It’s not often that a manager’s reputation is unaffected even after a sacking, but Andre Villas-Boas is likely to find himself with plenty of high-profile suitors during the summer despite his weekend departure from Chelsea.
Faced with the task of rebuilding the West London club while at the same time working for a notoriously impatient owner and managing some notoriously influential players, it’s perhaps no surprise that Villas-Boas failed even to complete a full season in charge.
The former Porto boss was to help freshen up an ageing Chelsea team, but then heavily criticised when dropping some of the older players. Frank Lampard recently voiced his discontent publicly, adding to the pressure on Villas-Boas following some poor results.
Lampard is unlikely to have been the only of Chelsea’s senior players to be unhappy with not starting every game, but his decision to publicize changing room discontent clearly undermined his manager, as was possibly the intent given the timing and tone of his unnecessary remarks.
To his credit, Villas-Boas has remained focussed on his own task and carried out his job with large amount of dignity. There have been no personal attacks on his players, no mind games with opposition managers, and he has always been quick to face the media in post-match interviews, despite the pressure which he’s been under for some weeks.
The achievements of Villas-Boas during his only full season in charge of Porto – winning a league, domestic cup and Europa League treble – will still be of much more significance to chairmen at Europe’s top clubs than a failed spell at Chelsea.
For Roman Abramovich, it is difficult to predict his next move. Experienced managers – such as double Champions League winning coach, Carlo Ancelotti – have been appointed to the Stamford Bridge dugout, yet sacked on the back of a handful of poor results.
And last summer’s new policy of hiring a young, talented manager with the task of rebuilding the team for the future has ended with Abramovich’s lack of patience once again highlighted.
The shortlist of contenders to be the Chelsea managers job will undoubtedly include some of the best managers on the continent, but it’s questionable whether any top manager would want to work at a club where so little support was offered by the owner or chairman.
Harry Redknapp, one of the names who Chelsea have been linked with, is already set to face the dilemma of whether to manage England or continue managing a rapidly improving Spurs. Both options offer their own attraction, whereas taking on the Chelsea job would be a huge gamble when considering the position of the club and the potential that not everything would go to plan.
And as experienced managers may be put off due to the experiences of Ancelotti and Scolari, so too could younger managers look at the reign of Andre Villas-Boas as an argument to stay put at their current clubs.
Roman Abramovich has invested countless millions in helping Chelsea compete with the best in Europe during nine years in England. But he is also to take a share of the blame for a lack of long-term vision, especially in his desperate quest to win the Champions League.
Short of a change in fortunes – and in a change of attitude amongst some high-profile players – Chelsea’s upcoming second leg tie against Napoli may be the last they see of the Champions League for some time.
Not that Villas-Boas needs to worry about that; He’ll almost certainly be back managing in Europe’s top competition next season.