His £13.3m price tag automatically put a lot of weight on his shoulders, and expectations were high for the now 34 year-old, who won four trophies in just two seasons with Porto. A three-year contract showed ambition, bearing in mind Abramovich has appointed seven different managers in his nine-year stint at Stamford Bridge.
However, the loving relationship between Abramovich and Villas-Boas seems to have soured. The early lust for one another has turned into a boring marriage, destined for divorce. Sitting fifth in the league, 17 points off the summit of the table, and having already been knocked out of the Carling Cup, alongside some fairly lacklustre performances in order to remain within the Champions League and FA Cup, AVB has hardly had the most riveting start to his Chelsea career.
In recent weeks, Villas-Boas has confessed that some of his players 'don't back his project', and there were reports in Portugal that some players were still in regular contact with ex-manager and fans' favourite Jose Mourinho - the man AVB was brought in to emulate.
Four of the players in his squad are 33 or older (Lampard, Hilario, Drogba and Ferreira), which hardly gives the new manager a reliance on the respect earned based on age. That may seem a very long-winded way of putting it, but with age parity being so very close throughout his squad, there seems to be an easy assumption that 'he's young; he doesn't have a clue'.
Talk over the weekend suggested Abramovich himself had had heated words with the players over the recent poor form displayed in the league, further undermining the 'project' AVB is attempting to create.
There seems to be a split decision amongst the Chelsea fans, too. Many have said they agree with AVB, and he should be given time, whereas many are expecting instant success, and want a replacement brought in as soon as possible to rescue the season. Villas-Boas really is the managerial Marmite of today's football.
It really is a shame, too. AVB is a very talented and gifted manager, who has inherited an ageing squad that needs a radical shake-up to change the team back to winning ways. Previous manager Carlo Ancelotti spent a lot of his coaching career in Italy, where he learned how to gain the best from a squad filled with players over the age of 30, but AVB left a Porto side where the average age was just 24 years of age. Just three of the 24 players in his squad were over 28.
AVB needs time, money and an opportunity to develop this team into the illustrious squad Mourinho once had. It will be painful; it won't be pretty; it will result in defeats, but this project will only lead to success. Senior figures will leave the club this summer, and that will gain AVB some authority, but the end of this season will be difficult.
Abramovich is not a man known for his patience. Yet I feel he likes AVB - he can see Jose within him. That can only bring the happiness Chelsea fans want, and that will make him a living legend of the club.
If Villas-Boas can keep Chelsea in contention for European places, and he can guide them on good cup runs in both the Champions League and FA Cup, the season can be deemed a reasonable success, bearing in mind the start of the season and the turmoil the club has suffered throughout the last six months. The John Terry fiasco has left a dark cloud over the club - innocent or guilty - and has affected morale. Fans respect that, and I really do hope that they understand the struggles AVB is having at present.
The summer will see replacements for old stalwarts of the team brought in, in order to bring through youth alongside experience, and that will only be a good thing. He needs an opportunity to do exactly what he wants with the team, and that will come over the coming months. Only time will tell.
As a United fan, I really do feel sorry for Chelsea. They've had a torrid start to the season, but that will happen with change. Although difficult to watch for fans of the club, they can take comfort in the knowledge that Abramovich won't watch his glorious club sink. And AVB has the driving desire to not let it ever get to that point.
Add a Comment