Villas-Boas’ successor warned ‘hell’ awaits him
Chelsea’s short-lived gamble on Andre Villas-Boas could turn out
to be a $100 million mistake by owner Roman Abramovich.
Villas-Boas was let go on Sunday after only eight months in
charge, the seventh manager to come and go in nine years, leading
to mounting criticism that the Chelsea job appears to have become
one of the most unstable in world football.
Like Villas-Boas, Luiz Felipe Scolari failed to last a full
season at Chelsea three years ago before being fired amid similar
claims of player unrest – and the Brazilian has warned: ”It will
be hell for whoever succeeds him.”
Even the League Managers’ Association in England is cautioning
anyone with an interest in becoming Abramovich’s next manager to
”What’s for sure is the club, despite unlimited wealth, haven’t
yet worked out how to build a successful football club,” LMA chief
executive Richard Bevan told the BBC. ”Looking for what is an
eighth manager in nine years is a serious embarrassment to the
owner, the club, the fans and the league.”
Despite just two years in management, Villas-Boas was brought to
London to replace Carlo Ancelotti in June after he led FC Porto to
a quadruple of titles, including the Europa League.
Amid the instability and uncertainty, Chelsea has won only three
times in 12 Premier League games this season to slip to fifth, out
of the Champions League places.
The club stands to lose up to ?50 million ($66 million) in
income if it fails to qualify for European football’s elite club
competition, although ?10 million ($13 million) could be earned
from playing in the Europa League.
On top of that, Abramovich will already be counting the cost of
the 28 million pounds ($45 million) in compensation it took to hire
the 34-year-old Villas-Boas and fire Ancelotti.
Then there is the compensation package Villas-Boas is likely to
receive after being fired with more than two years remaining on a
contract reportedly worth 5 million pounds ($8 million)
The potential $100 million cost of Villas-Boas’ reign won’t help
the club’s attempts to comply with UEFA’s strict new financial
controls to curb overspending. Chelsea made a record loss of 70.9
million pounds ($106 million) in the past financial year.
”The football club needs to balance success on the field
together with the financial imperatives of this new (UEFA)
regime,” company secretary Alan Shaw said last month.
Another season of failure in the Champions League looms unless
they can overturn a 3-1 deficit to Napoli next week in the last
The FA Cup offers the best prospect of silverware if a
fifth-round replay at Birmingham is successfully negotiated on
Tuesday, when Roberto Di Matteo takes charge of the team for the
first time in his caretaker role. Another former player, Eddie
Newton, returned to the club as part of the backroom staff on
”It has been a very difficult 24 hours for a lot of people at
the football club,” Di Matteo said on the club website. ”Today I
have mostly spoken to the players individually to try to get them
in the right frame of mind for the task ahead and that is our job
Winger Juan Mata said ”we have to start again.”
”We are not in a good moment, we are not in a good run of
results,” he added. ”But we all want to change it. I think we are
ready to change it.”
The managers’ union claimed the frequent changes at Stamford
Bridge didn’t help Villas-Boas develop a relationship with his
players, who won just 19 of 40 matches under him.
”Players need to know that the manager’s strategy and his job
is not in question; there’s a clear remit,” Bevan said. ”You get
success if you get time, and stability will come from that.
Otherwise it’s very difficult for a manager like Andre to impose
his philosophy and build a team … after only eight months, you
can’t build that sort of success.
”If you want success, you must look at the longer term.”
Manchester United could testify to that, having given Alex
Ferguson time to build and rebuild teams: the result being 12
league titles in 25 years on top of a couple of Champions League
successes – and more.
Arsenal has even stuck by Arsene Wenger despite failing to win a
trophy since 2005.
”England has clubs like Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger has been
for several years, yet has won only two or three championships,”
said Scolari, the 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil who endured a
miserable seven months at Chelsea.
”Chelsea’s culture is very different but this move is strange –
although it’s not so strange to me because of what I went through
there. Villas-Boas was a champion and he will continue to be. He
needed to replace at least seven or eight players, even since I was
there. But he failed.”
Rob Harris can be reached at www.twitter.com/RobHarrisUK