What a season it has been for Chelsea FC. There have been incredible highs (taking down Manchester City, progressing in the CL in 1st place, going up 3-0 on Manchester United) and some terrible lows (Everton, Liverpool, Everton, Swansea, Everton) that have kept Chelsea fans on the edge of their seats and madly typing away on message boards and fan sites. Through about 10 seconds of “research”, I’ve found that the game last weekend was the turning point for many fans of Chelsea and that many fans are ready to push AVB out the door as soon as this week. While I understand their frustrations, since I have felt them too, I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that he should be sacked.
AVB was brought in just 7 months ago by Roman Abramovich with a view to turn Chelsea around the lead us into the future. He inherited a club with “superstars” who are no longer capable of their former feats (Lampard, Drogba, Cole), players who seemingly only know how to play one way (Mikel, Malouda, Terry), and a 100% broken striker (I think you know). It was never a secret that part of AVB’s new job was to phase out the old stars and usher in a new era of younger and more exciting players. Coming into the season, the general thought from the media was that AVB was too young to command respect from the current crop of players and that he would lose control of the locker room. Clearly age is the important thing, since Scolari did such a good job of commanding respect from the team. But, I digress. While the youth argument is somewhat logical, the real concern with keeping a hold of the locker room is that fact that AVB’s job was obvious for all to see: to kick players out and bring in a new era. Never mind the fact that he is young, older players know their days are numbered and other than being professional (which is hard to find these days) have little reason to buddy up with the man that will soon be showing them the door. Just ask Anelka and Alex.
Recent reports are coming out that the players have openly criticized AVB’s tactics, in front of Abramovich, and that AVB is being undermined by none other than Jose Mourinho. While I have no idea how the Porto boss knows that Chelsea players are texting Mourinho, I must admit that I believe it. I do not think that Mourinho has a vendetta against AVB and is actively trying to get him fired, but I believe there is contact there (as players have admitted in the past) and it probably isn’t talking about how great AVB is doing. What does this prove though? Does it prove that AVB is a terrible manager or that some of the “old guard” are not happy about their reduced roles in the squad or the prospect that they will be the next player that is sent to train with the reserve team? Of course they are not happy with the situation, especially since wins are not raining down as they were for most of the Mourinho era. However, part of AVB’s appointment was to change the guard from players past their prime to players in their prime and naturally, some toes are going to get stepped on.
The other part of his job is to manage a soccer team and win games. While I am still an AVB defender, he has failed so far in the most critical aspect of his job: winning. In AVB’s defense, he is a new-age thinker with a different style than any Chelsea manager before and has inherited a team that cannot play his style. Then again, it doesn’t matter. He has to realize he can’t mold this group to fit his play and needs to mold to fit them. He will have this summer and next year to mold “his” team, but for the time being he must accept the way things are and manage the team he has. He cannot play mind games with Torres for months; if your striker isn’t scoring, you bench him. He cannot play the same formation every game in order to force the team to play his style; he must adapt for the opponent and play different styles when necessary. He cannot play a HORRIBLE fullback just because he has been playing there for a while and is “settled”; he must use the players that will perform the best. He cannot allow players to start if they show zero effort and energy during games; he must throw their asses on the bench and start players that will work their ass off for the club. Simply put, he must do whatever is necessary to ensure that Chelsea finish in the top 4 this year and THEN worry about the future. It isn’t here yet and it won’t arrive the way he wants it to if he doesn’t take care of the matter at hand: winning.
Finishing below 4th in the EPL is totally unacceptable and he will be at fault for it if it happens. He is the leader, tactician, and motivator of the Blues and they are currently falling short in all of these aspects. While he still seems 100% certain that he has 3 years at Chelsea, he cannot look past the present to get to the future. Part of our future will be decided by how the present unfolds and things are not looking too bright right now. I believe he will be the manager at Chelsea through 2012/2013 and I will reserve judgment about this performance as Chelsea manager until then. This summer will be THE biggest transfer window Chelsea has seen in the Abramovich era, both buying and selling. The team we see in 2012/2013 will be vastly different than the team that is running out today and only then can we truly judge how AVB has performed at his task to turn Chelsea around.
Is he the right man to get the most out of the current team? No. Is he the right man for the future of Chelsea? Yes.
Do you still believe in AVB? Let us know in the comments.