Not so long ago, Chelsea paid a significant sum to hire this man, Andre Villas Boas. AVB was viewed as the next “Special One” which made some sense as he studied under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and then won the Europa League with Porto in his first stint as head man. AVB is a young, talented tactician, who undoubtedly benefited from working closely with the brilliant Mourinho. I believe that AVB can become one of the World’s great manager, but his failure at Chelsea is illustrative of the perils of managment at the top levels.
Taking the Chelsea job at this point in his career was a disaster. The club has extraordinary expectations that do not correspond with it’s present capacities. English football has fallen behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, and has as was evident in this season’s UCL, lost any advantage over Italian football. Chelsea has not developed any notable young talent in the last several years, nor acquired any prime world class talent in the last two or three seasons. The core of Chelsea has aged with visible decay, and the core has already endured several coaching changes giving it the belief that they are more Chelsea than any manager. This was an unenviable situation to walk into, but AVB did so with full knowledge of it’s existence.
AVB is a first rate tactical manager and can speak with eloquence on modern tactics of all top teams. His understanding of the game is apparently beyond reproach. His man management and patience are not on the same level. AVB should have realized that the type of tactical overhaul he intended to implement would be longer in time. He needed to have the patience to realize his football over a two year span, and the foresight to bond with the Chelsea veterans, even compromising his preferred tactics, to get the most out of them.
Football, any sport for that matter, demands results at the highest levels, but time can be purchased with espirit de corps. It can be a fine balance, but this was AVB’s most significant failure. He did not connect with the veteran players and let this fester. He publicly distance himself from the need for their approval, almost oblivious that these veterans spend enormous amounts of time and hold influence of the entire playing squad. Their unhappiness infected the team, and beyond that AVB’s reputation with players abroad. This was the cancer of his undoing and will cast the longest shadow on his future.