Andre Villas-Boas has been named the seventh Chelsea manager in only the last eight years and whilst his appointment may have come as a surprise to some, the 33-year old has brought an air of optimism and excitement to Stamford Bridge that already appears to have Chelsea fans itching for the season to get underway. Ashley Cole yesterday insisted that, with the addition of more new faces at the club, he sees no good reason as to why his side could not compete strongly on all fronts, and confidently claimed that even the treble was on the cards at Chelsea for the first time in the clubs history. It seems then, that while Cole’s comments may seem somewhat unrealistic for a club that have just failed to pick up any silverware for the first time in three years, this air of optimism and confidence is being felt not only by the fans, but by everyone involved with the club.
We must remember however, that this kind of optimism and excitement has been evident before at Chelsea, and although the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti were able to fulfil their promises of success and silverware during their reigns, those managers who were not so successful put their reputation on the line, and ultimately faced public humiliation in joining the Abramovich firing line. Whilst Mourinho was able to leave Chelsea with his reputation intact and go on to lead Inter Milan to an historic treble, it seems his successors at Stamford Bridge have been far less fortunate or successful in the jobs they have landed, or have remained out of a job since leaving the club altogether.
Avram Grant took over from Mourinho in 2007, and despite guiding the club to their first ever Champions League final, he was given his marching orders by Abramovich after less than a year in charge. Since leaving Chelsea, Grant was appointed at Portsmouth and later West Ham, both of whom he was unable to keep in the Premier League. Although Grant’s CV may not be full of the trophies and honours that one would expect of a Chelsea manager, he was still considered to be the ‘right man for the job’ after Mourinho’s departure. Nowadays however, he seems to be considered only for clubs fighting for survival, rather than those fighting for silverware.
After Grant’s sacking, Abramovich opted to bring in Luiz Felipe Scolari. Here was a manager with a vast amount of honours to his name, including a World Cup with the Brazilian national side. After 8 months at Chelsea however, Abramovich called an end to the Scolari reign, and the initial buzz and excitement that had surrounded his appointment had quickly diminished, as Chelsea fans came to recognize what was now a recurring chain of events at their club. Scolari went on to manage in the Uzbek League before returning to Palmeiras, the Brazilian side he had left nearly 10 years earlier. Whilst he may not like to admit it, this can surely only be seen as a step back Scolari’s managerial career, and one that he will ultimately hold the Chelsea hierarchy to be responsible for.
Most recently of course, we saw the departure of Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea. After completing a domestic double at the club for the first time in its history, an inconsistent second season saw his side finish only second in the league and without a trophy to boast. Defeat on the last day of the season saw Ancelotti facing the inevitability of losing his job, and despite being linked with positions at both Aston Villa and QPR, Carlo has opted to take time away from coaching, at least for the time being.
Abramovich’s appointment of Villas-Boas is certainly a brave one. However, it seems that Villas-Boas’ decision to take on such a role may in fact be even braver. Abramovich knows that should his dream of Champions League glory not be fulfilled sooner rather than later, then there are others who he can bring in to have another go. For Villas-Boas, failure at Chelsea may ruin the name and reputation that he has built himself as a manager in Portugal. His CV, although relatively short, does speak for itself, and his appointment is certainly an exciting prospect for any football fan, not just those in West London. Whilst there are those who are worried that Abramovich may be taking a risk with Villas-Boas, one cannot help but fear that Villas-Boas has taken an even bigger risk with his career by taking charge at Chelsea football club.