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AVB: Abramovich's test of faith?

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Steve Wilson | 15:25 UK time, Wednesday, 22 February 2012

When Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas trudged off the pitch at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples on Tuesday, you could hardly say he was heading for the sanctuary of the dressing room.

After another defeat, this time to Napoli, it is in the dressing room that his problems seem to lie.

I like Villas-Boas. He was a bit sparky when I suggested to him that Chelsea were not the better team against Manchester United recently, but we agreed to disagree with a firm handshake and a sort of smile.

When you take into account that he conducts all this verbal sparring with the media in a foreign language, he is all the more impressive.

Andre Villas Boas

Still awaiting Abramovich's public backing, Villas-Boas cut a lonely figure in Naples. Photo: Getty

He certainly doesn't lack self-belief, or bravery. To leave Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole out of his side in Naples suggests a strength of character which will stand him in good stead in the future.

He has only been a manager for little more than two years and he will be an outstanding manager in the years ahead - but where will that future be?

His call for Roman Abramovich to make public the support he says he has been given in private has, so far, fallen on deaf ears.

The former Porto boss seems to be in a battle for control with some elements at the club who are, at best, ambivalent towards him. If Abramovich were to make it clear that there can only be one winner in that battle, then those dissenters would either have to like it or lump it.

The silence from the top continues to be deafening, and that is undermining the manager.

Forget this being Villas-Boas's biggest test, I make this Abramovich's biggest test in football too. In appointing a 33-year-old, the Russian went out on a limb - now does he have the conviction to back his man against an internal chorus of disapproval?

Abramovich can certainly afford to go through the whole expensive firing and hiring process again. After all, it has been suggested recently that he may have spent more on boats than football in the last couple of years.

But while Villas-Boas is fighting for his Premier League future, there is no doubting who holds the power at Manchester United.

I enjoyed listening to 70-year-old Sir Alex Ferguson sit down with DJ Spoony to talk about his life and times and, no doubt, to catch up on the UK garage music scene.

When he saw Spoony's interview request, Ferguson probably had to check with some of his squad that it was not a wind-up. I can hear it now, "Aye, but I cannae call you that, what's your real name, son?"

In the interview, Ferguson said he will have another two or three years in charge before taking an ambassadorial role at the club. I'll believe it when I see it.

It would not surprise me one iota to see Fergie as manager at Old Trafford beyond that.
Bobby Robson went on past 71, Craig Brown will be 72 this summer and is still the boss at Aberdeen and, in the German Bundesliga, Hertha Berlin have this week appointed Otto Rehhagel as their manager and he will be 74 in August.

It seems there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    To call Napoli mediocre shows sheer arrogance and a lack of respect for them.

    That said, its so easy to blame the elder members of the squad for the mess but in truth that's being rather apologist.AVB has made some AWFUL decisions in his short reign at Chelsea.One wants to back up whatever 'project' he has but if that so called 'project' includes playing Meireles as DM week in week out, destroying Chelsea's best asset-the defense,dismissing signings like De Bruyne as 'not my own' and letting kids rot on the bench then honestly Id rather not back him as a Chelsea fan.

  • Comment number 3.

    But Napoli were mediocre :confused:

    How on earth Napoli even qualified shows the weakness of the Italian league at this time. They have a hell of a lot going for them, but next season's CL is unlikely to be one of them, let's be honest. It is surprising that they've been able to rip through both City and Chelsea with such ease, but they've not been any better themselves at the back in their home games with those two sides really - with a bit more quality Chelsea (and even little City) made plenty of opportunities to punish them.

  • Comment number 4.

    These days, a club of Chelsea's stature doesn't just write-off a season on a promise of their manager's potential. And in this case I think anything less than fourth-place will get Andre Villas-Boas the sack.

  • Comment number 5.

    Abramovich neeeds to put his mouth where his money is!

  • Comment number 6.

    To call Napoli mediocre shows sheer arrogance and a lack of respect for them.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I utterly agree, was amusing listening to the sky commentators saying how chelsea are the better team, yet if they think chelsea can get that much better, they will still have to cope with a forward line that must be overjoyed at the thought of playing this defence again. Furthermore, this EPL attitude to the rest of europe, reminds me of an andy gray quote about benfica; 'not good enough for the EPL', same benfica that KO'd both man u and liverpool that same year!

    for what its worth, sacking another good manager will not resolve the problem. who next? they have hired most decent managers available recently, mourinho, ancelotti and AVB..so who next? who is available? no one in the EPL, german, french or portugese leagues...so who left in spain and italy? guardiola, doubt he wants to go backwards...??

  • Comment number 7.

    It's difficult to believe that the majority of Chelsea players were in teams that reached the CL final, and should have again in 2009. The whole team looks completely different. The problems lie in defence: Terry's passed it, Alex is gone, Luiz is mercurial and there was never a decent replacement for Carvalho. What must Mourinho think of the goals his former team concedes now?

  • Comment number 8.

    @3 ROTFL Napoli mediocre as opposed to Basel who beat United. That's a good one. Yes the EPL is not mediocre at all. :)

  • Comment number 9.

    Chelsea never stood a chance against a Napoli side with the exceptional attacking trio of Hamsik, Cavani and Lavezzi. Only the strongest defences could hope to keep those three quiet, and Chelsea's back four have looked individually and collectively vulnerable all season.

    As for AVB, I really hope he stays. He has inherited a poor squad, and Chelsea's former bright stars such as Drogba, Lampard, Terry, Cole and Cech are looking weaker than in previous seasons, probably due to the fact they are getting on a bit.

    He needs time to rebuild the squad, and the start he has made is promising - Juan Mata, his signing, has been Chelsea's best player this season. Daniel Sturridge has also been good, and with other young players such as Romelu Lukaku and Oriol Romeu for AVB to nurture, Chelsea could become competative again.

  • Comment number 10.

    Getting rid of AVB solves nothing.

    He's made some bad team selections, worse substitutions and bought in Gary Cahill... but this is the guy that's been chosen and he should remain. He's young and needs time to learn and adapt, but still must make the top 4.

    The people at fault are those in charge of chelsea and who decide which players are signed. Chelsea have been going backwards for some time by buying second rate players. The main reason being that only 1 creative player has been bought in about a decade in Mata. Getting John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Cahill to replace Makelele, Ballack and Carvalho has been nothing less than a joke.

    The one thing a team needs is a consistent striker, which a past-it Drogba can no longer do. As for Torres, just watch clips of his liverpool days and he's a different player. Although I still think he plays best in a 4-4-1 rather than a 4-3-3 and until this changes expect the Torres 'mystery' to continue.

    Chelsea's transfer policy can be reflected in one summer saga - failing to get Modric and settling for Meireles, missing out on the world class and settling for the average.

  • Comment number 11.

    @9 totally agree, chelsea has players already that a team can be based around, mata, sturridge, lukaku, romeu. Be interesting to see how de bruyne will do next season especially as he's supposed to be a creative midfielder which chelsea do need in the middle. defence needs serious strengthening, terry and cole are declining and bosingwa has not been the same since his injuries a couple of years ago when he was doing ok.
    Can see chelsea finishing outside the top four which would probably lead to AVB being sacked but he should be given the chance to rid the squad of these older players who are now on the decline and probably no help in the dressing room

  • Comment number 12.

    The piece started out quite well. The author lost me when it became about how hip and great Sir Alex is. Hey, BBC, don't let a MANC Fan write an article about Chelsea, yeah? Cheers.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Chelsea squad is just too old! They need a massive overhaul of deadwood over-30s and to build around Mata and Sturridge if they're to return to the levels they were at a few years ago. I was surprised they paid so much for Torres when really they need to buy themselves a new team.

  • Comment number 14.

    Napoli mediocre, probably the wrong word to use, myself, I would use the words distinctly average for a group qualifying Champions League team.

    Napoli are certainly are not strong defensively, their midfield does not provide cover for the defence but they are half decent going forward, attacking wise, yes they can score goals. But I would say any average Champions League group qualifying team, would have scored goals against Chelsea last night.

    The fact that Napoli were in a group that saw the elimination of City, was more down to City's lack of tactical nous rather than Napoli's amazing play.

    I backed Napoli last night 4/1 with a -1 start. Even when Chelsea scored i'd seen enough to know they could not go 90 mins without conceding a few. They are actually living on their past exploits because they are a million miles from being the team they once were.

    Chelsea's major problem, the defence is detatched from midfield, their is absolutely no cover in front of the back four and the back four are all over the place. Even up front their is no cohesion.

