Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is out to find his ninth manager in just eight years following his decision to axe Andre Villas-Boas just 265 days after luring him from FC Porto.
The typically rash decision came less than 24 hours after Chelsea suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of West Bromwich Albion. The loss was exacerbated with Arsenal beating Liverpool, leaving Chelsea three points out of the Premier League top four.
A statement released yesterday by Chelsea pronounced that ‘the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.’
Although Chelsea has won only one of its past six matches, Villas-Boas appears to be nothing more than a scapegoat for Abramovich, a reason behind his teams’ lack of consistency and current poor run-of-form.
Abramovich began his project for change and paid Porto £13.3 million ($19.6 million) to release Villas-Boas in June and now with eleven games left in the season and a spot in the Champions League possibly slipping away, Abramovich has panicked. He placed all the blame solely on Villas-Boas, ignoring other areas of the club, which need improvement.
Take Chelsea’s transfer dealings for example; it was not Villas-Boas’ decision to pay £50 million for the under-performing Fernando Torres, yet it was he who had his eye on Chelsea’s most prolific signing over the past year, Juan Mata.
Daniel Sturridge has flourished this season, mainly due to the confidence Villas-Boas has shown in him. Sturridge has been in career best form since Villas-Boas moved him to the right wing. Sturridge admitted that his manager had played a big role in helping him receive an English cap.
“I’ve not had a Chelsea manager do that for me before. It’s helped me so much,” Sturridge told The Independent just four days ago.
But these positives somehow managed to slip Abramovich’s thought process as he continues to strive for a ‘quick-fix’ to his team.
He hires managers’ and it seems as if he expects immediate perfection.
Even Carlo Ancelotti who led Chelsea to Premier League and FA Cup success in 2010 lost his job as manager after finishing third the following season.
He has ostensibly created a club in which no manager can last.
Villas-Boas’ assistant, Roberto Di Matteo, who has been named interim coach until the seasons end will be in control of Chelsea for the first-time when they take on Birmingham City in Wednesday morning’s FA Cup fifth-round replay.
The pressure will be on Di Matteo immediately when Chelsea faces Napoli the following week in the second leg of their round-of-16 Champions League clash which resumes with Napoli leading 3-1.
The challenge for Abramovich at the seasons end is to try and find a replacement who could possibly live up to his seemingly insurmountable expectations.
The two main candidates for the job are believed to be Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and the unemployed Rafael Benitez.
Mourinho who was already expected to be making a return to English football next year, after constant mention of his respect for the league and after he was spotted house hunting in London last week, is the most likely to take over the reigns for the 2012/13 Premier League season.
Mourinho is believed to be unhappy in Spain, and if Abramovich will pay-up there is no reason as to why he would not return to Stamford Bridge perhaps to rectify the way he and the club went their separate ways, due to a pay dispute.
Second favourite to take-over, Benitez, has the credentials for the job, with an excellent record, having won the Uefa Cup with Valencia and European Cup with Liverpool. He may also be the man to get the best out of Fernando Torres, who played his best football under him at Liverpool.
However Benitez is not an attacking coach and Abramovich wants Chelsea to play attacking football.
Other candidates for the job include, Pep Guardiola from Barcelona and Fabio Capello who is unemployed but has won league titles with Real Madrid, Roma, Juventus and Milan over his time. These two men however are only an outside chance to be at Chelsea later this year.
Whoever Abramovich selects as the man to take control of his first-team will have to be ready for sleepless nights as a result of a lack of job security. Perhaps the answer is for Abramovich to persist with one manager and show faith, rather than backing them into a corner and pointing the finger at them.