpool's victory, based on recent indifferent form and the sudden appearance of a familiar spectre at the Stamford Bridge feast, Guus Hiddink.

Abramovich has genuine affection for Hiddink from his short spell in charge at Chelsea in 2009, when the Dutchman won the FA Cup and was only an injury-time equaliser away from beating Barcelona to reach the Champions League final.

Hiddink may have failed to take Russia to the 2010 World Cup and Turkey to Euro 2012, but his recent availability comes with unfortunate timing for Villas-Boas.

The former Porto boss, however, was impressively defiant as he faced his inquisitors on Sunday. He is convinced Abramovich has bought into his long-term vision and is confident, or at least as confident as any Chelsea manager can be, that he has the oligarch's full support.

Villas-Boas looks on as his Chelsea side slip to defeat against Liverpool. Photo: AFP

Villas-Boas looks on as his Chelsea side slip to defeat against Liverpool

Even more impressively, Villas-Boas spoke without the aid of a safety net. He refused to talk of transitional periods or make pleas for time. He accepted the responsibility and pressure that comes with working for Abramovich and was comfortable with it.

Villas-Boas believes, contrary to some fairly recent evidence, that he is a Chelsea manager in it for the long haul - and the performance against Liverpool suggests it may need to be a lengthy journey.

Abramovich placed his faith and used his vast wealth to secure Villas-Boas. And as Chelsea moved to dispel talk of an increasingly frosty relationship between owner and manager, it must now be time for Stamford Bridge's ruler to hold his nerve.

Chelsea's reputation took heavy blows following Ancelotti's ruthless dismissal and it would invite scorn if they prematurely dispensed with the manager Abramovich charged with shaping their future when he arrived in June.

Abramovich was acknowledging Chelsea had flaws by sacking Ancelotti and appointing Villas-Boas. And club officials were remaining calm amid what was perceived to be a gathering storm around their young manager.

Chelsea's squad has been in need of renewal in recent seasons. Villas-Boas may need years rather than months to complete it and his task must be viewed in that context.

Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin was an observer at Chelsea on Sunday and told BBC Sport: "It's pretty obvious what he is trying to do. Some people might call it naive but it is certainly positive. Chelsea do take chances, they will lose goals and they leave defenders isolated - but he does have a positive approach.

"Obviously there is talk about the squad needing a revamp but most clubs revamp their squad and they do it intelligently over a period of time. If you look at Chelsea's team in the first half against Liverpool, it looked like quite a few of the players might need to be involved in a revamp, but in the second half they were decent.

"Abramovich wants more than that, though. He wants a team to really compete for the Champions League and, at the moment, I am not convinced this is a team that will do that. It may well be that some of the personnel may have to be revamped, which will happen through natural wastage anyway.

"I actually think it's a really good squad. They were a goalpost away from winning the Champions League. The problem is those goalposts have been moved by Barcelona in that competition and Manchester City have come through in the Premier League."

The ability of Liverpool, as well as QPR and Arsenal, to trouble Chelsea in recent weeks underscored some ominous signs. The sturdy spine of Chelsea's past successes is finally weakening.

John Terry and Ashley Cole have been in desperately uneven form this season - and Sunday was no exception. The pair were vulnerable to the movement and pace of Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy, while keeper Petr Cech's uncertain moments now appear with increasing regularity.

Frank Lampard, though still a strong influence, is in the twilight of his career. And while it is always dangerous to roll the credits on a player of Didier Drogba's quality, the old powerhouse is looking like a spent force.

For all Fernando Torres' qualities, and I remain an admirer, he is looking lost again at Chelsea, while David Luiz, the other January signing, was a mess of indiscipline against Liverpool. He marches to the beat of a different drum and leaves Chelsea's entire defence out of step, perhaps making the unease of Terry and Cole understandable.

Chelsea remain a serviceable top-tier Premier League team, but not one that will bring Abramovich his goal of the Champions League or even another title in its current guise and position.

And while Villas-Boas made his name on the back of winning the Europa League, he will know he must not take Chelsea anywhere near that competition on Abramovich's watch.

Villas-Boas has arrived at the time when these big changes must be made. He has bought well in Juan Mata, while Raul Meireles may yet prove a wise purchase.

He will also need to oversee the filtering of a new generation of talent into Chelsea's side, with Oriol Romeu, Romelu Lukaku, Daniel Sturridge and Josh McEachran among those hoping to graduate permanently.

This is all part of the challenge facing Villas-Boas, whose body language spoke of a man in the mood to accept it. Now Chelsea and Abramovich must hold steady and wait to discover if his plans come to fruition.

Comments

Page 1 of 16

  • Comment number 1.

    Terry and cole should get the stick.I am not surprised that the english journalists have gone after luiz.Chelsea are now playing a high line .The slowness of terry & cole to adapt both mentally and in speed was their downfall.And if it was all david luiz fault how come arsenal scored 5 when he was not playing.Terry once again being protected from criticism from his coterie of english journalists.

  • Comment number 2.

    Chelsea' autumnal slump is almost becoming as regular as Arsenal's end of season capitulations.

    I don't think that you can blame Andre Villas-Boas. He is lumbered with having to field three over-the-hill English plodders: Lampard (who's incapable of having an impact on any half-decent midfield these days), Terry (who spends more time on the floor than on his feet defending) and Cole (the less said about Ashley's recent performances, the better).

    What Villas-Boas needs to do, is to ditch these three players ASAP, and reinvigorate the squad in January, with a solid continental left-back, centre-back and central midfielder.

  • Comment number 3.

    The revolving door of managers at Stamford Bridge certainly has not helped the club with stability. I didn't agree with the dismisal of Carlo Anchelotti but I was not surprised. The lack of continuity has hampered Chelsea.

    I think each manager coming in is more focused on short term success rather than building for the future. It's not suprising given the short life expectancy of Chelsea managers. But as a result the squad has been neglected. Yes I know that a lot of money has been spent (Torres in particular) but a idea of where the team is heading does not seem clear to me. Was Torres brought in because he could fit easily into Chelsea's way of playing? I doubt it.

    AVB does need time and somebody who supports and admires Chelsea I hope he can succeed. What Chelsea do have in their favour come the title run-in is that experience of having done it before and won titles. That does count hugely.

  • Comment number 4.