    AVB has to take responsibility for this mess, he persists with weird team slections whilst showing a lack of tactical direction. I accept he may be trying to get Chelsea to play a different style but the very least one should expect is whilst he is doing that, the team should be hard to beat. They currently look like a team in freefall.

  • Comment number 15.

    And ya start Essien and Lamps. Meireles is a back-up, utility midfielder. Malouda hasn't impressed. Rameires unfit after his injury. Terrible team selection.

  • Comment number 16.

    AVBs comments on the signings that have been made, about them not being his own are truthful. It appears that Michael Emenalo is making the signings and AVB has to work with what he is given. Historically, Michael Emenalo was announced as assistant manager to Ancelotti after Chelsea sacked Ray Wilkins. Ancelotti said no way to Emenalo and appointed Paul Clement. Clement has since followed Ancelotti to PSG. Why Emenalo is so liked by the Chelsea hierarchy is obscure but he has inherited the Frank Arnesen role.

    A lot of fuss has been made about who AVB left out against Napoli. With the possible exception of Cole, they've been left out before and with good reason. Neither Mourinho or Ferguson would have put up with the leaks and mutiny being perpetrated by some of the senior players. Their performances too have been shabby.

    Lampard now plays for Chelsea like he plays for England. No creativity, afraid to make mistakes, too slow and never seemingly in the right position. Torres, no explanation needed. Essien, still has yet to recover from two long bouts of injury. Certainly not the player he was and sadly may never be again. Cole may be unhappy and he is not playing well. He has recently been suspended and injured.

    They players need to look to their own performances but the squad is weak and the tactics poor. Chelsea are simply not creating enough chances or taking the ones they do create. They are one paced, lack creativity, have no wingers, don't play a recognized holding midfield player to protect the back four and on the rare occasion they get a lead they can't keep it. How they are fifth in the Premier League is beyond me and I go to all the home games. The current crisis feels much the same as the destruction of the 1970s cup winning side.

    Of the eleven that started against Napoli they are all committed to Chelsea. Some of them may not be (are not) good enough for a team that wants to win the UCL and Premier League but they all tried. Certainly after Lampard and Essien replaced Malouda who was one of the better performers and the hapless Meireles, momentum was lost and Chelsea looked less likely to score.

    Tactically AVB seems to be weak. Even if he gets to clear out the squad in the summer, gets rid of the trouble makers and gets players that are his own choice will things improve dramatically? Sadly, probably not.

    The much bigger question that no-one seems to be asking and is much more relevant than "when will AVB get fired" is "how long will Abramovitch stay".

  • Comment number 17.

    Personally if i was the owner of Chelsea, I would sack AVB, purely because the job is too big for him. He has committed the cardinal sin, while rebuilding, you have to make the team hard to beat. He has done the opposite, they are just waiting to be beaten every time they turn out.

    What i would not have done as the owner, I would never have sacked the past managers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Firstly, I don't understand why Chelsea needs an overhaul and a new 'project'? The image we had previously of a hard grit, solid defending team was more than sufficient and quite successful. All the managers after Mourhino are trying to cope with that team, and now its about making the team 'better', whereas it was the best with Mourhino - why try and deviate it - why not apply similar principles.

    That being said, I hope AVB manages to show his 'project'. He has a lot to learn - he's too adamant on his ideas and needs to learn flexibility with different situations - in team selection, strategy etc. I feel like he hasn't been able to charge his team up for matches - there is hardly any fire in this Chelsea side. You'd expect it with a lot more younger fella's around.

    I also don't like the apparent Portuguese love being shown by AVB - while it may be true that Ashley was not selected over Bosingwa due to match fitness, returning from an injury, I really don't understand how Meireles is an exceptional player? In the post match interview he mentioned deciding on playing two CM sitting in front of the back four - in what world is Meireles better equipped for that compared to Essien. Apart from looking a mean lad, I don't think Meireles has anything to offer. Not to say that the bench did either, but I think Frank would at least do a better job compared to Meireles. Why not Oriol Romeu - he showed good promise, and always fought hard for the ball.

    I hope we can somehow turn around the second leg and get through - it will be a good victory for AVB and Chelsea.

  • Comment number 19.

    "how long will Abramovitch stay".

    I like that. Maybe what the club needs. I believe Lamps, Essien, Terry-- the core of Chelsea, still have alot to give. To write them off is naive as we will watch them go to another club and prosper.

    AVB is building a Portuguese squad. Centered around Meireles and that is scary. His selections lead me to believe he might not know what he's doing. Di Matteo played for Chelsea. Can't he convince AVB that defense creates offense?

  • Comment number 20.

    Chelsea need new blood and AVB is delivering that transfusion. Cashley Cole has not been the same player over the last 18 months he needs the bench to get him on form. Lampard has 2 maybe 3 years at this level. AVB is looking at three year plan and he needs to get rid of players whoe's player personalities are holding his vision back. He has also been given a order to create a team that plays exciting football team and is attractive on the eye and can win the premier league and champions league.
    AVB needs three season even Ferguson got 5 Arsene 2. They never had champions league expectations to do but created some great teams.

  • Comment number 21.

    Whatever the problem is, Mata and Sturridge are not the solution. Mata is too slow, he can't beat a player and at best is a squad player. Sturridge too is a squad player. His passing is poor, he is very one footed, he doesn't believe in defensive duties and far too many times this season he has failed to look up and pass to a player in a better position. Would they look good in a mediocre Premier League team? Absolutely. Are they good enough to be regular members of a Chelsea team that would win the Premier League or the Champions league? No.

  • Comment number 22.

    Arish
    @18
    I hope we can somehow turn around the second leg and get through - it will be a good victory for AVB and Chelsea.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The fact is Napoli are very beatable, they are average. BUT judging by what he has shown AVB cannot produce a team that can keep a clean sheet, therefore one would think they have little chance of turning it around.

    Any half decent manager, with the Chelsea players available would have produced a team that was hard to beat in the first leg. It's called tactical organisation, something that AVB lacks.

    I cannot recall seeing the first leg of European tie being played in the manner of Tuesday evening. There was certainly no intent on keeping the game tight from the start.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think AVB has tried and failed to stick to his principles. Having Romeu in midfield, play a higher defense line and move the ball around fast.

    he has been undermined at every turn by the senior players, particularly lampard and probably terry also. he has had to stick by torres (a 50 million investment he did not make) who has just failed spectacularly to produce while drogba is having a bad season also. i give props to avb for using sturridge as much as he has done, although he is the only one that deserves automatic start up based on form alone.

    the only ray of hope this year has been mata who is a great player but gets frustrated because he has to play with lampard and yield the centre midifeld to a slower player. it is no surprise chelsea has sunk so low.

    i blame avb for not sticking with his plan, start with your plan and stick to it. but if you yield to any pressure from players or media, you give the impression you are not confident, you are screwed. mourinho is a successful coach because he sticks to his plan.

    but what mourinho keeps getting right at each club is a solid defense. avb and ancelotti struggled to do the same at chelsea. i think cahill is a good signing but he needs to gel.

    i dont think however luiz is a defender, i d rather play him in midfield and put essien as cb. similarly bosingwa is worse than cole at the moment and ivanovic struggles without terry. all these issues can be fixed with more practice.

    point is avb is not at fault for most of the problems at chelsea and chelsea has been playing attractive football when they play open quick football. it does not always work of course mostly due to the personnel who need to play faster. it will happen, give the man some time and chelsea can be one of the most attractive sides to watch in the epl.

  • Comment number 24.

    For me, Chelsea have got big problems all over the park. Chelsea want to start playing this pleasing on the eye, expansive football but Stamford Bridge is too tight for this. Its’ suited playing the way they have with Lampard and Drogba's style.

    Torres - never has space in which to play.
    Mikel/Oriol are too one dimensional
    Ramires - He's not great defending, he's not great attacking - im not sure what he gives the team apart from running.
    Merieles -similar to Ramires – average
    Sturridge - Cant pass/ Wont pass/ doesnt want to pass - frustrating!
    Malouda - what does he give the team?
    Luiz - well.... I dont need to say anything really
    Bosingwa - light weight, cant defend.

    Chelsea still have great players; Cech, Cole, Terry, Mata, Torres, Drogba, Essien - the rest are average!

    Chelsea were a strong, combative, aggressive, powerful unit - keep that ethos - stop trying to be Barcelona.

