Abramovich Had Put An End To AVB's Misery


Andre Villas-Boas is a young manager who cost Chelsea FC a lot of money. Like Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti before him, he was sacked very quickly. Between Chelsea's recent managerial carousel, Villas-Boas' youth and the expense of both hiring him and firing Ancelotti, many will see his sacking as an impatient knee-jerk decision.

This might be the case. It's quite possible that bad luck and a squad that isn't good enough have quite a bit more to do with Chelsea's struggles than any manager, but there's no denying that their position is a bad one. Despite their high expectations and extensive spending, they are in fifth place. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, despite much lower levels of net spending in recent years, are ahead of Chelsea with most of the season gone. Villas-Boas' record was very poor, money aside, he didn't do much to earn the right to stay in his job.

Villas-Boas came with impeccable credentials, but his reign went downhill early on and never really got any better. Losses to Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, and most recently West Bromwich Albion made the situation completely untenable, and he becomes the latest victim of the axeman. This will be portrayed as yet another move in the Chelsea managerial carousel, and whether or not that's fair is a matter of some debate. What isn't is his record with the Blues - Villas-Boas, having breezed to a triple in Portugal with Porto last season, has made a right meal with it in the Premier League, leaving the club in worse position that the reviled Felipe Scolari.

Nine months ago, we were convinced that Villas-Boas was the right man for the job. His tactical acumen was beyond dispute, his players loved him, and he'd worked with Chelsea before. We were probably wrong. Roberto Di Matteo will take over for the rest of the season, and Roman Abramovich can only hope that he does a better job of motivating his players to play to the best of their abilities than Villas-Boas did.

Chelsea and Abramovich will be thrilled that the upcoming UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations just require clubs to make progress towards breaking even in the early years of its existence. Over the past year, Chelsea has spent, and ultimately wasted, more money on managers than many top-flight professional teams spend on their entire squads.

According to Fulham Chronicle, it cost Chelsea a combined £28m to buy out Ancelotti and bring in the now fired Villas-Boas. Chelsea reportedly had to pay £13.2m to buy out Villas-Boas' contract at FC Porto, meaning that the Ancelotti buyout was worth just under £15m. Villas-Boas' contract was worth £14m over three years and Chelsea will probably pay him most, if not all, of that money.

That means that Chelsea's last two managerial hirings and firings have cost them in the neighborhood of £42m. Whoever they hire at the end of the season is unlikely to come cheap. Additionally, the squad needs an overhaul and Financial Fair Play will actually start to restrict what a club like Chelsea can do in a few seasons. For the sake of the club, Abramovich should make sure he's a bit more careful (and patient) with his next hire.

Five moments when Andre Villas-Boas's luck turned against him:

20 November 2011 - Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

Glen Johnson's late goal condemns the hosts to a third defeat in four Premier League matches, and successive home losses for the first time in the Roman Abramovich era, to slip 12 points from Manchester City at the top. The manager claims he retains the hierarchy's support in the aftermath. "The owner didn't pay 15m [euros in compensation] to get me out of Porto only to pay me another fortune just to let me go again," says Villas-Boas.

12 February 2012 – The fallout from Everton 2-0 Chelsea

An anaemic performance on Merseyside prompts Villas-Boas to call in his squad on their day off, with emotions boiling over in the team meeting. Some senior players, most notably Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, respond by telling him exactly what they think of his tactics. Abramovich is also present at the training ground that day and, while the manager subsequently admits some of his squad are not buying into his ideas, he reiterates that he enjoys the owner's support.

21 February 2012 – Napoli 3-1 Chelsea

Chelsea are undone at the Stadio San Paolo despite taking a first-half lead, with the decision to leave Lampard, Michael Essien and Cole on the bench at the start, prompting the technical director, Michael Emenalo, to seek an explanation of the team selection on behalf of the owner. "[Abramovich] just wanted to know the thought process," explains Villas-Boas. At the time, the bold selection has the feel of a suicide note.

27 February 2012 – Interview with Portuguese radio

A lengthy interview, conducted the previous Thursday, is broadcast on the Portuguese radio station TSF in which Villas-Boas admits for the first time that he fears he may suffer the same fate as Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti. There is an unhelpful comparison of Fernando Torres's impact with that of Mateja Kezman and Andriy Shevchenko, with the comments unappreciated by the club's hierarchy.

2 March 2012 – Brutally honest press conference

Again, Villas-Boas is a victim of his own honesty. A public admission that Chelsea's squad bears no comparison with that of Manchester City, despite Abramovich's £1bn investment in the club, is politically perilous and hardly a fillip for the players he is preparing to send out against West Bromwich Albion. The game is duly lost to leave the Londoners three points behind Arsenal in fifth place.

Source: Fulham Chronicle, Chelsea FC

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