    David Luiz was indeed a mess in yesterday's game and at time it seemed like Chelsea were 10men + David Luiz. He tends to do more than he has to and I feel his fellow defenders do not have the strongest of faith in him and that leaves the back four vulnerable.
    All in all, I agree with Pat Nevin. AVB is a really positive manager but he needs slightly more mobile players to aid his cause. If he manages to remain at the helm for the next 3yrs, I believe he can come up with a very good squad playing very good football.

  • Comment number 5.

    How any manager can possibly think that David Luiz is better than Alex in anything but five a side amazes me, I seldom agree with Gary Neville, he is spot on about Luis. We also keep hearing from you people (jounalists) that Ashley Cole is the best left back in the world, not sure which world you are thinking of, certainly not this one. For Ashley to be caught goalside is a novelty, he is arrogant and only offers anything going forward. With Chelsea at the moment, they are a side bereft of pace, with the exception of the full backs and perhaps Ramirez. AVB looks like a fish out of water and needs to get his team selection and formation correct if Chelsea are to challenge for a top four spot.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't think that you can blame Andre Villas-Boas. He is lumbered with having to field three over-the-hill English plodders: Lampard (who's incapable of having an impact on any half-decent midfield these days), Terry (who spends more time on the floor than on his feet defending) and Cole (the less said about Ashley's recent performances, the better).
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    why? hes in charge, he has money to spend, he sets the team out. Jose seemed to do alright, as did Ancelotti. If they are plodders (and of course you in your infinite wisdom would point out they are english, which is irrelevant), then why dosnt he set up to nullify, seems rather foolish to me. He won a pub league with a pub team, think the wrong appointment was made.

  • Comment number 7.

    How any manager can possibly think that David Luiz is better than Alex in anything but five a side amazes me, I seldom agree with Gary Neville, he is spot on about Luis.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    got to agree there, Alex makes Terry look good, Luis exposes him because he plays so different.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm pretty sure that nobody - other than those following the Sky Sports and red-top propaganda - would claim that Ashley Cole is ''the best left-back in the world'' (or, at least, not with a straight face.)

    Fabio Coentrão is 10 times better than Cole ever was.

    Now, perhaps a case could be made for Ashley being the best left-back at ''The Rose and Crown'' - but even that's a disputable claim...

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Fabio Coentrão is 10 times better than Cole ever was.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    laughable. but he does bare resemblance to Torres, maybe they do a double act in the strip in Thailand?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    There would be uproar at Stamford Bridge if a ''fan's favourite'' were to be dropped. In fact, some of the Chelsea fans may be so furious that their knuckles would rise above ground level. ;)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    and at what club would that not happen? theres always division when a player gets past their best as to whether they should still play. And I say again, AVB dosnt run the club, as big Phil, AG, and Ancelotti didnt, Abramavish does, hence why Jose had enough and went on to lesser things, the others just got culled.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I sometimes wonder whether they are actually interested in the football, or just interested in ''checking out'' the players?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As I said before I'm not english, so get it right.
    the same can be said for you. interested in football? or just spouting garbage about football.

    The comparison is easy to see, i dont see what your issue is.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've always been fascinated as to why the average English male fan spends so much time making observations and comments on other men's personal attributes.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    and how do you know I'm male? making gross assumptions there, be careful, Keys and Gray got sacked for that sort of misogynistic thinking.

  • Comment number 16.

    Ive only been reasing the comments on these blogs fairly recently. But its pretty obvious soul patch is trolling everyone badly. I should hope so. Because this is the first time ive actually read simething hes posted that i would actually consider correct.

    Ashley Cole ? The best left back in the world. That has simply never been the case. As for Terry hes always been fairly mediocre at defending and now that he isnt going forward and getting chelsea goals his performances are rightly coming under scrutiny. I still think you cant call Lampard past it however. Im sure the same was said of players such as Scholes and Raul and they kept playing brilliantly into much later yeara thank Frank, so you just never know.

    Im very worried for AVB right now. He needs to implement big changes into a weary looking chelsea side and i dont think hell have the support or the time to do it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ashley Cole ? The best left back in the world. That has simply never been the case. As for Terry hes always been fairly mediocre at defending and now that he isnt going forward and getting chelsea goals his performances are rightly coming under scrutiny. I still think you cant call Lampard past it however. Im sure the same was said of players such as Scholes and Raul and they kept playing brilliantly into much later yeara thank Frank, so you just never know.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    yeah, i have to agree, and Lamps was pretty solid in the England matches the last week. Just wait for soul patch to add his tag of Trafford Trundler to scholes. He really is a treat, get your popcorn ready......

  • Comment number 18.

    David Luiz looks far more interested in killing Bart Simpson than defending for Chelsea.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why does everyone forget to talk about Mikel. Mikel always makes Chelsea loose big matches. AVB should Romeu. Put luiz in the right back position...play Raul and lampard in midfield. Ramires on the right Mata on the left and and Torres as the centre forward. We need to get fresh blood and not necessarily superstars...Abramovich you raised Chelsea up with sensible buys and stars and not superstars. Chelsea must stop chasing what everyone wants and get what we need....We need a striker and a very creative midfielder

  • Comment number 20.

    Villas-Boas needs time to rebuild an ageing squad (Brits and non Brits) and reshape the squad in his style. That will not happen in one season but Abramovich is too impatient for that as he has shown more than once. He is a man used to getting what he wants when he wants.

    It is difficult to see how the revolving door of managers at Chelsea will ever stop as Abramovich searches for the yellow brick road that will take him to the Champions League trophy, in truth this path is getting ever longer.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why does everyone forget to talk about Mikel. Mikel always makes Chelsea loose big matches
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So glad United didnt get him in the end, i cant remember anything of importance he has done at Chelsea.......

  • Comment number 22.

    I am actually in agreement with soul_patch!

    AVB is a good manager and is trying to change things with what he has available. And unluckily for him, most his players are severly off form. Roman might stick with AVB, which is being reported, but I am not convinced. Roman never gives his managers time, and I think Hiddink, who is a brilliant manager, will turn his head. If Chelsea are out of the top 3-4 by Xmas. AVB will be on his way out.

  • Comment number 23.