    It was always going to be tough for AVB - going in to a tough (successful) dressing room and I think he was wrong choice from the start.

    Plus I just straight up don’t like him and his mannerisms on the touchline, like buddy I know how to play football - stop pointing and shouting at me, crouching, waving, kneeling, slouching, pacing, clapping, crying!!!

    Ps – not a Chelsea fan, just my thoughts!

  • Comment number 25.

    Good blog steve, until it changed into fergie territory.:-(

    I think AVB will get the sack if he does not finish fourth. He shouldnt really, because he is actually a very good young manager, but with abramovic at the helm anything is possibke. iI would put mainly down to poor team selection, and the theory that a high line and no defence gets you places. That would work if there was someone upfront doing the business, but when your main hope is mr torres, then you know its going to be a long season. I think mata has been average, and sturridge has been pretty good, but thats about it really.When mireles played for us, we used him in a more advanced role, he was more creative thats why he was ok but deploying him as a DM is a very silly decision. To all those tagging napoli as "average" and "lucky" please just stop. YES the were helped by chelseas poor defence but they still did well, if anyyhing they completly took the game by the throat and forced that result.

  • Comment number 26.

    To second the comment above, if AVB does get sacked who will replace him???? And more worryingly, with the pressures and demands of abramo-rich, who on earth would want ittt!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Chelsea's apparent decline can be traced back to one defining moment. The sacking of Jose Mourinho. Simple.
    Mr. Abramovich is fast running out of world class managers to appoint/fire (rinse & repeat)...& as some have aready alluded to, who in their right mind would want a job that offers not even short-term stability/backing/patience?

  • Comment number 28.

    Why would Mr Abramovic go public with anything? He nver has b4. And it is his right to spend more on his boats than on a team which is still the 2nd most expensive in the PL?

    Lets be clear, Chelsea are not Man City, they have about 8 years head start on Citeh. Chelsea have been at the top for about 8 years and this is due totally to Mr Abramovic. By now they should be self-sustaining - but they are pretty poor this term, Swansea played em off the park, as did a wonderful Napoli outfit, and they are now in danger of missing out on the CL to either Arsenal or Liverpool.

    AVB is totally underperforming. He could have bought Silva AND Aguero for the price of Torres - he chose not to.

    Why would you publically back a manager that is underperforming? It makes you look silly when you have to sack em. Which he will if they dont finish top 4.

    As for posts like that @27 - I think Guus Hiddink did pretty well did he not? Mate, AvB is on a small fortune, he should be doing better.

    And until Ray Wilkins left Chelsea were fine, there is no excuse for Chelsea suddenly looking so poor given the excellent players they still have.

    Luis is one of my favourite ever players to watch, Ramires is top notch, Essien is back, you have good full backs and Sturrridge, Drogba and Torres up front, they should be kicking ass, but they look like they are out of ideas - that just has to come back to the manager.

    Meireles was a terrible signing, Benayoun was a terrible signing. IMO Torres is still one of the very best, but something obviously aint right. AVB is a good bloke but he seems out of his depth.

  • Comment number 29.

    As good a manager he will one day become he is a little out of his depth at Chelsea and should of stayed with Porto. If he does get the sack then certain players etc (Terry, Drogba, Torres and Ashley Cole) should have a hard look at themselves even if they don't agree with his tactics and management skills. They need to start giving a manager time like Liverpool and Utd have done over the years instead of keeping the revolving door policy.

  • Comment number 30.

    I really do feel for Chelsea and for AVB. I firmly believe that sacking AVB is not the solution to Chelsea's hugely indifferent form this season (to put it mildly). I agree that he has made some tactical errors (one which glaringly strikes out is in the match against Man U), but every manager needs time and he needs to adapt to the BPL, which won't happen in one season of being incharge. As many of you have mentioned, he has inherited an aging squad who are well past their prime. Its just unbelievable to think just how bad their defense is and being an Arsenal fan, I kind of resonate to it pretty well!! Chelsea's defensive frailties and the reasons for it are there for everyone to see and comment upon, but equally, I find their midfield to lack the dynamism and creativity, which is needed in order to play this new brand of attacking style of play with a high-defensive line. The likes of Lampard, Malouda, Mikel, and Meireles will not really make the cut in my opinion and well past their best, and I think there needs to be a major overhaul in the middle of the park. The brightest spark in this team for me is hands down Mata, he is extremely versatile, can play anywhere in the wings or in the center, or play up front as well and the team has to be built around him; even more than Sturridge, as I find him to be too selfish at times, and thinks he can do more than is actually required, he still has a lot to learn. Chelsea, badly need someone to complement Mata, say probably in the mould of a Goetze, or Kagawa, and like one person said, I would play Torres in a 4-4-1-1, with Mata behind. Torres I believe has done everything this season except score, which I know is any striker's primary role, but he isn't getting the sort of service he deserves, and coupled with a huge lack of confidence, this is proving to be a deadly combination for him. I think, AVB is great for the BPL, young, great character and with fresh ideas, he needs time to implement and carry forward his 'new project', as I see no point in sacking him' there isn't anybody to replace him who I believe will do a better job with this current squad, and not sure whether anyone would want to take it up based on the club's managerial history over the last decade.

    Chelsea can certainly beat Napoli, but echoing many others, there is no way in this world that they are going to keep a clean sheet, and they are badly missing Terry. They should really focus on getting to fourth, as I think they can do it, because in my opinion Arsenal's team is the worst in years, and Chelsea's squad is at least a tad bit better than ours. Essentially both the clubs have so much in common: can't defend and a very mediocre midfield. Barring of course that we have someone like RVP, who I'm afraid won't be with us for too long.

  • Comment number 31.

    certainly not a mediocre Napoli side. Very strong seria A compard to recent years and this side are fabolous attack ing side. They might lack defensive qualities but for anyone to call the mediocre doesn't have a rational view on football

    Don't like AVB. can't quite work out why, i think it's ego but it's the way he talks, his language and mannerisms just leave me thinking there is something dislikeable about him. it's almost like he had a certain collection of words he is going to use and those words will be used regardless of the result. he seems utterly emtionless. It's nothing to do with him not being English his grasp of the language is as good as any native

  • Comment number 32.

    It is just as well the blog did sing the praises of SAF. It should remind all Chelski fans of the benefits of stability and long-term planning - something they don't have with an impatient oligarch as owner.

  • Comment number 33.

    Without any doubt Chelsea needs stability in management team, but with AVB as head coach - a big NO. He may hold promise but he has proved again and again that he is not suitable for the job.
    Managers are accredited for getting the best out of their players, for their development - AVB has done opposite, alienated senior players and using others any where he pleases. He seems to have forgotten man-management lessons or may have chosen not to read !
    He has shown his tough side by dropping Lamp but when Drog was away why not bench Torres and start Sturridge upfront - atleast try if not with starting 11 but last 10 min.
    A system is employed keeping in mind players available, he seems to choose a system and then put players.
    The worst bit, he had summer and winter transfer window, he claimed he is happy with the squad, so he should be delivering the minimum with this squad. But to make matters worse his buy Cahill had to wait one month to absorb concepts and understand his project.
    Mr AVB, your project is in red, you have missed all milestones till date and scrapping of project may be round the corner.

  • Comment number 34.

    abramovic has sacked way better managers than this: one who was a point off the championship & a penalty shootout away from the champions league, & one who won the double in his 1st season i'd say AVB's days are already numbered. also; why does everyone seem to adopt a john motson pronunciation of the s's at the end of villas boas

  • Comment number 35.

    AVB's decisions have baffled me this season and have driven me to despair recently.
    Aside from his apparent tactical ineptitude at times, I think problems have stemmed from his poor man-management. When Frank came out months ago in an interview and was asked what AVB had said what the reason was for him not starting, he replied he hadn't told him anything and he had no idea.
    While the Lampard bashers will say he is stirring up trouble, he was just being honest.
    Lamps is a true professional, has always given his all for Chelsea and has been a fantastic servant to the club, but I can understand if he has become disillusioned with things this season if the manager is not going to explain his decisions to him. And it must be pretty tough watching Malouda and Merieles start ahead of you. I mean, honestly, what position is Malouda playing these days?!
    People talk about the players not respecting the manager, but isn’t AVB showing a lack of respect for the players by not communicating with the players?
    I don’t like to use the Mancs as an example, but do you think Giggs and Scholes would have played on for so long if fergie hadn’t had had a proper chat with them about their roles? Without this they would have been frustrated at being on the bench and left years ago.
    It looks to me as if AVB left Lamps, Cole & Essien out to make a statement and demand respect. But I think it's clear to everyone that all 3 should have started. He should've found another way to get his point across.
    There is no way that Bosingwa, Meirles and Malouda were better options. Does anyone actually think they were??

