Roman should hold his nerve and stick with AVB

by Dan Kilpatrick

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

At just 34 years young and with a whopping price tag of £13 million, Andre Villas-Boas’ vital statistics suggest he was never meant to be a short-term fix at Chelsea. The Portuguese arrived from Porto with a glowing reputation as Europe’s most talented young manager; his appointment suggested owner Roman Abramovich was looking to the future.

“Club” signings of young talent like Romeu, Lukaku, de Bruyne and Courtois further demonstrate that Abramovich has set his sights on a new dynasty at Stamford Bridge under AVB. The Russian must now hold his nerve and persist with his manager in the face of Champions League elimination and squad unrest.

Dynasties come and go in football and, like Arsenal and arguably Manchester United, Chelsea are not the force they once were. The great team built by Mourinho, and kept warm by a string of successors, is entering its final chapter. Sir Alex Ferguson is the master of seamlessly rebuilding, merging old into new whilst papering over the cracks with continued success; but as Arsene Wenger is finding, building successive great teams is no mean feat.

Chelsea’s lack of recent managerial consistency meant anyone taking the Stamford Bridge hot seat faced the unenviable job of clearing out the ageing egos – still pining for the “Special One” – and starting afresh with new talent. AVB has not shirked the task thus far.

He is actively trying to rid Chelsea of player-power and produce results with attractive football. Both will take time and Abramovich would be foolish not to give it to his young general. The signings of Cahill and Mata plus the pursuit of Modric suggest the owner is behind AVB’s project. To lose face now, as pressure mounts, would be a jump backwards. Further, AVB has shown glimpses of his talent in his time in West London, while his record at Porto speaks for itself.

Lampard, Drogba, Terry, A. Cole and to a lesser extent Essien have been tremendous servants for the Club but they are yesterday’s men. The future lies in players like Mata, Cahill, Ramires and, if they can ever regain form, Torres and Luiz. AVB’s “suicidal” team selections reflect this; he is taking bold steps towards a bright future.

Looking forward is all very well but the present, of course, remains important; results have to keep ticking over. Appearances (and revenue) must be kept up. With just 10 points from 12 games, Chelsea are now in danger of missing out on next season’s Champions League, a failing that could cost AVB his job.

Sacking him now and appointing a quick fix – like Hiddink, Benitez or Capello – may rejuvenate the squad enough to secure fourth place but the new man would be left with all the same old problems.

Abramovich has discarded managers as Henry VIII did wives, with his Holy Grail the Champions League crown rather than a male heir. But the Russian would do well to remember why he appointed AVB in the first place: to build a new kingdom at Chelsea for the future, not the present.

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