    What Villas Boas needs to do is not pick Terry and Luiz any more, that would be a good start. Watching Terry this season, as a non Chelsea fan, has been hilarious. He's a walking disaster, much like Mertesacker at Arsenal. He has even less pace than before and his positional play has suffered because of that, always trying to nick the ball ahead of attackers as he know's he'll lose a foot-race with even the slowest strikers should they turn. The less said about Luiz the better, he needs to learn how to defend before he's picked again.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ Soul_patch any opinions on the other two top left backs in the prem? Evra and Clichy?

    As for chelsea, gary neville was correct in his description of david luiz, something along the lines of, "he played like he was controlled by a 10 year old playing fifa". All over the place. So not sure what buying another "continental" pro would achieve.

    I'm surprised he doesn't offer more chances to romeu and mcreachen (can't spell his name - apologies). And why is mikel anywhere near the team? He has to be the worst player in the prem, maybe even history of the prem. He certainly falls into patches' premiership plodders category that are better suited to the sunday league pub football....

  • Comment number 25.

    At half time Malouda walked off the pitch with not one drop of sweat on his forehead. Sturridge looked like he'd scored a hat trick with his celebration instead of a vital equaliser. Some big egos and lazy attitudes running through the team at the moment. Liverpool are a one man team in Suarez and are mediocre players but they worked their socks off. If John Terry can't kick his team mates up the a**e any more then he should retire. Chelsea could slump dramatically.
    Before the game kicked off I said to my son that Mikel would get caught in possession too much. As Montgomery Burns says, "He should hang his head in shame."

  • Comment number 26.

    And as has been mentioned, I still chuckle at United fleecing Chelsea for £16.5 for Mikel!

  • Comment number 27.

    He has even less pace than before and his positional play has suffered because of that,
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    thats why Alex should play with Terry (if he should play at all) he covers JT's backside quite well.

  • Comment number 28.

    Liverpool played very well, especially in the first half and shunted Chelsea out of their game. Not sure any of the Chelsea back line were that impressive. Luiz looks better going forward at times than he does defensively but to be fair there seems to be no decent partnership with Terry that allows Chelsea to be able to play a high line with any confidence. Shame the we didn't see more of Torres but thankfully KK kept Andy Carroll well away from most of this game. Still cannot see why anyone would've paid £35m for this guy.

  • Comment number 29.

    24. At 09:43 21st Nov 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    @ Soul_patch any opinions on the other two top left backs in the prem? Evra and Clichy?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's a good job I wasn't eating my porridge, otherwise I would have spluttered it out when I saw ''Evra'' and ''top left-backs in the prem'' in the same sentence!

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you made a typo. I presume you meant to say Jose Enrique.

    I was never overly convinced with Clichy when he was at Arsenal, and I would hold judgement on him for now. After all, with the shocking standard of opposition that City have played against so far, their defenders are practically reclining in armchairs with their pipe and slippers for most of the 90 minutes.

  • Comment number 30.

    david luiz is a quality player, yeah he might slip up every now and again but i cant hold a grudge with the guy, same goes for our terrance. We'll bounce back, just getting abit unlucky at the minute.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 29 LOL

    while jose enrique is a top LB for plodders newcastle and liverpool I doubt he is of the man utd, man city calibre.....I mean he can't even get into the Spain squad ahead of capdevilla and jordi alba. I forgot to add leighton baines to that list.

    And like I said in reference to your comment that chelsea should get rid of their 3 england players for classy continental pros. If you're buying 3 more david luiz's and mikels, I'd rather english plodders, than foreign pub plodders (for the uefa homegrown players rules of course).

  • Comment number 32.

    It's ridiculous to criticise David Luiz so harshly - he is a bit impetuous and his booking was unnecessary, but he marked Suarez out of the game yesterday and held the high line perfectly (unlike some of the other defenders who constantly allowed players in behind). Cole and Malouda were at fault for Liverpool's winning goal and Terry is looking very fragile at the moment.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hopefully, Abramovic will learn that patience is a virtue, as he repeated firings haven't yet brought the success he craves. And in fact it has been downwards since Mourinho.

    However, AVB needs to learn that you don't do yourself any favours by ignoring the signings the owner has sanctioned himself.

    Torres is still a hugely talented player, even if he needs to find his form. And while Drogba is a good player, he is at the end of his career.

    Torres will come good with games. Bit parts and late shows will only serve to keep his moral low.

    Also he will have to re-examine the defence. May all the furore around Terry has affected the defence, maybe they're just being exposed by the midfield, maybe they're just not up to scratch any more, maybe they were just unlucky.

    But to shoot the manager so early can only be folly. Big players have peaked and now on the slide, other teams have improved. You don't become a bad manager overnight.

  • Comment number 34.

    AVB should've seen this a mile off. Everyone knows how impatient and trigger-happy Abramovich is. How many managers since he arrived?

    Long may this Chelsea run continue!

  • Comment number 35.

    But to shoot the manager so early can only be folly. Big players have peaked and now on the slide, other teams have improved. You don't become a bad manager overnight.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    agreed, but RA has sacked managers for less, 4 losses? 2 at home?

  • Comment number 36.

    Man United fan wrote:
    I think each manager coming in is more focused on short term success rather than building for the future. It's not suprising given the short life expectancy of Chelsea managers. But as a result the squad has been neglected. Yes I know that a lot of money has been spent (Torres in particular) but a idea of where the team is heading does not seem clear to me. Was Torres brought in because he could fit easily into Chelsea's way of playing? I doubt it.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Super post,you have exactly identified the problem at Chelsea.

    Fergie has the time and luxury to think about what type of squad he wants at United 3 or 4 years into the future and plans accordingly.

    At Chelsea our managers can look no further than 3 or 4 months into the future.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 32 I think chelsea are badly missing essien, or a player like him to play the holding role. The defence was exposed far too often (especially on the counter with pacey players like suarez & bellamy) and mikel isn't up to the task. Ramires looked like he did his best impression of a headless chicken, lord knows why he's ahead of raul meireles at the moment?

  • Comment number 38.

    As a United fan, I have to admit since the World Cup, Paddy has been absolutely terrible! Ashley Cole who was the best left back in the world (more through lack of competition than anything else) is going the same way as Evra.

    Clichy...dear me. Worse than Evra. He was a massive liability at Arsenal and with City is protected by the DMs and the fact the opposition never attacks. That said, he was awesome against United. Zabaleta is by far City's best left back.

    Baines & Jose Enrique are the best left backs in the PL. Coentrao going forward is incredible, not sure about defensively.

