RETROSPECT: By R. MANOGARAN (The Star) – STEVE Bruce. Neil Warnock. Mick McCarthy.
Now add Andre Villas-Boas to the list of managerial casualties in the English Premier League this season – just eight months after he was signed from Porto.
While it is never easy to see a manager being given the boot, you have to admit that at least the first three were given a fair crack of the whip.
But was AVB given the full backing and, more importantly, time to do his job?
Anyone who has been following Chelsea’s fortunes since Roman Abramovich bought the club must have known that it was only a matter of time before the axe fell on AVB, especially given the club’s wretched run of results lately.
And finally it happened on Sunday – a day after the Blues went down to a shocking 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion.
That defeat left Chelsea fifth in the standings – three points behind Arsenal who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot but a massive 20 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Many lesser teams would die to be in that position. But obviously Rom isn’t one of them.
So, is 34-year-old AVB’s sacking justified?
If you look at the team’s recent record it surely is. After all, a run of just five wins from their last 16 games – which included just three victories in 12 league matches – is abysmal to say the least for a club of such stature.
This has seen the Blues slide out of the top four in the Premier League and in danger of crashing out of the Champions League (3-1 down to Napoli after the first leg of the knockout stage) and FA Cup (fifth round replay against Birmingham) in the next one-and-a-half weeks.
I personally, though, feel that his sacking is unfair.
AVB arrived in England with top class credentials, having delivered treble titles for Porto in 2010.
He led them to their 25th Portuguese League title (finishing with their biggest-ever winning margin of 21 points). He guided them to victory in the Europa League (beating fellow Portuguese side Braga 1-0). He masterminded a comprehensive 6-2 win over Vitoria Guimaraes in the Portuguese Cup final.
That’s quite an accomplishment for one so young. And it prompted Abramovich to shell out £13.3mil to replace the sacked Carlo Ancelotti.
AVB signed a three-year contract – and he should have been given the time and authority to turn things around.
Instead, he’s had to deal with dressing room unrest for much of his time at the Bridge. For this, I blame the egotistical senior stars.
They should have given him their full backing, irrespective of whether they are in the starting 11. Not sulk and whine and undermine the manager’s authority whenever they are dropped.
AVB should have been given more time to stamp his ideas, vision and philosophy on the team.
He should have been given more time to weed out the aging players, the deadwood and the trouble-makers. He should have been given more time to bring in younger, more energetic, dynamic and creative players.
Everyone knows that AVB’s sacking is another one of Abramovich’s knee-jerk reaction to the Blues’ dismal run of results.
And the next man Abramovich brings in will suffer a similar fate if things go wrong on the field.
Would Pep Guardiola, the man most coveted by Abramovich to run the show at the Bridge, be interested in the job knowing that the slightest setback could see his head on the chopping block?
I doubt it.
But that’s Roman’s rule. So, good luck to whoever takes over the hot seat.
And talking about heat, the battle for the EPL title continues to rage with both the Manchester clubs – City and United – notching convincing wins.
While league leaders City set the tone with a 2-0 win over Bolton on Saturday, United responded with an equally clinical 3-1 demolition of title-pretenders Tottenham Hotspur.
There are 11 matches to go and 33 points to fight for, with City just ahead by two.
While these two continue to slug it out, Arsenal have slowly but surely been creeping closer to third-placed Spurs in recent weeks.
The Gunners have done well to close the gap from 10 points at one time to just four, thanks largely to a fortuitous 2-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday.
The Reds turned in one of their most impressive attacking displays this season and should have been home and dry in the first-half.
Instead, King Kenny’s men were undone by their own failings – poor finishing.
It is clear that Dalglish will have to fork out for a decent poacher with the killer touch.
I believe that once Liverpool have a fox-in-the-box, they will be ready to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Manchester duo, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea for the league crown.
R. Manogaran wishes King Kenny a happy 61st birthday (on March 4) and hopes he will get the team back where they belong next season.
- Don’t complicate things by winning, says match-fixer
- Villarreal end poor run with victory over Gijon
- Milan forwards feel the heat after poor start
- Hiddink blames Turkey’s failure on poor club system
- Dzeko ends Man City’s poor away run with Wigan win