Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Square Pegs and Round Holes - Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea

Today is a day for being slightly cantankerous, I'm uncharacteristically ill and laid up in bed which gives me the perfect impetus to blog. Pretty football is somewhat of a pre-occupation for fans, owners and coaches these days. There's nothing wrong with wanting your team to play like Barcelona or Swansea City but the desire and the reality are oceans apart. Chelsea are a perfect example of how you can't coach a completely new style and expect it to work quickly. It may work (for a minute or two) but it won't score goals. It takes a certain group of players to make the high-line/Barca way work, the manager can try and implement his style all he likes but if the micro-combinations of players aren't up to the job, it will never work.

With Chelsea, the ageing core of players inherited by the sprightly AVB have never been trained to play in the style he is lavishing upon them. To be expert and brilliant at anything takes many hours of training from a young age, the same applies with systems in football. Arsene Wenger is living proof that no matter how much theory and substance you apply to your coaching methods, they will only deliver the goods when all the components match (Les Invincbles). Football reflects life in many ways; you can walk into a room full of people where the dynamics are strained and awkward then go next door to another party and everything is hunky dory. Some things in life just work, the inexplicable laws of human connectivity, football really is no different.

Andre Villas-Boas seemed like a breath of fresh air when he rolled up at Stamford Bridge in the summer but now, more-so than ever, Chelsea fans are on the edge of their seats, not knowing what big bad Roman will do next. Having a merry-go-round of managerial staff isn't exactly the sort of thrills the average football fan seeks. Having an owner like Abramovich will mean Chelsea always have a 'temporary' air about them as a club, there is no sense of the fans really feeling like they are an important part of their club. Chelsea are a toy for Mr Abramovich and anyone who chooses to manage them might as well have Duracell tatooed across their forehead.

One thing Villas-Boas might be wise to do in order to halt the mudslide is to adopt a pragmatic, Italian-like principle of coaching, get the players to do what they understand best. Over time, his methods may or may not work, according to the players bought and how they react to the style of the premier league. It isn't so much about how your team plays as what your opponent brings to the table. Just look at how Manchester City respond to teams who congest their playground by setting up a defensive stance like an infectious disease control unit!

As I write, Chelsea's prospect of qualifying for the Champion's League in 2012/13 is pasted with uncertainty. There are no more options for rejuvenating the squad, what AVB has is what AVB must make work for the rest of the season. Who would have thought with all the riches and the foundations Jose laid, Chelsea would be where they are now? I don't think there is one soul out there who would disagree that the owner is the problem, you don't see as many kids wearing Chelsea shirts these days, this is one club who are in desperate need of a polish.

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