    I also completely agree with all 29degEast's points, spot on. I can't understand how Torres started and finished so many matches while Drogba was away and not once did Sturridge or Lukaku get a chance at CF. Baffling.

  • Comment number 36.

    I Think to blame AVB rather than the team is just the easy way out. The chelsea hierarchy and fans need to accept that there team has been on the decline since the Ancelotti days.

    Abramovic hiring AVB for me was a sign of change, to instil a new philosophy and team into chelsea. And for me it was a good acquisition, as for any manager at 32 to do a quadrupole of trophies at Porto, which isnt an amazing team by any stretch of imagination, is an amazing achievement. AVB achieved success due to the fact that his players at porto trusted him and trusted each other to get the results. thats what his philosophy is built on belief, trust and unity, as if you have a united camp then you can concentrate solely on the football. at chelsea hes not getting that and i feel sorry for him as chelsea as a whole are still looking at the past to the mourinho days. yes playing defensive is effective up to the point where you have a good defensive unit but chelsea dont, so thats why avb is trying to shift the concentration on attack, hence the signings of mata, torres, meireles. at porto he played a fluid, passing game where the focus was on atack being the best form of defence, and this style is well proven for example barca play this and so does napoli. 2 amazing attacking teams. they both have defensive problems but its not highlighted because there attack is exceptional. i think the best thing to do is stay with avb and stick with his project as you cant keep on playing the old mourinho football, chelsea have to move on and so do the players, they have to accept this new challenge like they did when mourinho arrived and they have to take it head on, especially the older players, as for the moment sturridge and mata are the only 2 standouts and they are quite new acquisitions, which shows that avb tactics have promise, not to stick with mourinho's outdated tactics that dont even work at madrid, although they are top .

  • Comment number 37.

    if napoli are mediocre i hate to think what that makes the current chelsea team.

  • Comment number 38.

    I dont see the problem being the manager, but the players. The same players who got Scolari sacked are not playing for the manager, criticising tactics and training methods and generally provoking the poor run of form. Chelsea isnt going to get better while these players are given so much legroom to under perform and undermine any manager they dont like.

    Funnily enough these players are - mostly - into their last season or 2 of being able to perform at the highest level so - as a ManC fan - I hope the holder of the purse strings has FINALLY learned his lesson and will stick with the manager and realise that the dead wood is holding the club back, and get rid. If not well, he can always buy Tevez

  • Comment number 39.

    Most valid point in this blog:- AVB has way less than half the years on SAF!
    You can admire Abramovic for hiring AVB, but if he bails now he's done another huge cock-up for the club, and AVB will end up another out of work millionaire, how will the guys who save up their cash to make the game at Stamford bridge feel about that? You can't exactly see protests against the owner a la Venkys, but there must be grumbles. Still as long as he has the money "who are we to question and complain?"

  • Comment number 40.

    AVB has got my unreserved support. For showing courage by playing lampard as a sub.Despite the pressures and criticism from the press.I think members of the press are in self denial,lamps doznt deserve ist team footbal with his present form. It takes a good coach to stand his ground.I will be sad if he is sacked

  • Comment number 41.

    Please Please Please Sack AVB today.
    We need a manager not a techno speak coach.

    Lampard or AVB then its Lampard every day and every year.
    Please sack him before he does any more damage.

  • Comment number 42.

    DinShaba94 wrote:
    "thats what his philosophy is built on belief, trust and unity, as if you have a united camp then you can concentrate solely on the football"

    Isn't it the managers job to install that trust and unity and implement his "philosophy" which he talks so much about?!
    This chelsea camp has been all those things in the past under recent managers, the only exception being Scolari.
    Trust works both ways, and when the manager does not communicate with his players (as mentioned in my earlier post) coupled with his apparently random team selections, how can he acheive this trust?!

  • Comment number 43.

    Chelsea remind me of Bayern Munich in the sense of who decides what players come into the team, at times: both teams appear to have a coach rather than a manager. The difference is the nous at Bayern is the collective football nous of 3 football dragons on the executive positions in their board, while at Chelsea is Mr Abramovich.

    There have been plentiful hints that, at Chelsea, there is a group of players who have frequently done more than following the manager's instructions and applying them in matches. Great teams don't operate that way.

    I couldn't explain why Ancelotti got sacked last season. Besides AVB's failures, I also think it would be silly to sack him too. Chelsea have an obvious problem up front and it ain't AVB's doing. It's his inheritance. The other problem - defense - is his own fault but they surely knew that he likes a high, defensive line. Perhaps he should be allowed to create the back four and the support by defensive midfielders himself but it wasn't the case.

    The only sure thing is, if he's sacked, the creativity problems will not be solved and, had Chelsea kept their manager, it would be easy to get a Cavani-like or a Lavezzi-like player and see daylight up front.

    I understand the reasons for why Sturridge gets so much support by Chelsea fans but could he be the driving force to pull Chelsea forward in the big arenas of football? I doubt it. All I can see him as is an additional piece to the attacking threat puzzle.

  • Comment number 44.

    The 2 dynasties over the last 40 years, Liverpool (70-90) and United (90-) were both sustained for one reason.

    Players were/are not allowed to go past their sell by date, the team was/is evolved every year, one change here, one change there, its evolution not revolution.

    Tell me how many academy players are in the first team at Chelsea ?

    Tell me who is in charge at United ? Beckham, Stam, Van Nistelrooy, Keane...................... all stars, who won when they crossed Ferguson ?

    You create a foundation based on throwing the money about, you create a short term paradise, long term ? nothing. Chelsea are history.

  • Comment number 45.

    ANY MAN WHO LEAVES OUT A PLAYER WHO CAN SCORE 15 -20 GOALS A SEASON FROM MIDFIELD IS NOT A FOOTBALL MANAGER IN FACT I WOULD DOUBT HIS INSANITY.THE TEAM IS A SHAMBLES HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT HIS DOING,STANDING ON THE TOUCHLINE PRETENDING TO LOOK LIKE HIS IN CHARGE IT IS JOKE AND AS SPURS SUPPORTER I AM LOVING EVERY SECOND THE MAN IS AT THE CLUB.

  • Comment number 46.

    Didn't realise we had so many overseas people commenting on this subject, a humble request, please stop referring to the Premier League as the EPL, it won't take you that long to type Premier League.

  • Comment number 47.

    Some out of context thoughts concerning Liverpool?

    I enjoyed watching the skills of Lavezzi and Cavani in the Napoli v Chelsea fixture. At times, my mind went to Liverpool, paradoxically. It was because Lavezzi looked like an up-market version of Bellamy and Cavani has the Carroll height.

    Can you imagine a Liverpool line-up with Suarez, Cavani, Lavezzi as the danger line for the opposition? How many of this season's draws would have been wins?

    We could be even talking about Liverpool being title material again.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think people pointing the finger at AVB is looking in the wrong direction. He has so many players underperforming and I dont believe it is due to his misdirection.

    He should have cleared out many of the older players when he had the chance. Letting these players stay who think they are bigger than the manager has caused problems from the start. Drogba's alright but in his position you could have someone ten years younger scoring just as many goals with a future for the club. Then to turn round questioning manager's decisions...

    Lampard and Terry should have been offloaded as well.

    Its alright bringing a young manager with new ideas but how is he supposed to convince players who have been playing their way for 15 years at a top level? I hate to see it but sometimes you get the feeling when players want rid of a manager they play below standard until they get what they want.

    I dont think AVB has had a chance at Chelsea but to be honest I dont know who would. I've worked on a few of Abramovich's yachts over the last few years and the guy is completely football crazy watching matches from all over the world.

    This is the difference between him and other investment companies. There is normally no great love for the sport which is perhaps beneficial for the manager pushing his will through.

    For all of those calling for AVB to be sacked, do you think he's being allowed to do what he wants? You arent going to get rid of your owner so maybe you should just give the guy a chance

  • Comment number 49.

