Villas-Boas needs time to rebuild
Andre Villas-Boas will have Roman Abramovich's millions at his disposal to cement his reputation at European coaching's rising star - but the new Chelsea manager's most precious commodity at Stamford Bridge may be something even the Russian cannot buy.
Villas-Boas has been handed a three-year contract by the Premier League club and given the traditional mission of every Blues manager - to fulfil Abramovich's fantasy of winning the Champions League.
And the 33-year-old Portuguese will know that the shelf life of Abramovich's chosen ones shortens considerably if they fail to deliver the owner's required silverware.
Jose Mourinho's list of successes meant he lasted almost the equivalent of a lifetime under Abramovich, ending up at Stamford Bridge for more than three years.
But World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari was out after seven months and Carlo Ancelotti was sacked after a single season without a trophy only 12 months after winning the domestic double.
Abramovich's patience is notoriously short but, having invested more than £13m to prise his latest manager out of Porto, even he may now accept the wisdom of stability and give his surprise choice to succeed Ancelotti years rather than months to make his impact.
Villas-Boas has been a big success during his short career. Photo: AP
At just 33, the same age as new charges Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, Villas-Boas will also need to exert his authority on a group of Chelsea players who have aged together and may need convincing of the pedigree of Abramovich's latest incumbent.
Villas-Boas, however, is not short of the confidence and self-belief required to survive the Abramovich regime. This is the man who, at just 16, glided a note under the door of then Porto coach Sir Bobby Robson criticising him for leaving out striker Domingos Paciencia. When asked by the great man to justify his claims, the teenager did so by way of meticulous statistics.
It is this attention to detail that resulted in him serving time under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, assessing opponents and providing DVDs to ensure no nasty shocks lay in store for Chelsea's squad.
The difference now is that Villas-Boas may now need to show some of those same players the door rather than a DVD.
Former Chelsea and Scotland winger Pat Nevin told me: "Everybody knows that this is a really interesting time for a coach to come to the club. A number of players are at a certain age and they can't go on forever.
"Villas-Boas faces a choice between trying to get the best out of the players or re-adapting the side."
The arrival of Fernando Torres at Chelsea has already led to speculation about the future of Drogba, who has been the centrepiece of Chelsea's game plan since he arrived under Mourinho. Porto's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is being heavily linked to join Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge.
"Chelsea have always been a power team that plays through Drogba but Villas-Boas plays with width, using Hulk out on the right-hand side, Joao Moutinho as a fine creative player and Falcao as the old-fashioned goalscorer in the Ian Rush mould," said Nevin.
"Falcao has already been mentioned for Chelsea. He gets himself in the right positions and you can bet your life he will score goals if he plays in a good team that creates chances.
"Whether that works with Torres, who knows? But I would think Villa-Boas' style is directed more towards a Torres than a Drogba."
Drogba's next move will be seen as a sign of the future under Villas-Boas. And, barring a disastrous reign, the Portuguese will almost certainly be the manager to call time on the Chelsea careers of men like Lampard and captain John Terry as the club moves into a new era.
Villas-Boas must also find the formula to fire up Torres, who looked a lost soul after arriving from Liverpool in a British record £50m deal in January. As a purchase seemingly driven by Abramovich as opposed to Ancelotti, it is highly likely Villas-Boas has already been made aware of the Spaniard's place in his and Chelsea's future.
Villas-Boas must make important decisions about Drogba and Torres. Photo: PA
Whatever decisions Villas-Boas makes with regard to Chelsea's established order, they are likely to shape the success of his reign. And given he appears to be a young coach in a hurry, the suggestions are he will not waste time reaching his conclusions.
"This has been the best and most successful Chelsea team there has been but it can't last forever," said Nevin. "If you look at the successes of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United or when Liverpool were so successful, they didn't rebuild teams by getting a job lot of players in at once and kicking a job lot out.
"It can work but more often than not it won't and Villas-Boas will probably make his changes slowly but surely. There might be a couple of big players in during this transfer window and maybe a couple more in January.
"As I said, this Chelsea team cannot last forever and change will have to come. It is a transformation other coaches maybe felt they needed to make but they weren't there long enough to be able to do it."
Villas-Boas at least has knowledge of Chelsea's inner workings and a passing acquaintance of the culture that has built up at the club. Now he must decide the scale and speed of change.
Nevin is excited by the arrival of this fresh face at Stamford Bridge. "I think you can divide Chelsea fans into two groups," he said: "There are the ones who have been around seven or eight years and the ones like me who have been around a hell of a lot longer.
"The more recent ones want success yesterday and the ones who have been around a lot longer accept it takes time to build and that no club has a divine right to win trophies. I think the ones who are a bit older will be more excited by this appointment than the other group.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how Villas-Boas does. I was impressed with him when I saw his team last season. The one thing that stood out was that he was clearly a personality who wants to win - and I suggest that is a very good start."