    I really liked Capdevila but it seems he's lost his place in the Spain team? Don't know enough about the new guy to comment.

    No other names spring to mind re LB. Any suggestions of good LBs on the continent Soul Patch?

  • Comment number 39.

    Luiz looks better going forward at times than he does defensively but to be fair there seems to be no decent partnership with Terry that allows Chelsea to be able to play a high line with any confidence.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is where AVB needs to take some of the blame in my opinion. Playing a high defensive line with a centre back pairing that have no understanding is suicidal, especially as one has zero pace to get back if it goes wrong.

  • Comment number 40.

    @31 I am a united fan and I can admit Evra isn't a top left back anymore, and hasn't been for a while now. And IMO Jordi Alba looks quality, if Enrique keeps his form up he will make the Euro squad.

  • Comment number 41.

    31. At 09:55 21st Nov 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    I mean he can't even get into the Spain squad ahead of capdevilla and jordi alba.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That doesn't preclude the fact that Jose Enrique is the best left-back in the EPL.

    After all, Jordi Alba and Capdevila would walk into United or City's squad if they were lucky enough to even be in the running for these two sparkling Spanish pros.

    Jordi Alba > Evra
    Capdevila > Clichy, Kolarov.

  • Comment number 42.

    Lampard, Terry and Cole do not have the technical ability to play in a team that plays proper football. Nor does Mikel, incase anyone accuses me of being anti-English.

    They did well when Chelsea were a team of glorified cloggers. AVB is foolish to try and change the teams style of play away from this, because Roman will not give him the time to do so. It's a vicious cycle.

    Chelsea sold their soul to the devil in 2003, and this is the price.

  • Comment number 43.

    Although he's made mistakes, my fellow cfc fans should get behind AVB because he's inherited someone else's squad and is trying to change things. He's inherited poor players like Mikel, Malouda, Kalou and players who are past their prime in Drogba and Anelka.

    I really don't think cfc will get rid of AVB - a club who payed that much money for someone and who have bought the likes of Romeu and Lukaku aren't thinking short term. January should be about getting rid of Drogba and Mikel and starting to play more of Romeu, Mceachran and Lukaku.

    The midield is a concern - yesterday the Lamps, Ramires and Mikel combo was a worry from the start - where's the creativity? Lamps gets goals, Ramires runs a lot and Mikel... well who knows what he brings but cfc really need someone more dynamic in there, ideally someone like Schweinsteiger from bayern. Meireles is decent but plays best behind the striker rather than deeper in a middle 3.

    As for the defence, people have been questioning JT and even saying that Carvalho made him look good which is just ridiculous - If that's the case, why doesn't Vidic make Johnny Evans look like Maldini? It did help him having Makelele and Carvalho with him, but then when you see Samuel Eto'o put JT in his dream team for 442 magazine, then you get the idea that he might be a decent defender after all. As for now, he's playing with a different defender every week (with David Luiz who is possibly the least disciplined defender in the league and who shouldn't be near the frist 11) in a high line behind possibly the worst holding midfieleder in the PL in Mikel.

    Probably the most worrying thing is the lack of a source of goals, drogs and anelka are past it, we all know about torres which leaves over reliance on Sturridge who is good but not in the Hernandez, van persie, balotelli, suarez or rooney class.

  • Comment number 44.

    At Chelsea our managers can look no further than 3 or 4 months into the future.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    yeah but to solve that problem would mean youd have no more money (as in RM walks) or he grows some patience.....

  • Comment number 45.

    Also, it has to be said Terry's (and Cole's) unwillingness to play a high line as per AVB's wishes has contributed to Luiz showing them up and vice versa. AVB needs to grow a pair and drop Terry. If he wants to play the high line then he needs more mobile defenders.

    Bosingwa - Ivanovic - Luiz / Alex - Cole.

    Maybe there's a case for Luiz taking Mikel's place in DMC?

  • Comment number 46.

    Towards the end of Mourinho's time at Chelsea the rumours were that Roman wanted a more pleasing on the eye style and he has seemingly been chopping and changing trying to find this since. AVB could be the person to bring both the style and the results but he does need time to do it. To me previous managers have had a great spine to the team which they just needed to add to. Now Cech, Terry, Lampard (Essien injured) and Drogba are all a little past their best and some really don't suit how Chelsea are trying to play.

    It's a lot to ask to contend with key positions being weaker than previous seasons, while changing the emphasis of the team while also winning everything!

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 38 & 41

    Decent left backs? Phillip Lahm....model of consistency and can play on either side. Model pro.

  • Comment number 48.

    He'll be out by Easter. If not Xmas.

  • Comment number 49.

    Torres's lack of goals is putting pressure on the rest of the team. If torres was taking his chances (and he gets more than most) the defence in perticular would have less pressure and would be more composed. Confidence or lack of it can effect the best defenders. You watch torres find his scoring boots and then chelsea will go on a winning streak or a clean sheet streak (remember cech terry and cole were part of that record clean sheet run a couple of years ago)

  • Comment number 50.

    I don't agree with the high turnover of managers excuse. Despite many mangers Chelsea have remained United's closest rivals and should have been in two Champions League finals. Possibly the new coach is struggling to get them playing his way. Possibly five or six players are simply not up to it. In terms of challenging for the Champions League now, Chelsea are seriously short of skill and pace. I feel sorry for Mata there's too much responsibility on him. For me him and Silva are probably the best technicians in the PL.
    But as I said earlier Liverpool are no oil paintings and ironically Torres is definitely £15 million better than Carroll. Carroll has always been well over rated.

  • Comment number 51.

    38. At 10:00 21st Nov 2011, becks-phone-call-went-to-me wrote:

    No other names spring to mind re LB. Any suggestions of good LBs on the continent Soul Patch?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Schmelzer, at Borussia Dortmund, looks very good every time I've seen him play. He's only 22, as well.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ashley Cole was undoubtledly the best left back in the world for a sustained period. Sure, that time has past, but he is still capable. Evra took over for a while, and still offers plenty, but he is also no longer the best, certainly on the defensive side.

    Back to Cole, when your team is lacking going forwards and going back, it is going to expose you. That doesn't mean you're suddenly rubbish.

    Come the New Year window, and the summer, expect AVB to be active in the market. You have to get to know the players, see what they can do and let them stake a claim. Only then can you make changes to bring in the kind of players you need.