    The question shd b when will Abramovich learn this trade, chelsea would av had today if their future. had been invested in some yrs back rather than d instant success n d sacking of managers. To me AVB has a future only when he get to manage lads n not his mates. Chelsea has no policy, no football culture these they shd seek to build. We shd stop living in Mourinho's shadow, stop sit tight football and stop keeping pensioners on d pay roll ( Ferrera, Lamp, Malouda, Drogba, Cole, Bosingwa etc) we need player who can tell these ppl their time is up. Chelsea was once abt to be banned for buying a young player from france, where is d guy now? Abramovich shd stop buying player solely, buying a player instead of a team. Y not go trophyless n build a team wit attitude to win in d future.

  • Comment number 50.

    When you keep churning your managers you will never get a stable team.

  • Comment number 51.

    Let's face it, AVB is just a poor man's mourinho!

    He's got the chat but he can't back it up and he just ends up looking like an outspoken fool. He's making the cardinal sin of alienating chelsea's senior players and is trying to centre his team around average players and mata. Let's face it, players like luiz, cahill, romeu, mikel, malouda etc are not going to win you the league.

    I think Abramovich must be feeling rather sick that he petulantly sacked ancelotti last year and bent over backwards to try and sign mourinho M2. The gamble has backfired spectacularly!

    However as a man utd fan, I hope this embarrassment continues for another 2-3 seasons. Along with Arsenal and Liverpool stumbling along it is a pretty easy 3 horse race for the title.

  • Comment number 52.

    44.At 08:12 23rd Feb 2012, John

    So we need a manager as talented and respected as Paisley or Ferguson and top notch, PL ready youngsters coming through the youth system by the bucket load.
    Then Chelsea will be a long term sucess.
    Oh, and buy and sell players on a yearly basis.
    Simples. I'll give Roman a call. Thanks.

  • Comment number 53.

    How many of us watched Porto against Man City? Some say Porto of today plays AVB way, if that is what AVB is trying with Chelsea then I suspect he will have much success in EPL.

  • Comment number 54.

    As a neutral I will tell you Chelski fans one thing: AVB is your best asset.

    You have a team full of aging drek, Lampard, Terry and Cole... all need to go (your best player is Mata !!). Torres needs to go back to Spain and quick as he is obviously not happy in the EPL, and Abramovich clearly has no interest in football. He needs to sell up and clear off.

    If you fire AVB after one season or less then you will become a laughing stock !! No one will want to manage you !!

  • Comment number 55.

    53.At 09:08 23rd Feb 2012, 29degEast wrote:
    How many of us watched Porto against Man City? Some say Porto of today plays AVB way, if that is what AVB is trying with Chelsea then I suspect he will have much success in EPL.
    ____________

    To be fair they lost their key players and they looked a totally different prospect under AVB last season. The simple truth is that he should have stayed at Porto and built up his experience there.

    As someone else has pointed out, he's simply out of his depth in this role. If he would have taken it on in 4 years time, it would be a completely different chelsea.

  • Comment number 56.

    54.At 09:09 23rd Feb 2012, Bigly_Dee wrote:
    As a neutral I will tell you Chelski fans one thing: AVB is your best asset.

    You have a team full of aging drek, Lampard, Terry and Cole... all need to go (your best player is Mata !!). Torres needs to go back to Spain and quick as he is obviously not happy in the EPL, and Abramovich clearly has no interest in football. He needs to sell up and clear off.

    If you fire AVB after one season or less then you will become a laughing stock !! No one will want to manage you !!
    __________________

    "Abramovich has no interest in football. He needs to sell up"

    Yes, clearly Abramovich saw Chelsea as a great business venture, that's why he's put in approx £1bn of his personal fortune into the club, because he's not interested in football. Chelsea would be joining Rangers if he ever sold up!!

    "Sell drogba, lampard, terry, cole" - Yes, because the likes of lukaku, luiz, cahill, bosingwa etc look like adequate replacements. I suppose Fergie should have sold rio, giggs, scholes etc a long time ago!

    They fired Ancelotti, they fired mourinho, they fired Scolari. It would be a joke if AVB managed to keep his job. Inter have had more managers over the past 10 years than any other top team in Europe, funny that there are still plenty of managers interested.

  • Comment number 57.

    "How on earth Napoli even qualified shows the weakness of the Italian league at this time."

    3 teams in the last 16, Milan smashing Arsenal 4-0?? Not weak, just a changing philosophy in Italian football over the last few years towards more open, attacking football. Napoli are 5th in Serie A and it's no secret their defence is a bit suspect. But that front 3 are comparable to almost any club in world football at the moment, Cavani has been out of this world for the last 18 months.

  • Comment number 58.

    More worrying than any discension in the Chelsea camp or their poor performances is the linking of Rafia Basketcase (aka Benitez) to Chelsea. I'm slightly comforted by the knowledge that his people have tried to link him to every major vacancy since he was fired by Inter but if he comes to Chelsea I will cut up my season ticket.

    What ever the problems at Chelsea, Benitez is not the solution.

  • Comment number 59.

    @56 eduard_...whatever your name is...

    I never said sell Drogba... bad misquoting there.... but he could be included under the "aging drek" headline.

    Abramovich may have invested £1bn but it merely proves he has more money than sense... he would support the manager if he had a clue.....

    As for Giggs and Scholes.... well, they may have been the best of their generation but one wonders how well they would have done in a different team. I really don't care about Utd, or Inter for that matter.... It's Chelski who are in trouble. Just give AVB time, he might get you a Champion's League win !!

  • Comment number 60.

    Unfortunately, all roads lead to rom.......an. He is responsible for the hiring and firing of all your mangagers. His obsession with the champions league brings about the same sorry story every couple of years. Chelsea FC is a mere play-thing for him, albeit an expensive one.

    The appointment of AVB on the back of an excellent season with Porto, seemed like an attempt to nurture another 'mourinho', I suspect he hoped it would appeal to the supporters, a kind of ' new jose'.

  • Comment number 61.

    A manager ASKING for his Chairman's vote of confidence! What was he thinking?

    AVB clearly hasn't been told what getting that means in English football.

  • Comment number 62.

    59.At 09:29 23rd Feb 2012, Bigly_Dee wrote:
    ______________

    Ah apologies, I thought you included drogba in the "aging drek" category. Still, sell all your experienced players who are you left with? Luiz, cahill, meireles, malouda etc - these players are hardly going to win you the league!! Or the CL!!

    Why would he support a manager who has chelsea languishing in 4th spot??? Ancelotti won the league with practically the same team. Surely that shows the difference in ability between the two.

    "Just give AVB time, he might get you a Champion's League win !!" - Or he may get Chelsea to Liverpool's current status, battling it out with Newcastle for a Europa place and the "highlight" of the season being a Wembley appearance versus Cardiff having spent c.£100m.

  • Comment number 63.

    Haven't read the article as increasingly I find the text of the blogs on here a waste of time.

    The headline that drew me here was suggesting that Abramovich should publicly support AVB. I disagree with that.

    To do so would be so start to dance to the media tune, whatever AVB himself may have said (or, in fact merely inferred since I think he has been taken out of context here).

    If Abramovich came out now, he would be expected to comment every time there was a media clamour for it.

    In my opinion, AVB should stay at Chelsea and if there are players that don't like it, players that will need phasing out or replacing soon, then let them go.

    Let's build for the future.

    Oh, and media, find something of substance to write about. Your agenda's are rather tiring.

  • Comment number 64.

    and if one over-paid manager, should accidentally fall

    there'll be other overpaid managers, abramovich will call.

  • Comment number 65.

    I've become like a ferret caught in the headlights of a car bearing down at 150km/h, with seemingly no escape and everything happening at slow motion. Or another analogy; a ferret confronted by a Cobra, circling each other in a dance of death.
    All this is to explain my feelings about the state of affairs at Chelsea: Abramovich has turned into the boy who cried wolf, now nobody beliefs him, he has acted in the past with haste and interference in what is not his area of responsibility or expertise (the sacking of Jose Mourinho), now he's confronted with a dud of a coach with the worst performance record in an 8 year period of Chelsea's recent history. So what does he Abramovich do? I have never heard of the current situation in Chelsea, in any football club or such a statement from any manager in recent football history, consider it: AVB, when asked by journalist about the news coming out of the Chelsea camp of a bust up between senior players and AVB about his methods, he said yes there's disagreement about his methods, but there is only one person whose opinion is important and needs to believe in his methods and that is the owner Abramovich. Now I know in the past I've commented on his naivety, but this one takes the biscuit, I guess he's planning on taking to the field himself and play in 4 or 5 different positions all at once. When you also consider the fact that neither during last summer or during the January window has he brought in new players, players like Mata, Romeu and Lukaku were acquire by the Chelsea management, and AVB was just asked perfunctorily about the acquisitions, this was more evident with the acquisition of de Bruyne in January. So in my judgement the guy has no scouting network of his own, which is understandable considering that until recently he himself was a scout for Mourinho, but if not for the circumstances of the weak Portuguese league and the generosity of the loud mouth Porto president, he'll be crawling on his hands and knees begging Mourinho to take him back as a scout after their bust up. All of a sudden he's become a football coach prodigy. Well all I would say is you as good as your current performance. I don't have time for those who live on past glory whether young or old.

