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