    There a number of good defenders out there, but none will be interested in moving during the winter due to their being cup-tied in the CL. However, there are some midfielders who can shore up a weak midfield.

    Again, Mikel is not a holding midfielder and never has been. Like Walcott, don't be surprised when they fail to deliver when played in the wrong position.

    For Chelsea, this season should realistically about refreshing the squad, and getting them playing to a new tune, not firing the piper when he's mid way through the song. AVB just needs to make sure he's in the CL next year, else he is in deep doo doo.

  • Comment number 53.

    47.At 10:08 21st Nov 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    @ 38 & 41

    Decent left backs? Phillip Lahm....model of consistency and can play on either side. Model pro.

    ------------------

    Thanks for the reminder!! Can not believe I forgot such a good player.

    He now plays RB for Germany right? I wouldn't know his regular position for Bayern.

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh yeah, and Terry has got to go.

    He IS too slow.

  • Comment number 55.

    Lahm is a RB who played at LB for ages. He is probably the best full back in world football at the moment, on either side. But he won't be leaving Bayern any time soon.

    "Maybe there's a case for Luiz taking Mikel's place in DMC?"
    Good call.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 53 I know!! Often forgotten probably because he's so consistent. In the WC he played on the left, but he can play either side, depends on who the other full back is I guess?
    @ Patches not seen much of schmeltzer but will take a look!

  • Comment number 57.

    53. At 10:12 21st Nov 2011, becks-phone-call-went-to-me wrote:

    He now plays RB for Germany right? I wouldn't know his regular position for Bayern.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    He usually plays right-back for Bayern these days. Holger Badstuber - who's another excellent young German left-back - is the usual LB for Bayern and Germany.

  • Comment number 58.

    52.At 10:12 21st Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------

    You're right re Mikel. United bought him with view to him being an AM / no 10?

    Even then if that's the case, he hasn't shown anything going forward that would make me believe it. He doesn't seem to have any attacking instincts. However, maybe that's because he's such a good pro, he sticks to what he's told.

    I personally feel he's the good old "does a job" player. I certainly wouldn't be playing him ahead of Ramires / Luiz / McEachran / Romeu.

  • Comment number 59.

    56. At 10:17 21st Nov 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    @ Patches not seen much of schmeltzer but will take a look!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not sure he's going to be too mobile at the moment, because I think he's still got Arjen Robben in his pocket from the weekend. ;)

  • Comment number 60.

    I don't agree with the high turnover of managers excuse. Despite many mangers Chelsea have remained United's closest rivals and should have been in two Champions League finals.
    ---------------------------------------
    That is because the squad was good enough and established to withstand managerial change.

    But it is not now and it has been badly neglected as said earlier. There has been little anticipation of players peaking and starting their decline and as a result we are still looking for the likes of Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Cole, Essien and Anelka to do the business.

    Over the course of a season they can´t bail us out anymore, they are no longer good enough, and a manager like Fergie would never neglect a squad the way we have.

    Fergie would have started rebuilding Chelsea after we won the double.

    But we sat back and lauded it thinking we were the bees knees.

  • Comment number 61.

    The funny thing about all these Chelsea boys is, they don't recognise that we had the best out of Torres and that he was terrible for us for over 18 months - when he did get the games everyone suggests he needs - but sulked his way out of the club and betrayed every red int; the bargain.

    He was primarily responsible for us finishing 7th and being out of the CL, and getting Benitez the push - ditto all that possibly at Chelsea.

    Kenny couldn't get the helicopter started quickly enough in January when the 50m was on the table - Chelsea thought they were getting the Torres of 2008 - they weren't and haven't. Abramovich bought him, Ancellotti didn't and AVB is stuck with him.

    He is symptomatic of what is wrong there and we rinsed them with fee big time. haha

  • Comment number 62.

    Terry, Cole, Malouda and Mikel need to be got rid of. Luiz needs tempering, but he looked more irritated at having to constantly cover for Terry's lack of pace, than any overwhelming display of positional naivety. Luiz did his job yesterday, it was Terry and Cole who couldn't play a high line. His card was silly on his part, but he did have a good game, and i can see him maturing into a better player. He's certainly more intelligent at spotting potential trouble that Terry is, or ever was.

    I don't agree with getting rid of Anelka. In more than one game he swept the midfield because no one else was willing to do it, and he does a nice cross when there's anyone in the box. Whatever his "reputation", and i think it's unwarranted for his current mindset, he was pretty solid last season. There's more than one in front of him in the queue for a one-way taxi out of Stamford Bridge.

    Drogba's time is coming to a close. He still gets at defenders, but not with the same ruthless intent that he did before, and it was more than one occasion yesterday that saw him being bundled off the ball, by someone stronger, and faster.

    Lampard needs to have his playing time scaled back. Every second or third game might suit him better, and yesterday showed Frank will go absent more and more often.

    I'm no fan of Torres, but i share the view he needs to play more games, and for a whole game. There's been glimpses recently of his old form, but like any striker he needs good service, and match time, to gel the midfield/forwards collective positional "instinct". Mata, Anelka, Ramires can all pass the ball well, and when Torres is added, i think these 4 could provide a nucleus that would serve Chelsea better.

    Chelsea still have the ability to hurt opposition, but AVB needs time to shove out the old, and gel the new. There's no room for sentiment in the modern game, and the 4 i mentioned need got rid of asap, to make way for a fresh perspective from which the rest of the team can spring. Terry, Cole, Mikel and Malouda are all passengers guilty of a lack of pace, and ever growing incompetence. Most teams could probably cope with 1 or even 2 passengers on any given day, but when 4 of them turn up regularly, it's a massive task for the rest of the team to carry them.

    History counts for nothing when the next game is coming up, and no matter how much noise is made about fans "favourites", sooner or later players reach their sell by date, and need moved on or retired. Chelsea have at least 3 that are past their sell by date, and should have been moved out a couple of seasons ago.

  • Comment number 63.

    You watch torres find his scoring boots and then chelsea will go on a winning streak or a clean sheet streak (remember cech terry and cole were part of that record clean sheet run a couple of years ago)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Maybe but Terry wasn't as slow as he is now and he had positional sense back then, something he now appears to lack. Even Cole is now starting to show signs of decline. As for Torres, is he going to find his scoring boots again? This isn't a baron run of a few games, he's been rubbish for almost two years now. He was poor for Liverpool before the World Cup, garbage in the World Cup, poor for Liverpool before the January transfer window (the only team he did anything against was Chelsea!) and has been simply atrocious since.

