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A New Era

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From the Daily Mail.


Andre Villas-Boas is not the first Chelsea manager to hit an autumn blip in recent years but he has one key factor in his favour which others did not enjoy.

For the first time since Jose Mourinho swept in and changed the rules at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich is convinced a major team-building project is required.

Tactical revolution: Andre Villas-Boas is making major changes to Chelsea's side

Abramovich, according to those in his confidence, accepts his manager’s argument that Chelsea’s squad needs to be refreshed. More importantly, he believes Villas-Boas is the man to do it and will back him, despite three defeats in four Barclays Premier League games and the availability of Guus Hiddink.

Things can change abruptly when they depend upon the whim of one man and when qualification for the Champions League means so much. But, at the moment, Abramovich seems firmly behind the young coach he prised from Porto in the summer.

This does not mean all is harmonious at the club’s training ground in Surrey. The players reported yesterday, less than 24 hours after losing at home to Liverpool, in the knowledge another defeat at Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow will intensify the scrutiny on the camp. Some are unhappy with the Villas-Boas regime.

Tactically, the back four are not comfortable operating with such a high defensive line and have found it difficult to get their views heard.

Senior players are now more distant from Abramovich and have less influence on the owner.

Uncomfortable: John Terry and Co are struggling trying to play a higher line

Young players, despite hints they would be given the games they require to develop, have rarely been trusted. Talented teenager Josh McEachran has been used sparingly, as has Oriol Romeu. Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand, not in the Champions League squad, played for the reserves on Monday and Daniel Sturridge - the striker in the hottest form - cannot get a game at centre forward.

Villas-Boas has shown little evidence of willingness to change his methods and players have found liaison with him difficult.

Most Chelsea managers have hit a point like this, particularly those who have arrived with grand ideas before finding the variety is not available within the squad to carry them off. Carlo Ancelotti tried to impose a midfield diamond with Frank Lampard in an advanced position but realised it was not working. It is testament to Ancelotti’s acumen that he reverted to the system brought in by Mourinho and won the Double.

A couple of years earlier, Luiz Felipe Scolari had tried to loosen the reins on the team to encourage more adventurous football but this ultimately failed and he was sacked.

Waiting in the wings: Daniel Sturridge's opportunities have been limited so far

Villas-Boas has imposed his own changes in search of a way to emulate Barcelona, but has hit the autumn blip. Chelsea’s players are not ideally suited to the way he wants to play. So does he scrap his plan like Ancelotti or press ahead?

Villas-Boas is youthful and energetic, brimming with ambition and ideas, while there is a wider perception that some players - wonderful players - are starting to fade.

The manager must press on but consider a concession, at least until the transfer market opens. He must listen to his players and find a compromise, especially at the back.

English teams are happier than their European rivals to play direct football and exploit space behind a defensive line.

Convinced: Roman Ambramovich believes Villas-Boas is the right man for the job

This leaves the centre halves in a foot race with the strikers, not something John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz enjoy. Chelsea’s centre halves must be more comfortable and better protected or the team’s instability will spread.

Abramovich’s patience will be tested if his team keep leaking late goals and surrendering points and their Champions League future comes into the equation. It is then that Hiddink’s availability comes into the equation.

Only one Chelsea team has been built in the Abramovich era. It was a great one, built by Mourinho, and has been patched up a few times since. This is the second building project and Villas-Boas is the chosen architect. At least he is for now.

Ok I know its the Daily Mail but I think the point of the article is a very valid one. That is that the major difference between AVB and other managerial appointments like Ancelotti, Hiddink, Scolari and Grant is that, like Mourinho, Villas Boas has been hired to build a new team.

"Only one Chelsea team has been built in the Abramovich era. It was a great one, built by Mourinho, and has been patched up a few times since"

That is a significant quote and a true one. Only one team has ever been built in Roman's time at the club and patched up with the occasional signing. Essentially the core of the team has remained the same one that it was under Mourinho. Villas Boas has been tasked with building an entirely new squad and this doesn't happen quickly, especially when the project is being bogged down by sub par players in the squad.

I find it encouraging that Abramovich has reportedly backed AVB. We all know how much Roman wants a side that plays attractive football and how much he admires the Barcelona model. I also think AVB is the right man to bring beautiful football to the Bridge but for that to happen his decisions need to be backed by the top brass, if he feels that some players aren't up to scratch then they should be sold, if he asks for us to buy a player than that player should be pursued to the best of the clubs ability. Much like we had faith in Mourinho and his transfer decisions, we should have the same faith in AVB, not only faith but patience because he has been tasked with a larger task than Ancelotti, Hiddink, Grant or Scolari were, their goal was to win, AVB's is to build a new team, with a whole new way of playing and to continue winning while doing that, not many managers can pull such a thing off, I believe AVB is one of the few who can.

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Valid points - everybody needs to realise that Chelsea need to rebuild again. For too long the club has been left to coast along changing the odd player here or there and allowing a core group of players to grow old together at the club.

It is difficult because this core group have been the main factor in the club being so successful over the last decade, and I think the emotional ties have always made it difficult to accept, particularly for fans.

However something needs to be done. The likelihood is that Drogba and Anelka won't be here next season with their contracts running down and both players turning 34 and 33 respectively early next year. So they should be phased out over this season - Torres and Sturridge should get the nod in front of them to play regularly and develop an understanding together, with Anelka and Drogba waiting in the wings either as substitutes or in the event of injuries/suspensions.

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What I've learned this morning is that pastes from The Daily Mail don't turn out well. If any of the Admins have the power to edit the article so that it is readable that would be much appreciated because I haven't a clue how to.

No problem, I fixed it ;)

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Problem is, in my opinion, the best football we played all season is when we played our old system in the second half against Liverpool (yes we lost, but we created chances to score at least 3 or 4 goals and kept liverpool from having more than two shots). If I'm honest I think we would've scored in the last 10 mins if Torres and Meireles. I have confidence in AVB but I'm not sure that this new system is going to work at Chelsea unless it is modified.

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