Listless Chelsea leave Andre Villas-Boas' job hanging by a thread

The Blues succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of a strangely superior West Brom side on Saturday, and the players' evaporated confidence sees their manager's future in doubt
By Ryan Benson at The Hawthorns

The appointment of Andre Villas-Boas as the new Chelsea manager last summer originally seemed like the perfect fit, as one of the world’s finest young managers joined a side that needed serious refreshment following a stuttering campaign under Carlo Ancelotti.

Eight months on, though, and the match - supposed to be made in heaven - looks rushed and not thoroughly thought through.


Struggled with Fortune all match, with the striker clearly having the better of their physical battle. Always looks calm on the ball, but was given a tough battle by his opponent.

Looked disinterested for the entire 90 minutes. His passing was lazy, his tackling was half-hearted and showed no hunger at all.

The England midfielder is believed to be growing extremely annoyed with his manager for leaving him out of the team too often, but with performances like today, it’s hard to see what he can complain about.

Offered energy and was a willing runner, as he always is, but he was dominated by Andrews and Mulumbu for the most part. Struggled throughout.

Not his greatest performance for Chelsea, offering little down the right. Struggled to beat Ridgewell all game and was eventually brought off for Malouda.
Last term, Villas-Boas was in charge of Porto and masterminded the team’s treble, with the triumph in the Europa League creating the most interest, but the decision to give the Chelsea job to the former Blues scout suggests the club’s hierarchy simply followed the same road they did when appointing Jose Mourinho as manager.

Mourinho of course came to Stamford Bridge on the back of immense success at Porto and instilled a winning mentality in a team that looked too forgiving under Claudio Ranieri. Villas-Boas was a part of the set-up that remained at Chelsea when Mourinho lost his job, before eventually linking up with the now Real Madrid boss at Inter.

Perhaps it is all just a big coincidence, but it certainly seems as though they thought they could strike lucky twice, and so far that is back-firing, dramatically.

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom could prove to be the final straw for the likeable coach, with Villas-Boas himself admitting that Roy Hodgson’s side were “far, far superior” to the Blues, but as is the case with any manager, you are only as successful as your team, and quite frankly, many of his players look like they couldn’t care less.

Frank Lampard, who has been the driving force of Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era, looked as though his head was elsewhere on Saturday, as he, Ramires and Michael Essien were dominated by a Baggies midfield made up of Youssouf Mulumbu, James Morrison and Keith Andrews.

Earlier this season, Andrews found himself playing in the Championship because he was deemed not good enough for relegation-threatened Blackburn, while Mulumbu looked as though he should be playing for a team in the Champions League as he produced an eye-opening all-action display, with West Brom generally looking hungrier.

The performance of Chelsea’s hosts was exactly what they themselves should have produced. West Brom have hardly been setting the league alight this season, but their fully committed display proved they’re playing for their manager.

Sometimes things may not be going well for a team, but it is easy to tell when the players are putting effort in. They’ll look like they want to get out of their rut; pressing for a result, but this Chelsea team just doesn’t emit that desire.


"These chelsea old guys are doing everything for the manager to get sacked if I was the board I would demote them too reserves!!"
"I dont no how on earth wud have Mourinho done anything special with this bunch of players.AVB is not completely at fault .#PoorTeam"
"Andre Villas Boas is simply not good enough for Chelsea, @chelseafc should replace him with Rijkaard or Capello. @GoalUK #CFC"
Lampard wasn’t the only player to look uninterested. Didier Drogba’s performance was dreadfully lazy as he’d play what looked like simple passes straight to the opposition, and he made the central defensive partnership of Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley look significantly better than they actually are.

The whole team looked so short of confidence, even two of their better players this season, Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge, appeared uncomfortable at The Hawthorns. The England international looked scared of Liam Ridgewell, very rarely trying to beat the former Birmingham man, while the Spaniard shied away from playing those killer-balls he is so good at.

Every team in every regime has bad days. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United lose matches, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona do too and the same can be said for Mourinho’s Chelsea, but when a group of players look so uncommitted, it reflects awfully on the manager and rarely do they avoid the sack.

Since Abramovich took over Chelsea, their teams have had an aura of arrogance about them, similar to the one that seems to have engulfed Manchester City these days. The team’s unbeaten run at home under Mourinho would have gone some way towards creating that, but it seems to have evaporated into thin air.

This was exemplified before their Champions League tie against Napoli, where some fans were actually admitting they would be happy with a two, or three-one loss in Italy. Fans of the old Chelsea, whether that was under Mourinho or Ancelotti, wouldn’t have even dreamt of saying a 3-1 loss to a team seventh in Serie A is acceptable, but confidence has been well and truly sapped from the club.

Last weekend’s 3-0 win over Bolton was hardly vintage and the result definitely papered over the cracks, simply postponing any media storm for another week, and as expected, it has arrived. If Villas-Boas is to come through unscathed, his players need to put their egos to one side and support their manager.

Somehow that doesn’t look very likely.

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