    It could be the worst transfer of all time so far. £50 million and a reported £190'000 a week, ouch.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is Juan Mata Wayne Rooney with a curly wig on? (Would that he had his talent!). Saw Kerry Dixon on Chelsea TV insisting Chelsea weren't "far off" and making everyone uncomfortable by his obsequiousness. Is he employed by the club? Things are badly wrong Kerry, mate and if you can't see that I suggest you go work for Egyptian TV.

  • Comment number 65.

    Man City show what can be achieved with limitless resources and a manager who is a grown-up.

  • Comment number 66.

    Kenny couldn't get the helicopter started quickly enough in January when the 50m was on the table
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Ditto Mike Ashley

  • Comment number 67.

    Chelsea fans..remember that you have Essien to come back into this team..Altho thats probably been said over the last few seasons before he gets yet another injury. Mikel is not and has never been the answer. Ashley Cole isnt right now the best but there have definitely been phases of career where hes probably been the number 1/2 ranked left back..Its very easy to pour scorn once a player gets a bit older and has his first bad season since...well...ever..Im no chelsea fan or ashley cole fan but his footballing career should earn him a lot of respect at the very least. Football fans are as fickle as anything so im not surprised to be reading these comments.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think Chelsea have an incredible squad. Probably 2nd in the league behind City's. What their problem is (maybe due to the naivéte of their manager) is they can't work out which way to play.

    Yesterday, there was a bit of the old style with Drogba starting up front instead of Torres suggested they'd go direct (which they attempted in the first half) but also at the same time they tried a relatively new philosophy of playing a high line. With Liverpool's strengths being Bellamy and Suarez's pace, and Adam to play balls in behind it was a bad decision.

    Especially considering Terry at al's unwillingness to change.

  • Comment number 69.

    All Chelsea's issues arise from the defence. Teams are picking off our high line with ease and the indiscipline of Luiz is only adding to the problem.
    I'm glad AVB has finally seen through the defensive lapse of Bosingwa and returned Ivanovic to the position in which he was player of the year last season.

    Luiz remains the problem though as he is undoubtedly a fantastic footballer. Solution I think would be to play him in a more holding midfield role insread of Mikel and return the usually reliable Alex to play alongside JT.

    I think the players that need to be moved on are Malouda, Mikel, Kalou and sadly Drogba, who looks a shadow of the player he was. Torres needs to be stuck with come what may. How else is any form likely to return?

    Best current Chelsea line up would be:-

    Cech

    Ivanovic Terry Alex Cole

    Lampard Luiz Ramieres

    Sturridge Torres Anelka

  • Comment number 70.

    It’s pretty obvious to me what is wrong with Chelsea at the moment and I don’t know if RA is telling the managers who should play or not but if so then what’s the point in hiring someone?

    Mikel, Malouda, Drogba and Terry are no longer the players they were a few years ago (Although Mikel has never been a player) and these guys should really be dropped, I know among Chelsea fans guys like Drogba and Terry are highly though of but with the way AVB sets up they just don’t fit in anymore. Mikel seems to play in most games and I really do not see what he bring to the game as he constantly loses possession in vital areas and next to nothing going forward, I can only assume AVB is being told to play some of these guys as I can’t believe anyone would play him week in week out.

    Chelsea are really feeling the strain at the moment and missing out on Modric was a hammer blow it seems! Would he want to go now after such a poor start to the season with Spurs in a much better position to finish in the top 4 than Chelsea?

    There is much deadwood to get rid of and it’s just a case of who will come in for the likes of Malouda, Terry, Anelka, Mike, Lampard and Drogba? And then who would come in to take these players places?

    AVB deserves time to make his mark just like the great SAF got when starting out at United….but we all know RA and his obsession to win at any cost.

  • Comment number 71.

    "but sulked his way out of the club and betrayed every red int; the bargain"
    Rubbish. Your board betrayed the fans, not Torres.

    For years he had been promised support and instead had Ngog as backup. For years he was rushed back from injury, played when exhausted until you ran him in to the ground.

    Then you dropped most of the money on an average player.

    Torres is still capable of delivering as well as he ever has, but he is off form, and lacking in confidence. He needs to get back to playing on instinct, rather than lost in the cloud of overthinking things that comes with lack of form and confidence.

    Rooney was given the chance to play his way out of his cloud, and that is the only way it will happen, be it at Chelsea or the likes of Milan. If you don't back him and support him, you'll lose him and then you'll see him banging in the goals for another club.

  • Comment number 72.

    Essien is well past his best, the only position he can possibly play for Chelsea is the holding role,but he is finished as that dominant and forceful attacking midfield player he once was.

  • Comment number 73.

    "and he had positional sense back then"
    Terry has never had good positional sense, he has just been surrounded by players who know how to cover his excesses.

  • Comment number 74.

    @63. Wasn't ashley cole in the team of the season last season? They have lost pace (cole and terry) but they're still class, just lacking confidence. I agree with what you say about torres, hes been shocking for a while now, but you cant write him off because he his age on his side. He has long enough to rediscover his best form. Form is temperary but class is permanent.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Form is temperary but class is permanent."
    Exactly, he can score the kind of goals most strikers only dream about.

  • Comment number 76.

    @71 GenesisRed

    you are right. As a LFC fan, and most LFC fans would agree. Torres didnt let LFC down, we let Torres down.

    People forget, his boyhood club is Atletico Madrid. He left them to pursue Champions League. At the time, LFC was seemed best suited, 1 win and another final.

    But, the turmoil inflicted by Hicks & Gillete was devistating, we should always remember that.

    The one thing that LFC fans would prob never know is, why didn't he give the new board and Kenny a chance.

    Our new board (FSG), seems like the perfect owners and have given the support and taking the club forward the right way.

    We have dominated teams, but have not finished them off. Draws against Utd, Norwich, Swansea and Sunderland should have been comfortable wins considering our domination in the games.
    If we had a deadly finisher such as Torres, which he still clearly is, we would have had 6-8 points more this season.

  • Comment number 77.

