When hearing someone say Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has lost control, the images that are conjured up are those of a player revolt, with dressing room difficulties, and John Terry leading the protests, in a repeat of the Mourinho situation, thinking he knows better than the manager – sorry JT but the decline in both your and Chelsea’s form since the departure of a certain Special One suggests this is not the case. Maybe the phrase ‘lost control’ at the club in fact refers to a dispute with the man upstairs – no not god, as he likes to think of himself as, but Roman Abramovich. Again you’d be wrong in that assumption. What AVB has in reality been accused of losing control of is the discipline at the club.
For a man who learnt his trade under someone who makes his team train with 11 v 10, just in case UEFA and the relevant opposition are displaying favouritism once again, it is not as shocking as it should be when revealing that AVB and his Chelsea side have incurred 5 red cards in the last 8 games, finished the game against QPR with only Cech and Mata not receiving a caution from the starting 11 and can also claim to have never escaped having at least one player on the wrong end of a yellow card in every game this season.
Yes, Chelsea may point to the fact they never fare well under the officiating eye of Chris Foy, and he has been responsible for the sending off of 4 Chelsea players this season alone, yet for the vast majority of the red card offences, Chelsea can have little to no complaints. This is something that has been a prominent factor at the club for more than a couple of seasons now, with disciplinary issues marring much of the success Chelsea have had. Many may point back to the Mourinho era and say it was instilled in the players since then, and has not been cut out of the team despite the amount of managers since.
This however is something that AVB quite simply has to cut out of Chelsea’s game, as sooner or later playing with ten men or less as the case may be will cost them more than just 3 points at Loftus Road. Not only is it physically draining on the players but they also have to then deal with the suspensions on top of the injuries that inevitably occur and the loss of several players to the African Nations. Needless suspensions are something that have to be cut out and are something that AVB cannot let carry on any longer or the manager will be serving his head on a platter to Abramovich’s overused managerial gauntlet.
Another lingering factor from the Mourinho days is the way players harass the referee. Chelsea players are nearly but not quite as guilty of this as Barcelona ones, but there are few teams in football that are as bad. John Terry and Ashley Cole are by far the worse culprits of this, and the way in which they can intimidate the officials would put Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher to shame. Again this does not look good on Chelsea’s record, but players cannot be expected to stop doing it when the manager is just as culpable.
For the majority of the time he’s been in the hot seat at Stamford Bridge, AVB has remained relatively cool, mannerisms on the touchline aside, yet after the game against QPR the young manager lost his cool completely and now faces having to ‘explain his conduct’ to the FA.
Every manager can be forgiven for losing their cool once in a while, and if this is an isolated incident then little should be made of it – Fergie especially has got away with more than a couple of comments over the years. Yet the way in which Chelsea surround the referee again is not a particularly good look for them and something Roman Abramovich is none too happy about.
Following the QPR game, Chelsea and John Terry have much to answer for, and it is vital that AVB shows strong leadership. The victory over Everton, unsurprisingly with 10 men, was a good reply performance wise, yet the ill-discipline has got to stop.
Should JT be found guilty of making racist remarks towards Anton Ferdinand, not only should the FA throw the book at the player, but Chelsea must do so as well. It is there that AVB may face his toughest challenge yet – suspending or stripping Mr Chelsea himself of the captaincy? One can only imagine the revolt – no wonder AVB and Chelsea are defending John Terry so vehemently. Before this potential problem however, AVB must deal with the issues in hand, and none are more pressing than the loss of discipline at the club.