  • Comment number 66.

    Basically AVB tricked Abramovic in his job interview by acting like Mourinho, over emphasizing the importance and relevance of his quadruple with Porto and with flashy chat about building for the future, attacking football and philosophies.
    What he has actually done is alienate senior players, told the team to forget about defending and talked about philosophies.
    Also, I’m so, so sick of hearing JT, Lamps and Cole need to go. JT is without a doubt our best defender atm, Lamps definitely still has plenty to offer in the PL (maybe not 90mins every week, granted, but he can certainly do a job) and Cole(?!), well he was thought by many to be one of the best left backs in the world not all that long ago and at 31 is still probably one of the most physically fit players in the league.
    Perhaps in his first season in England AVB could have used the older player’s experience to his advantage rather than disregard them.
    I’m all for giving a manager time, but he has put himself into a corner and if we fail to finish in the top 4, he has to go. The fact that 4 managers have been sacked in 5 years does not mean Roman should stick with AVB regardless, in fact, it means the opposite.

  • Comment number 67.

    @62...

    Hehehehe..... am enjoying this !! Ancelotti had more experience.... plus the fact the team were younger than they are now, only by two years but it has an impact when you hit your 30s.... (my physiotherapist course taught me that).

    I watch a lot of Bundesliga. Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Borussia Dortmund, said after winning the title last season that he would be happy with at least 4th spot this season. The club owners agree. Asked why he said that he had a young squad who needed experience and that he wasn't going to kill them trying to win it again.... nor was he going to buy aging players in order to win back-to-back titles.

    AVB is bringing in new talent because he know that the present stars are getting older. He needs at least one season in charge to make an impact. Why can't you see this ??

  • Comment number 68.

    This whole blog makes me angry, comments and all.

    Ambramovich does not do press releases. He leaves those cheap, tacky gimmicks to tools like David Gold. Why on earth would he change his habit to appease the media, who have (yet again) blown this way out of proportion? The fact that you have dedicated an entire blog to an aside made in an interview just goes to show the poor state of the BBC, and journalism in general.

    Commentors on this blog who right Napoli off as mediocre just demonstrate the xenophobic ignorance that infests this entire country. Napoli have a squad on the same level as Arsenal or Liverpool. But because they are Italian national squad players rather than English, you just write them off as mediocre. Thats like writing Spurs off last season, because all they have are a few good English (and Welsh) national team players, and a few well known stars. It is borderline racist.

    This season was always going to be a rebuilding season. AVB is not just trying to replace players, he is trying to change the whole footballing philosophy of the club. Both of these things were made clear when he was hired, so Ambramovich clearly agrees with the three year plan AVB has. We are having fairly decent cup runs, and as long as we are still in the top four at the end of the season, he will be on track. Arsenal's annual swan dive is starting as we speak, in spectacular fashion, and Newcastle lack the quality to push above us into fourth. The only danger lies in a fragile Liverpool team - if they lose to Cardiff, fourth place is ours.

    While Im ranting, why is a player who won the Belgian Golden Boot at the age of 19 sitting on our bench? Torres has had his chance, Drogba should be playing with Lukaku and teaching him the ropes on the pitch, not just in training. Lukaku, Sturridge and Mata is a potent strikeforce for next season, if they are blooded and molded together in what is left of this season.

  • Comment number 69.

    I guess we all knew this was coming all along. Truly successful clubs are built over a long period of time with long term plans. The fact that an immensely wealthy guy buys a club and buys the best talent does not mean the club is now successful. It requires a long-term plan to make a club succeed consistently.
    The truth of the matter is that a manager should be the boss in a club. The owner and the board should only intervene in emergencies. This is sensible because when a club fails, it is the manager that is blamed for poor results.
    There was nothing wrong with Claudio Ranieri or Avram Grant or Jose Mourinho - all these are top managers. The problem then, as it is now, is that the owner (read Roman Abramovich) was (as he still is) impatient with the managers and wants immediate results.
    Imagine if Sir Alex had been sacked in the second or third season at United? I bet United would be a mid-table team which would not have won as many trophies as it has.
    Every good manager has a philosophy to winning. This philosophy does no good if it remains with the manager alone; it should be instil on the players and this takes time. When several generations of players have bought the philosophy, it becomes the philosophy of the club - and that is why some clubs are said to have a winning mentality!
    AVB you are the victim today. Mancini may be the next one...

  • Comment number 70.

    @68...

    Excellent points made !!

  • Comment number 71.

    @28

    "AVB is totally underperforming. He could have bought Silva AND Aguero for the price of Torres - he chose not to."


    Errr he didnt buy Torres


    @29

    "They need to start giving a manager time like Liverpool and Utd have done over the years instead of keeping the revolving door policy."


    Liverpool have no right to EVER say "Give a manager time" after what happened with RH at Anfield.

  • Comment number 72.

    But my point is that if you're going to sack a coach of Ancelotti's calibre for a 3rd placed finish, how on earth can you justify keeping on to a coach that has Chelsea in 4th, and they could slip to 7th!

    I'm sure that 2 years can be a big change, but that's a pretty weak excuse as to why the likes of drogba, lamps, terry, cole are not firing on all cylinders! What does it suggest? After you turn 30 your body clock turns so you can't perform at all? Peak fitness and strength for human males is around the 27-32 age mark.

    Well if you want to compare your side to Dortmund then that's fine by me. I had thought people considered Chelsea as a "big club". Would Abramovich agree if AVB came out and said he'd be happy with 4th? Would the fans?

    Hey I'm all for AVB getting a chance, makes Utd's job easier of retaining / winning the league. I just don't agree that he should be given a chance when more experienced and talented coaches have been given far worse treatment. Why is AVB different? Are players like cahill & david luiz going to win you the league or stop the world's best attackers?

  • Comment number 73.

    What I don't like when Manager's are under pressure is newspapers comming out with dead man walking or so and so has only 3 games to save his job.In press conferences they keep asking the same questions do you think you will still be at Chelsea after this match.Roman A loves his football he wants success for Chelsea like we all do take away all his money he still has emotions excitement that all football fans possess.Since Glenn Hoddle became Chelsea Manager the football played more often than not has been highly watchable furthermore we have won Premierships and Cups and any of our Managers recently could have ended up as our National Manager ie Scholari,Hiddink Ancelotti.Don't get me onto Capello.AVB was RA and the Board's choice they obviously liked what they saw,the time to judge him is at the end of the Season.I actually believe his job is as big as the England job.In my view there are always reasons for getting rid of Managers not always given to the fans i don't know why?Take Mourinho what would you give him for Public Relations although as a football man he has excelled!Ancelotti won Chelsea the double but was found out tactically in European Competition especially against Inter Milan the one competition that has eluded RA.AVB is fresh intelligent and enthusiastic with new ideas we really should give him time!I hear now even Raffa is bubbling underneath the surface. At the moment Chelsea are still in Europe in the FA Cup and challenging in the League we are wobbling but remain above water for now!

  • Comment number 74.

    If Napoli are ''average'', then that doesn't say much about the English league, considering they've already knocked out the best team in the EPL, and are half way towards knocking out the 4th-placed team. :smirkssmugly:

  • Comment number 75.

    @72

    As a fan, I am happy with 4th THIS SEASON. I would have taken 4th at the start of the season. As it has been said repeatedly, AVB was hired to take the club through a three year plan, with the squad back to title winning ways at the end of the 3rd year. Ancelotti was sacked because the club did not believe he was the right person to undertake this rebuilding phase.

    Peak fitness is indeed 27-32, but after that age your fitness deteriorates rapidly. Drogba, Lampard, Terry and Cole need replacing. They might not need replacing right now, but we need potential replacements in the club, molded into the team, and playing well before the 'old guard' are moved on.