    A Big Change is needed in Chelsea! Simple as That, AVB a good manager who likes to attack, and play the high line , However with chelsea old player, (terry, cole etc) are to old and will always fail.

    so 2 options - Kick Terry, Cole Etc and bring in some new young fresh blood
    or STOP PLAYING a high line! and still buy some good players

  • Comment number 78.

    lol@18

    Torres was right when he said Chelsea are too slow. Yesterday they could neither make use of the long ball or pass it through the midfield.

    Chelsea are like a Chieftain Tank - solid, slow and tough, so they can't perform like a Porsche.

    Mourinho's success was built on grinding out one nil wins with the tank.

  • Comment number 79.

    73.
    At 10:34 21st Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    "and he had positional sense back then"
    Terry has never had good positional sense, he has just been surrounded by players who know how to cover his excesses.


    I agree with this. Terry's overrated, imho, and successive back line players have had to cover him for many years.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think Chelsea have an incredible squad. Probably 2nd in the league behind City's. What their problem is (maybe due to the naivéte of their manager) is they can't work out which way to play.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On paper, and judging on the players form from two years ago then yes they do. In reality, and from watching thier performances from this season then clearly they don't.

  • Comment number 81.

    To be honest, long term bringing in alex to cover for terry is a pretty pointless solution. Give it 2-3 years and terry will be hanging up his boots. If anything, chelsea need to be bringing in a promising young cb now to get experience and play with the chelsea team. Look at utd (smalling & jones) liverpool (coates) they will have cb's coming through even city have savic. Chelsea's squad is quite thin defensively.

  • Comment number 82.

    Ive just been reading some of these comments.
    As a chelsea fans. It seems to me this has become a blog for (mostly) pathetic chelsea haters who have nothing better to do then criticize - when you are all probably man u / arsenal fans who arnt doing much better with the excpetion that man.u have had a lot of luck and not much else like chelsea etc...
    Let me set some things straight you sad nuch of people
    1) Despite what avb says - we are unfortnatly in transition much like united where when we trounced everyone in the prem for two years - with no obvious oppostion ot our suppiriority.
    2)John terry & Ashley cole have had some shocking games lately...but are still england shoe ins - such is the qaulity (or not so) of the national team.
    3)David Luiz _ (and this goes for the sweat patch of villa....hiecenda and all the rest) Is if you watch him play an absolutly amazing footballer, and is one of hte most confratble players on the ball i would say as much as mata & silva (manc) His temeprment and decision making are more than infuriating and his defending is a liability. Too say he is not a good player is moronic. I suggest he starts in midefield and makes that his position for years to come, then perhaps when he matures a bit he can play in the back - a world class player that can pay anywhere. After all your not that bad if barca want to buy you for £30m, are you?
    4)AVB does not know his starting 11. this is what is hurting the side at the moment as he doesnt know his best team. Mata really isnt impacting like he should because of the managers selection - it seems to me that although mata was his signing he is isolating him in games far too much.
    5) that is all, tell me how bad our defence is in may ;)

  • Comment number 83.

    Torres is failing because of Chelsea's style of play.

    Gloryhunter Lampard and zero creativity Ramires & Mikel mean it is impossible for him to get good service.

    That miss against United aside and the confidence issue, he is no worse than before.

    Chelsea are still used to playing their full backs as wing backs and their "wingers" getting in the box for Drog's knockdowns and Lampard chilling on the edge of the box to deflect in any loose clearances / pull backs.

    None of the above is Torres' game. He needs Mata playing in midfield with Sturridge and Anelka either side of him. Lampard now needs to adapt his game for the benefit of the team to play deeper and keep things simple rather than the free scoring role he's become accustomed to.

    With Ramires / Luiz beside him and Ivanovic & Alex as the CBs, Chelsea (and Torres) will improve no end.

    Seems at the the moment AVB is stuck in two minds as to which way to play.

  • Comment number 84.

    Soul Patch....your comments have just become boring and repetitive. For the people who might have been partly amused by your sense of humour, the effect has worn off. Please leave. Ta.

  • Comment number 85.

    Chelsea will soon be London's 3rd best club. They are woefully short of strength and rely far to much on the old guard of Terry, Lampard & Cole who are really beginning to show their sell by date. I think AVB does need time to get his stamp on things, but we've seen from Roman, that time is a luxury no manager ever has at Chelsea. Hiddink will be in charge at some point this season and maybe he will galvanise but the squad needs an overhaul.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Even though it would be ludicrous to sack Villas-Boas I feel compelled to pen a blog speculating that there will be speculation that he might be sacked blah blah blah....."

    Saw a fair bit of the game on TV yesterday and have to say that it was a game of two right-backs. Firstly there was Glen Johnson, scoring a top class winning goal and showing why he is rightly England's first choice in his position. And secondly there was Gary Neville, rightly lauded for his recent contribution to the football media world, impatiently opening the door of the United dressing room in recent weeks, and yesterday, not for the first time, bizarrely unwilling to criticise Liverpool football club it seems. The sound of him bigging up Suarez yesterday was particularly unpleasant, and if he's not careful he could find that dressing room door has slammed shut on him.

  • Comment number 87.

    Here are some major factors to why Chelsea are struggling to cope at present.

    1. David Luiz is not a central defender, his talents are best going forward.

    2. Mikel isn't good enough!!! He has now had a few seasons under his belt to establish himself within the first team and to hold down a defensive midfield position which he struggles to do and to add insult to injury he offers nothing going forward in terms of creativity.

    Luiz for me should be deployed in the Mikel role, holding midfield position for two reasons, one he shows more appetite to get forward than Mikel and can be a threat, second he tends to like to get stuck in and win the ball which is what you want from a holding midfield player rather than a central defender who is liable to committing fouls, from midfield he cannot give away penalties.

    Now Villa Boas saw Mikel at fault for Liverpool's first goal but did NOTHING to change the midfield that was struggling and creating nothing with Mikel in there to slow down the pace. Mikel is too pedestrian for me, he seems to need too much time on the ball and his distribution is average at best.

    When Boas changed the midfield second half Chelsea looked quicker, more mobile and there was better continuity in the midfield. Lampard needs to have players around him that can think and pass on the same level so Chelsea can formulate a much quicker and accurate attack. With Mikel in the middle to slow down the midfield Chelsea are struggling to get the ball quicker to the strikers and wide attacking players. What I noticed second half was a much improved approach in the final third by Chelsea with Mikel taken off. The pace and awareness was greatly improved.

    Now back to David Luiz.

