Chelsea boss sacked after ‘dismal’ run of form

Andre Villas-Boas looking dejected after a 3-1 defeat last month © Getty Images

Football-loving billionaire Roman Abramovich has dismissed yet another manager from Chelsea Football Club. Andre Villas-Boas had won only one of his last seven games in charge.

West Bromwich Albion fans were in fine voice on Saturday afternoon, as they watched their mid-table team of unglamorous professionals chalk up a one-nil lead over the aging superstars of Chelsea FC. From his place in the manager’s dugout, Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas would have heard the gleeful chants that were being directed his way: ‘you’re getting fired in the morning.’

As it turned out, the fans were wrong – but not by much. Yesterday afternoon, Chelsea released the familiar statement, in the usual bland but crushing ‘officialese’: ‘The board would like to record our gratitude for his work,’ it said. ‘... Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving … our only option was to make a change.’

By now, the sacking of Chelsea managers has become almost an annual tradition. Five men have been in charge at the club in the last five years. The one before Villas-Boas, former Italian midfielder Carlo Ancelotti, was sacked less than a year ago, after a one-nil defeat to Everton back in May.

Back then, Villas-Boas was the saviour – brought in for a fee of more than £13 million at the personal request of Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. But, despite early successes, Villas-Boas’ initial glow of success quickly wore off. Manchester United inflicted a 3-1 beating in September. Arsenal followed, smashing five goals past a frail-looking Chelsea defence.

As confidence dropped, the manager started to lose control of his senior players. Footballers like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole – who remembered Chelsea’s glory days under managers like Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho – were unhappy with Villas-Boas’ tactics and team selection. Villas-Boas, on the other hand, accused them of underperforming and often left them sitting on the substitutes’ bench.

Meanwhile Fernando Torres, the supposed star of the team, suffered an ongoing crisis of form that has seen him score twice in 22 games – a miserable return for a man once considered among the best strikers in the world.

A late substitution

At last, as Chelsea slumped to fifth in the Premier League table, Abramovich clearly decided enough was enough. He believes that the right manager with the right tactics must be out there somewhere; someone who can bring him the victory that he craves.

But wiser football heads are less certain that sacking Villas-Boas is the right move. Some point to the rebellious players in the Chelsea dressing room, aging players with more ego than commitment or skill. And the disastrous Torres signing was a deal done before Villas-Boas was even in charge. To have kept Chelsea in fifth place, they argue, was really quite an impressive achievement.

You Decide

  1. Was Abramovich right to sack Andre Villas-Boas?
  2. Who is more important in football: the manager or the players on the pitch?

Activities

  1. Make up a football chant to mark the occasion of Villas-Boas’ sacking.
  2. Who is the greatest sports manager or coach of all time? Give a one-minute speech arguing for your favourite.

Some People Say...

“I'd rather do anything than manage a football team.”

What do you think?

Q & A

I hate football. And I've never heard of Andre Villas-Boas!
Fair enough. In an odd way, though, what happened to him is relevant in all fields of life.
Oh really?
It's to do with the way people think about luck. Blind chance has a huge role in football; the tiny difference between a ball that hits the post and one that goes into the goal, for example…
So?
Humans have a strong psychological tendency to ignore the impact of luck and instead blame results on people. It’s something that happens far beyond football.

Word Watch

West Bromwich Albion
Albion is a common name for English football clubs, replacing words like ‘Athletic’, ‘Wanderers’, ‘United’ or ‘FC’. The word Albion is an old fashioned word for ‘England’.
Arsenal
The only team to have a tube station named after it, Arsenal Football Club was originally made up of workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, London. The club moved to North London in 1913.
Jose Mourinho
The most successful manager in Chelsea’s recent history, Jose Mourinho is regarded as one of the best in the world, and currently works at Real Madrid. His fans call him ‘The Special One’. Many commentators think he may now return to his old Chelsea job.
Fifth place
Falling to fifth place in the Premier League is significant because only the top four teams get to play in Europe’s top competition, the Champions League. Failing to qualify for that competition would be a major defeat for Chelsea.

Subjects

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