    This movement between the old guard and the new generation is not going as smoothly as we would have hoped. Torres is being crushed by the pressure, and underachieving. Luiz is trying to prove himself to the over critical media, and in the process has given away a string of careless penalties - although he has improved lately. Cahill was brought in as a squad player on a squad player fee - he might develop into the next Terry, but he is not there yet.

    Lukaku has the potential and the goals under his belt to replace Drogba, Sturridge and Mata are doing a fine job supporting the main striker, whether it is Torres or Drogba. Ramires has developed greatly over the last 18 months, and before his injury was starting to control midfields with his sheer workrate.

    Mikel is useless, Malouda doesn't care anymore, Kalou is a misture of the two. Merieles (spelling?) was a bad move, a backward step, in the same way buying Charlie Adam was a backward step for Liverpool. The squad does need refreshing, but the media chooses to focus on the big names, not the members of the old squad who are contributing nothing. The first three will all be out in the summer.

  • Comment number 76.

    This Chelsea team has been winning matches and trophies in the past. This same team and this same group of players. Suddenly a fool is appointed and they can't even win against lowly opposition anymore.

    It should be clear to any thinking person who / what the problem. People like to go on about players ageing - but that is lazy and lacks deep thought. AC Milan and Manchester United have far older players. What they also have and what Chelsea lack is someone at the helm good enough to blend the old and the young. The new and the existing to form a winning partnership. Players do age but their performance does not ever decline that dramatically.

    Pray how many players are you going to get rid of? Sack the entire team just because the manager is still learning his trade? Now that's really clever.

  • Comment number 77.

    #72 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Quite simply, you're not comparing like with like.

    And ignoring that, there is the pragmatic view to take as well. Chelsea will buy new players, as clubs do, this summer and they have a number of new'ish players who have not been at the club very long. So, do you fire AVB and start all over, and have this same conversation in 12 months time if any new manager has problems as well, or do you let AVB continue with the transition?

    Next season:-

    Cech
    RB? - Cahill - Terry - Bertrand
    Romeu
    Essien - Mceachran/Ramires
    RW? - Sturridge - Mata

    Bench
    Courtois
    Ivanovic
    Cole
    Lampard
    Lukaku

  • Comment number 78.

    The problems at Chelsea are obvious: too many over-the-hill plodders (Terry, Lampard, Cole), and sub-standard younger players (Sturridge, Cahill).

    You can't blame Villas-Boas for not doing much with this shoddy squad. Even Pep would struggle with that mob.

  • Comment number 79.

    28.At 04:44 23rd Feb 2012, jonahmona wrote:


    AVB is totally underperforming. He could have bought Silva AND Aguero for the price of Torres - he chose not to.

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

    My god, what a ridiculous post!

    Firstly Torres was bought 6 months before AVB was appointed, so to blame him for signing Torres is slightly harsh to say the least!

    And then to claim that he could have bought Silva and Aguero for the price of Torres is ridiculous when Torres cost £50m, but Silva cost £30m and Aguero £38m = £68m. £68m is not the same as £50m

    And how could he have bought Silva too bearing in mind he'd been at Man City for over a year before AVB was appointed.

    Quite the fantasy land you live in!

  • Comment number 80.

    I think the criticism levelled at AVB is, at times, over the top. He's a young manager with an awful lot to prove, he's inherited the worst Chelsea team since Abramovich took over and seems to be getting very little by way of public support from the his Chairman.

    The least i would expect in times of trouble would be a brief statement from Abramovich clearly backing his manager and the "project" they both agreed upon back in the summer. This might buy AVB a bit of respite, if not from the fans, then at least from some of the senior players. It would show them that the bloke who signs the cheques actually believes and trusts in what their manager is trying to achieve.

    When Mourinho took over many moons ago he was backed to the fullest extent by RA in the transfer market. He was allowed to spend huge levels of cash on mediocre players such as Paulo Ferreira, along with some of the more succesful signings of course. AVB has not been afforded any such thing. Granted, he was given some funds to bolster the squad in the form of Mereilles (spl?), Cahill etc but they were hardly going to provide re-freshed look and feel to a stagnant squad.

    The one thing AVB is guilty of more than any other is taking the Chelsea job at the wrong time. Had he continued to be succesful at Porto he would have built more of a reputation for himself, perhaps buying himself more time with the senior players, fans and media. As it is many people are now using his age and lack of top flight experience as a primary reason for his side's failure to compete for honours.

    He inherited a side with ageing players such John Terry, Frank Lampard, Drogba and Anelka along with mediocre or unproven talent brought in by his predecessors like Kalou, Malouda, Mikel, Ramires, Luiz and Boswinga. There is no conveyor belt of youth players to turn to either, McEachran looks like a player for the future but due to a lack of playing time under previous managers he was never going to be ready for any meaningful part this year. Likewise Lukaku, despite his size, power and pedigree in the Belgian top flight he was unlikely to hit the ground running especially when you factor in THE worst signing in Premiership history; Fernando Torres.

    Had the £50m been spent or saved for a rainy day then i'm sure we'd be looking at a different situation at Chelsea now. Drogba would bbe playing regularly rather than been overlooked for this £50m nervous wreck of a player and AVB may have been able to window shop in the most expensive areas of the footballing market rather than the bargain basement. Hulk, Moutinho and Falcao were all players linked with Chelsea when AVB took over but they quickly became priced out of the market. Something that was unheard of in the days of Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant or Ancelotti.

    I hope Chelsea stick with him, he's a young and talented manager that has a positive way of playing the game. If given time and resources to develop and mould the team in his manner i think Chelsea could be top team once more. Unfortunately the way in which Abramovich goes about his business i'd be surprised if he started next season in the dugout.

    It could be worse Chelsea fans, you could be Arsenal fans!

  • Comment number 81.

    The press are the people who actually create the level of pressure which a manager is under, with their constant stirring.

    They are like a committee of vultures, hovering around the carcass of a slain wildebeest.

  • Comment number 82.

    I would liken what is happening at Chelsea now to what we saw happen at Liverpool post the initial Dalglish era. Liverpool had an incredibly talented and successful squad for a number of years, which all matured at the same time and replacements weren't either found quick enough, given enough time to bed in or were simply not up to the standards that had been set previously.

    In terms of their recent success at that point, it could be suggested that Liverpool went 'into decline', and this is the same argument that is being posed about Chelsea. I feel sorry for AVB; he clearly has a huge job of managing this transitional period of moving away from that successful side to a more younger and equally successful team.

    He has been unfortunate in that his captain has been the centre of a media circus all season, and some of his team selections may be questioned, however, the guy needs to be given the opportunity to finish what he has started, and also, be given the autonomy to make the decisions... no more 'gifts' of centre forwards from the owner as previous managers have had to accept please.

    http://thethoughtsofphil.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 83.

    52.At 09:05 23rd Feb 2012, Didier_Lampard wrote:
    44.At 08:12 23rd Feb 2012, John

    So we need a manager as talented and respected as Paisley or Ferguson and top notch, PL ready youngsters coming through the youth system by the bucket load.
    Then Chelsea will be a long term sucess.
    Oh, and buy and sell players on a yearly basis.
    Simples. I'll give Roman a call. Thanks.

    How many European Cups/champions Leagues have the North won ? London ?

    How many league titles has the North won in the last 40 years ? London ?

    Your comments perfectly explain why there is the discrepancy.

    Short termism

    if your abundant youth academy was producing, the 30+ year olds in the squad would be turned over and replaced. They are not.

    If you did not sack a manager on a whim, you might get some stability.

    I am not defending AVB, the point is WHOEVER the manager is at Chelsea, they have to put out the fire first and then build, and build from bottom up. If your house goes up in smoke, do you concentrate on building the gold roof first ? That is what Chelsea do. Lets splash the cash.

    Abramovich wants the Champions League, we are told, well look at Barcelona, their FIRST European Cup was in 1992 YES as recent as 1992. 20 years down the line, look at them.

    Continue to look short term, and demand instant success, and continue to be laughed at as the next"project" goes up in smoke

    Thats your problem.

  • Comment number 84.

    AVB should listen to his elders!
















    and do what John Terry, Frank Lampard, Drogba and Anelka tell him :D

  • Comment number 85.

    Abromovich's needs to stick with AVB for this season, but, I dont think its going to happen. The 'old guard' at Chelski definitely needs to be addressed, maybe not so drastic as AVB has done so far though, it needs to be done gradually to maintain success.

