Chelseaai??i??s young Portuguese manager insisted prior to the game against a resurgent Liverpool that Guus Hiddinkai??i??s ever looming shadow wasnai??i??t figuring on his mind. Without trying to doubt the veracity of that statement, itai??i??s safe to say Villas-Boas will be spending the next few days or weeks looking over his shoulder in dread.

Had Chelsea managed to draw Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, after coming from behind, or even managed to snatch an unlikely win, the odds of Hiddink making a return to Stamford Bridge would have been drastically lengthened. Anzhi Makhachkala who are busy sniffing around for a new manager – with Capello, Hiddink and Scolari reportedly on their shopping list ai??i?? wouldai??i??ve been a prime destination for someone looking to see out the final years of his career in a place of relative solitude.

 

Deer In The Headlights

 

But in crashing to their 3rd defeat in 4 games, Chelsea have begun to look like a rudderless vessel tossing and turning in choppy seas. And at the helm sits a pensive, brooding Russian gentleman with a taste for the finer things in life and a willingness to resort to the tried and tested when things fail to go according to plan.

Like the owner of a cruise liner who seems content at first to let the first mate steer his ship through calm Mediterranean waters, only to hand control back to the old seadog captain when they encounter the raging Atlantic, Roman Abramovich might just pick up the receiver and make a distress call to former Turkey coach, Guus Hiddink. An SOS, unlike any other, if you will.

Fortunately, however for Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea and Roman by extension are trying to appear to have turned over a new leaf. The ruthlessness of yore, often manifested in those managerial merry-go-rounds, is now supposedly a thing of the past. Chelsea are apparently, or so we are made to believe, willing to give someone a Fergie-like extended tenure at the top. And that means biting their lower lips, and grinning grudgingly through the pain even when one short term goal after another fails to be achieved.

You could expect to hear, in addition to the usual proclamations of how Villas-Boas has the backing of his mercurial owner, about the creation of a new post within Chelseaai??i??s board or inner cabal. Something along the lines of Additional Director of Football; what will remain unsaid is that the post is likely to evolve into one that involves the ai???Directorai??i?? reporting to Roman on the nitty-gritties at Cobham, breathing down the incumbent managerai??i??s neck, and having possibly an even greater say than the latter does in team tactics.

 

This Is The House That Roman Built

 

Young Villas-Boas need not feel threatened by any of this. If anything, he looks like he could do with the presence of a superior watching over him. Not quite in the mold of a father who watches with anticipation after he takes the training wheels off of his kidai??i??s bike, but someone to reassert Chelseaai??i??s core strengths while Villas-Boas is given the freedom to tinker. All indications point to Villas-Boas being a smart person, if youai??i??re willing to overlook how obstinately he can be wedded to his ideas. And the chance to work under Hiddink, while remaining the public face of the club, should be something that will do him a world of good.

Hiddinkai??i??s presence might engender some degree of restraint in Villas-Boas, preventing him rolling out the kind of puzzling line-up that took the field against Liverpool. Chelsea play their best football at home, and in a 4-3-3 formation. Villas-Boas chose to throw all of that out the window on Sunday. He went in with Drogba as a lone striker, even though the newly-returned Ivorian played his best football in the past in tandem with Anelka as his hunting partner. He then opted to field Juan Mata in a central but advanced role, with a past-his-prime Malouda on the left, and Ramires on the right. His worst roll of the dice, was playing Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel as defensive midfielders.

This was probably Villas-Boasai??i?? worst game as a tactician. Mata, who prefers roaming to being slotted in a position was anonymous for the most part in the first half. Ramires was unaccustomed to playing this high up the pitch without Lampard, or Meireles for company. And John Obi Mikel proved to be on a single-minded mission to ensure he spends the rest of his career on the bench. When Drogba failed to set the field alight, clearly not comfortable with the kind of game Sturridge and Mata play, Villas-Boas should have done the sensible thing and brought on Torres.

If Carlo Ancelotti playing Torres against Liverpool in his first game at Chelsea was fool-hardy, Villas-Boas holding on to Meireles and Torres till the dying moments of the game was cowardice. Chelsea would have been an altogether different proposition had Mata, Torres and Sturridge led the offense, while Meireles, Lampard and Ramires ran the show in midfield. Which begs the question, does Villas-Boas really know his best side?

 

Encore, S'il Vous Plait?

 

On the evidence, youai??i??d have to reply in the negative. Villas-Boas seems to believe a magical formation exists out there, that would change Chelsea overnight into a certain Catalan outfit if he could only get it right. Hiddink might be the perfect person to burst that bubble. Villas-Boas needs to be told to play the best game he can with the players currently at his disposal, not the players he wishes he had. He needs to persist with the 4-3-3 mentioned earlier, rotating personnel across competitions to keep those aging legs refreshed.

In the end, managers are often remembered by just a single characteristic of theirs. A defining decision, a memorable gesture, a questionable outburst might be what leaves an indelible mark in Chelseaai??i??s collective consciousness. Mourinho had his ai???chin upai??i?? gesture, rallying a club that had just lost the league after back to back victories. Avram Grant knelt down as he dedicated the Champions League semi-final victory to the memory of the Holocaust. Scolari, for all his failings, will be remembered for the way the players mobbed him in a frenzied touchline celebration that marked the late comeback win over Stoke City in 2009. Hiddink etched himself into legend staring down referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after the Champions League fiasco. And Ancelotti had the raised eyebrow.

So far, the only thing Andre Villas-Boas has contributed by way of visual imagery to Chelseaai??i??s tale is that forlorn crouch of his and the furrowed brow as he ponders the future of the team, and perhaps his own, sitting on his haunches. The loneliest man in Stamford Bridge.

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2 Responses to “After Chelsea Crash To Liverpool, Is Andre Villas-Boas In Trouble?”

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  1. ajoy b says:

    AVB is on borrowed time. I was assumiing a loss at Blackburn would have been his final day in the club. He saved his ass that day but he is on extended time. Or maybe Roman has lost interest in the club after rapid fluctuation of oil prices last couple of months.

  2. Aditya Sharma says:

    As of now, Chelsea could finish anywhere between becoming Premier League Champions to finishing 6th place UEFA Cup contenders. It’s quite simply too early to tell. However, I hope , even if the Blues do end the season outside the top-4 spot, that AVB will be given atleast one more season to try to get something out of the team. If you just look at his situation: a manager as old as some of his stars, joining at a team where the stars of the past seasons (Drogba, Essien, Lampard) are reaching the end of their respective roads, with players like Torres who carry plenty of baggage with them… and on top of all this, being asked to ensure that the team plays ‘beautiful football’. It was always going to be uphill. Hope Abramovich cuts him some slack and lets him be, even if he doesnt deliver in his first season here