AVB victim of Chelsea's vicious circle - Football365.com

TEAMtalk guest blogger Adam Bate believes Andre Villas-Boas' struggles this season are linked to Chelsea's constant merry-go-round of managers.

Last Updated: 30/11/11 at 07:49 Post Comment    Bet with SkyBet&nbsp Chelsea 1/1 Draw 12/5 Newcastle 11/4

Villas-Boas: Sticking to his principles

Villas-Boas: Sticking to his principles

Having been linked with the Inter Milan job in the summer, Andre Villas-Boas could perhaps have afforded himself a sigh of relief after seeing Gian Piero Gasperini sacked by the Nerazzurri after just five games in charge.

Gasperini's footballing philosophy proved wholly incompatible with Inter's ageing squad. But despite dodging one bullet, Villas-Boas could be forgiven for thinking he has stumbled head on into another one.

The 34-year-old Portuguese coach may have been cast as Jose Mourinho's heir-apparent but in truth, freed from the restrictions of his role as an assistant, his style is the mirror opposite. While Mourinho constructed a Chelsea side content to defend deep and overpower opponents in attack, Villas-Boas seeks a high tempo pressing game with a high defensive line. Not so much reinventing the wheel - more trying to convert a high-powered steam engine into a Harrier Jump Jet.

A look at the statistics suggests it is business as usual at Stamford Bridge. The WhoScored website reveals that Chelsea continue to attack predominantly down the left and, despite the changes to their defensive line, their action zones remain almost identical to last season. Many of the signs are in fact positive, with Chelsea having the highest possession and pass completion percentages and the lowest number of shots conceded per game.

But the issue of pressing is a notoriously difficult stylistic change to identify from statistics. Chelsea's most obvious differential this season has been their disciplinary record - they have gone from being the 16th most aggressive side last year to picking up more bookings than any other team this season. This may be indicative of a team struggling to get to grips with a high intensity approach.

Of course, the key statistic is perhaps the only one that really matters - the league table - and it is here where Chelsea are falling short of expectations. Villas-Boas finds himself saddled with individuals either unwilling or unable to adapt to his style of play. Unfortunately for the young coach, it appears that number may include the ageing legs of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

David Pleat, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, explains: "What's happened at Chelsea is that by continually changing managers, they've all wanted to have a look at the existing players. As a consequence of that, several players haven't maximised their transfer value and they've kept them too long."

It's a problem that Mark Lawrenson feels must be tackled head on: "If Andre Villas-Boas has to make some brave decisions and leave out some of the older experienced players who have a lot to say in the dressing room, then so be it - and now is the time to do so."

Whether Villas-Boas will get the chance to do this is another matter. He appears confident, saying: "The owner didn't pay 15million euros to get me out of Porto just to pay me another fortune to get out."

But when money is no object, it's a brave man who believes this will be enough to prevent Roman Abramovich looking elsewhere.

In the face of media scrutiny, Villas-Boas remains adamant: "The philosophy is the last thing that we change." It's a commendable commitment to his footballing beliefs. But the real question is whether it is Andre Villas-Boas himself that is the last thing Roman Abramovich is prepared to change.

Follow Adam on Twitter at @ghostgoal and check out his blog at GhostGoal..

Bet with SkyBet&nbsp Chelsea 1/1 Draw 12/5 Newcastle 11/4

30 Nov, 2011

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