    This kid has talent there is no doubt about it, but it is suicidal putting him in central defence where he can be go walkabout and moving away from his defensive position and with his eagerness to challenge for the ball can give away needless fouls in and around the box. Luiz should be placed more forward and adapt to a defensive midfield role where he can stick a foot in and also offer his attacking abilities for the benefit of the team.

    Then we can bring in Alex, a far more defensive and sensible central defender who defends properly and offers another aerial threat in the opposing box from set plays.

    I hope Villa Boas reads these comments on here and can learn from Chelsea fans feedback and concerns, because he needs to be seen now that he has to start making some major decisions and making big changes to a system and team sheet which isn't working for him.

  • Comment number 88.

    "Chelsea are like a Chieftain Tank - solid, slow and tough, so they can't perform like a Porsche."

    That's the thing, too many players from the Jose era are still around and are finding it difficult to change the system they were used to playing.

    The way Chelsea used to play got the most out of players like Drogba and Terry...now with players such as Mata and Torres that system is pointless and does not get the ebst out of these players.

    Torres should not have said what he said but he was correct in that Chelsea are too slow for the way he likes to play. You are never going to get the best out of him giving him 10 minute cameos and a game here and there.

    You can get away with a couple of over 30's in a side like Giggs and Scholes last season but Chelsea have Anelka, Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Malouda who are seen as 1st team players.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think until Abramovich stops interfering with the playing side of the club by feeling the need to randomly flex his financial muscles (Torres, Schevchenko etc) then what chance does the manager have? Maybe Man City will do well in this CL season but only because the owners have provided cash for the manager to spend and not forced players upon them.

    It seems that AVB is trying to play a style of football that is almost completely 'foreign' to his players. Luiz may well be able to play the high line and is one of the best CBs going forward but what good is that when he either can't or won't defend? Terry is in the middle of a shocking turn of form but his status as England Captain seems to be buying him games. Cole always has been one of the best LBs going forward but is also one of the worst going backwards and finally, Mikel is NOT and will never be Michael Essien so the World Class cover that the Chelsea defence once had is gone and they are showing it by shipping goals...

    AVBs future will be determined by the Champions League i.e he HAS to win it. But he won't and this ever hilarious cycle of the Abramovich managerial circus will continue.

    Question is will RA's money/interest run out before the top coaches cotton on and there's no-one left to hire?

  • Comment number 91.

    If we had a deadly finisher such as Torres, which he still clearly is, we would have had 6-8 points more this season.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    So isn't that Dalglish's fault then? Getting rid of Torres for £50 million was a great decision, spending the money on Carroll and Suarez was not. Suarez does some good things on the ball but he doesn't really look like a goal scorer. Before with Liverpool, you always thought Rush, Aldridge, Fowler, Owen, Torres (before he turned into a massive donkey) would on the verge of scoring at all times. I don't expect Suarez to score unlike those i've mentioned.

  • Comment number 92.

    @76, Biggles...

    Exactly right. As far as why he didn't give the new set up a chance, I guess the bid came at the right time. As a United supporter, I was nervous of the Suarez Torres potential partnership - on paper was one of the most perfect match-ups. And Hodgson should have had the credit for that (and been allowed to stay and have the impact with this).

    However, with all the changes, the controversy with the board, and yet another change in manager, I can imagine Torres saw greener grass at Chelsea - after all, when you feel unsupported, someone offering £50m for you is quite the endorsement.

    I feel sorry for Torres, who has missed out on the ideal player, and moved to a club which doesn't offer what he needs at all - but not for Liverpool or Chelsea, obviously.

    For his sake, I hope a move to Milan with Tevez is on the cards.

  • Comment number 93.

    The sound of him bigging up Suarez yesterday was particularly unpleasant, and if he's not careful he could find that dressing room door has slammed shut on him.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    no way, its his job now, and he'll do what he did when he was playing say what he thinks, and he is right in this case. G-Nev is as red as it gets......remember the 80yd dash to the Kop?

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 82

    It's not "chelsea hating" it's just largely agreeing to the common observations that luiz defensively is erratic, going walkabout during games, frequently out of position etc. No one is disputing he is a good player.
    Likewise with torres etc, all we're acknowledging is that chelsea need to make some changes to their personnel, otherwise AVB will be out of a job and chelski will be back to square one.
    THe only truly awful players is mikel, which even chelsea fans don't bother to argue with!!

  • Comment number 95.

    Ah the old Gillet and Hicks spin again. Won't get into that for fear of getting linked to some myopic blog or other, but suffice to say that Dalglish has recently been lauding Carrol as his minus £15m man as if he's not actually blown the Torres loot on someone who at the moment at least couldn't even get in a team of Nigel Spackman's and Glen Hysen's.

  • Comment number 96.

    btw, are all those who lambasted Johnson for England still of the same opinion?

  • Comment number 97.

    To be honest, if Torres played for Arsenal and they still had Fabregas, they'd be top of the League.

    However, ifs and buts get you nowhere.

    What AVB or more preferably from an England perspective, the Chelsea stalwarts need to understand is that the day & age of kick and rush football to the likes of Drogba is gone.

    Pressing, high line, short pass and move football is the way forward.

  • Comment number 98.

    Villas-Boas is not an excellant manager!

    I think that sort of term gets thrown around far too often, he is a good manager with great potential but to call him excellant is a bit premature.
    Excellance should be reserved for the likes of Ferguson, Paisley, Clough.

    This blog makes it seem that AVB is Irreproachable and should be given years to mould chelsea in his way. Even the most basic of manager knows that a strong team is built on a strong defence. Mourinho he is not!

  • Comment number 99.

    Roman Philosopher no.60 - I don't disagree. Chelsea started to become a force under Bates when Gullit, Zola et al started to arrive. It is testament to the strength of the squads over the years that under various coaches they have been right up there. Now they are in a bit of a mess and if the coach hasn't got the belief in McEachran, Lukaku, Romeu and has to stick with Malouda, Mikel, Drogba then more money is required. People shouldn't bad mouth Terry, Lampard, Cole, Drogba they have been great players and equally I think Luiz is a very talented footballer. It's all in his head.
    Chelsea should have gone for Lahm and Schweinsteiger a couple of years ago. But then again shouldn't everyone.

  • Comment number 100.

    93 i remember John O'Shea slamming the ball into the kop end net if that helps

 

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