    To say that Napoli are mediocre is a bit daft too. How can any side containing that front 3 be mediocre. They are sipmly poor in defence, great in attack. It all rests on how Chelski defend at the Bridge as to the outcome of the tie. Personally I think Napoli will go through, cause with Cahill in defence there will be goals galore for Lavezzi, Hamsik and Cavani.

    End result, so long AVB, thanks (or no thanks) for coming.

  • Comment number 86.

    soul patch I completely agree that Pep would struggle with Chelseas current squad...then again he would struggle with most squads where he didn't have 3-4 of the best players in the world and the 2nd highest budget in his league!

  • Comment number 87.

    86. At 10:34 23rd Feb 2012, Thrashball wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, behave yourself!

    I wonder why, under Rijkaard, these ''3-4 best players in the world'' finished behind Villarreal in La Liga and ignominiously lost to Manchester United (Barça's perennial whipping-boys) in the Champions League? :rollseyes: and :shrugsshoulders:

  • Comment number 88.

    Essex student
    @68
    Commentors on this blog who right Napoli off as mediocre just demonstrate the xenophobic ignorance that infests this entire country. Napoli have a squad on the same level as Arsenal or Liverpool. But because they are Italian national squad players rather than English, you just write them off as mediocre. Thats like writing Spurs off last season, because all they have are a few good English (and Welsh) national team players, and a few well known stars. It is borderline racist.

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

    A couple of posters used the word mediocre, probably the wrong word as I pointed out earlier. But Napoli are distinctly average for a CL group qualifying team.

    You obviously have not seen enough Champions League football to know the difference between good, great or just plain average teams.

    The defence could not get any slower, if they stopped. There is a lack of cohesion between defence and midfield, Going forward, yes they look fair and look as if there are goals in them. BUT BUT BUT any side who was average and played to the same level would have beaten Chelsea on Tuesday night.

    Napoli's European form does not entitle them to be anything but average. Take Milan as a yardstick, they are an above average team. Yet even Milan were made to look better than what they really are against Arsenal. They game showed that if any opposition did not perform then Milan would punish them.

    You mentioned Liverpool and compared them to Napoli, I gaurantee the one thing LFC would not do against a team like Napoli, is cave in because Liverpool can defend.

    Where you get the racist angle from, I do not know but sadly you are one of a growing generation of people who use a word without any understanding or knowledge of it's meaning.

  • Comment number 89.

    It must be nice living in your world patchy!

  • Comment number 90.

    89. At 10:50 23rd Feb 2012, Thrashball wrote:

    It must be nice living in your world patchy!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Believe you me, it's fantastic!

  • Comment number 91.

    Meals made for you three times a day, tea and coffee on request. All the Sky channels and every other games machine.

    In fact the only downside is the electroshock therapy

  • Comment number 92.

    90 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Well, it is said that ignorance is bliss. ;-)

  • Comment number 93.

    soul patch
    @81
    The press are the people who actually create the level of pressure which a manager is under, with their constant stirring.
    They are like a committee of vultures, hovering around the carcass of a slain wildebeest.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It's far too easy to blame the press.

    First, AVB created the criticism with his inability to understand whilst building or creating a different style of playing, he also has to ensure the team is hard to beat. It's a results driven business, somehow he forgot that.

    Second, using the term pressure, I'd say at your beloved Barca, the pressure on Pep is even greater than anything AVB experiences. Failure for Barca is a disaster, for Chelsea they have never known CL league success so nothing was expected. If it was then I'd say the people who did expect it were deluding themselves.

    I wonder how Messi and Ronny cope, knowing the world is watching and expecting brilliance everytime they play. Maybe it is because some people have the talent required to start with.

    AVB has shown he can manage a team elsewhere with success, since arriving at Chelsea, he has shown an inability with a lack of understanding of what is required of him in a completely different environment.

  • Comment number 94.

    If Malouda worked anywhere else he would be sacked. His commitment is appalling. Ivanovic is obviously lacking a football brain as is Bosingwa, Ramirez and Meireles are not strong enough physically, Sturridge might have quick feet but he's very wasteful. AVB wants to play a certain way but he hasn't got the players do do it. He needs intelligent, dynamic and courageous players. They're all to blame and the club seems to have lots of directors of this and directors of that, what's all that about. Shambles all round.

  • Comment number 95.

    Maybe AVB has bitten off more than he can chew. But supposedly he was brought in to overhaul a squad that had become bloated with egos and pride.

    Had it been possible, he should have waved goodbye to the likes of Lampard, Terry, Cole and Drogba straight off, but the rest of the squad isn't strong enough to cope with their departure, and there was no obvious chequebook wafting around.

    But in fairness, you have to understand the problem before you can fix it, and this season is about that (while still qualifying for the CL - else you'll never attract the players you want).

    It would be silly to get rid of a manager, when players aren't delivering. But can you trust a manager who makes some strange selections? He had to drop the "big guns" to the bench, especially if the rumours of a bust up with the ever popular Cashley are true.

    Fresh blood on the playing staff is needed, to match the fresh thinking of the boss. But if AVB really requires Roman's verbal support, he may not be the man the boss thought he was.

  • Comment number 96.

    There is nothing xenophobic about referring to Napoli as "an average side", they are perfectly average by both European and their own domestic standards. Indeed, many teams in the Champions League could be regarded as merely average.

    I don't believe there are more than a handful of teams in European football that are truly outstanding sides. Even those that are outstanding are still playing below the level of Barcelona and Real Madrid, it's not xenophobic or "borderline racist" it's simply the facts.

    The results of the last round of Champions League matches has shown that a certain element of balance is re-emerging in European football. Teams like Basle, Marseille and Napoli are not, in any way shape or form, great footballing sides. They do however have clear game plans and perhaps one or two players destined to play at a higher level. When alligned to good tactical decisions and implementation of their aforementioned game plans they can get results. Just look at Basle last night, very few would count them as a very good side, they have one or two players in Strellar and Frei that are of Champions League quality and a couple of gifted youngsters like Shaqiri but in all honesty they should never have beaten what is, on paper at least, a vastly superior Bayern side.

    The beauty of football is that upset can and do happen on a regular basis. But over a sustained period of time the best footballing sides will normally win through. Basle and Napoli have had good runs but i would expect Chelsea and Bayern to progress with home legs coming up. A 2-0 win should not be beyond either in front of their own fans.

    Ultimately it doesn't really matter as no teams in the competition looked fully equipped to stop either Real or Barcelona cantering to becoming European Champions once more.

  • Comment number 97.

    92. At 10:57 23rd Feb 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Well, it is said that ignorance is bliss. ;-)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd expect a Chelsea fan to understand that sentiment only too well. :p

  • Comment number 98.

    93. At 10:59 23rd Feb 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's easy to blame the press, because they are the ones who make a living out of stirring the pot and making mountains out of molehills.

    If the media didn't go out of their way to undermine managers for a ''story'', then Villas-Boas wouldn't be under half the pressure that he is. Yes, there'd be discontent from Chelsea fans, and observations of ''he's not doing too well, at the moment'' from neutrals, but the media fixation with the supposed ''hire and fire'' policy of Abramovich becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    As for Pep ''El G.O.A.T'' Guardiola. Yes, he's under pressure at Barcelona, but he doesn't have to field a plethora of inane questions from journos about his job security at every press conference!

  • Comment number 99.

    75.At 10:17 23rd Feb 2012, EssexStudent wrote:
    -___________

    Hmmmmm the Board didn't believe that Ancelotti would be able to rebuild the squad? That's very much a moot point I think! I'd argue that Ancelotti is far better placed at building a squad, keeping older players play at their peak, whilst nurturing talented youngsters (look at milan as a case study).

    With regards to fitness & older players, refer you back to the milan case study, and man utd.

    I take your points about Lukaku & luiz being new, but ancelotti got more out of the players like ivanovic, bosingwa, malouda, mikel etc. It's a pretty poor excuse to say AVB has not got the right players or he hasn't had the chance to bring the right ones in. A good manager is able to get something out of any player, not just pick and choose. Obviously they bring in favoured players over time, but look at O'Neill, and the change in the way the team plays and he hasn't bought or sold anyone!

  • Comment number 100.

    One thing is keeping AVB in the job, qualyfying for champs league in the Premiership, he must get Chelsea to fourth and he's safe. I would imagine Abramovich with the move he was making employing this manager with the changes he would make would recind all other matters because he would know they wold be near on impossible in a transitional period to achieve.

    I would imagine the mandate for AVB was something like: refresh the squad get the players out you don't want but you must make at least fourth spot.

 

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