Not long after West Brom scored the goal that turned out to be the winner, the Baggies fans started singing “sacked in the morning” to Villas Boas…..and at least half of the Chelsea fans joined in – that was the moment when the Chelsea manager lost his job.
Season ticket renewals are looming large on the horizon and with the supporters now openly rebellious – I think the board hit the panic button
Leaving Di Matteo in charge tells its own story. He was obviously not an AVB choice and as such, one has to ponder what actual use he was to the manager in the first place. Can he improve anything from now until the end of the season? I’d imagine the West Brom fans would probably tell you not – the announcement of his return to the Hawthorns was booed by a good proportion of the home crowd. The grapevine says that he wasn’t too popular with the players either.
The one positive regarding the announcement that he will be in charge until the end of the season is that it would suggest that the man they want (if they have identified him) is currently working elsewhere – which should hopefully rule out Rafa Benitez. Should we continue to be linked with him I imagine the supporters will make their feelings very clear at the forthcoming games.
Speaking of the supporters – they seemed to be split on whether this was the right move at the right time in the season. Some lay the blame of our current malaise squarely at the feet of Villas Boas. Others have opted for that good old favourite “player power”, yet others are advocating “sacking the board” and of course the owner doesn’t escape unscathed.
The fact is that all of the above have played a part in our current predicament. To go through each and every protagonist in this farce would take far more than the 800 or so words that I am permitted but the main points are these as I see them.
If you are charging a manger with the task of a complete re-build of a squad, both in terms of playing style and personnel why entrust a virtual novice? Common sense surely dictates a man of experience and gravitas?
Whoever you hold responsible for the current state of affairs – Villas Boas did himself no favours – again I don’t have the time to go into all the mistakes he made, because there were so many. But most significant of all was alienating the players. The shoddy treatment of Alex and Anelka would have riled the majority – and it was so unnecessary. The less than measured interviews to the press were not helpful either. The stubbornness when it came to learning from constant tactical errors was certainly one that riled me. The virtual contempt shown to our youth players was another – the list could go on and on.
A man of experience would have engaged with the powerful players of the club to cement his own position – got them on side. There are ways and means – and this is where his inexperience showed. It seems to me that he tried to establish his credentials by an Alex Ferguson type iron fist approach – Old Red Nose is able to extol his hard-line because he has earned the right to it – Villas Boas needs to learn that.
All that said, the players don’t come out of this too well either. Only they will know whether the appalling performances were due to a complete lack of understanding of what the manager was trying to put across, coupled with a natural deterioration due to an aging backbone & a weak squad – or whether, as many believe, they were simply going through the motions to try and get an unpopular manager out the club.
There are many left more than a little grubby after this whole tawdry affair.
Personally, I think the board too should not be sitting too comfortable in their executive chairs tonight. They chose Villas-Boas knowing full well what his limitations were going to be. I’d imagine he gave them a detailed plan on how he was going to over-haul the team and fulfil Abramovich’s tough criteria – but he was going to need their full backing to realise his “project” – yet what did they do? Not much.
The squad is the smallest and the weakest than I can remember for a long time. We once again failed to land the players that we so publicly pursued in the summer. There is little evidence of them aiding the manager with his “personnel issues”. They did little to protect him from a baying press.
Villas-Boas will emerge from his time at Stamford Bridge battered & bruised but a wiser man and the lessons he learnt will be to the great benefit of his next club. I think he honestly believed in the project – almost too much. He had let it take over every other aspect of the job.
The usual suspects will be rolled out for the vacant position, although many must be now asking themselves whether this really is an impossible role to even attempt. That said, the more than generous severance pay will keep every Tom, Dick, Harry and Sven beating a path to our door.
This could be the most important period in the club’s history for a good decade or so. Will we somehow snatch a Champions League place or will we drop further into the ignominy of the Premier league also-rans? Place your bets – whichever way it goes, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Win or lose – up the blues!