Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

La Liga without Mourinho and Guardiola?

Would they be doing this in England next season?

In politics, there are no permanent friends but permanent interests. This also applies in football. Going back to when Jose Mourinho was an assistant at FC Barcelona while Pep Guardiola was a player, they had a good relationship. Fast forward to the present day, Pep is the head coach of Barcelona while Jose is in charge at Real Madrid, the situation has seen “once upon a time” friends or members of the same boat turn their backs against each other several times in the media when the clasicos come up.

A possible reality that may dawn on the Primera Liga in Spain this summer is that both outstanding managers may be plying their trade in other countries, with the speculations surrounding their futures.

Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)
The loquacious Portuguese who is in the second year of his four-year contract at Real Madrid may be considering quitting the White House in Spain. Why is he quitting when his team is performing very well and are on their way to their 32nd La Liga title – the first in four years? We know how many battles he has fought since making the Spanish capital his home; battle for autonomy in all football related matters at the club, battle to break Barcelona hegemony and return the club back to its glory days, lastly his love-lost affair with the Spanish media.

It’s clear he is totally not comfortable in Spain where the experience hasn’t been as enjoyable as he expected. Although he has been granted greater autonomy than any Real Madrid coach before him, he delivered the Copa del Rey last season and he his on the way to a La Liga crown this term, but then, there is a certain BARCELONA and his perception of being treated badly by the media in Spain.

Recently, the Special One was spotted house-hunting London, an exercise which has increased the speculation about his return to the Premier League – a desire he has never hidden publicly. Jose loves the EPL and has a relationship with the press that doesn’t come close to his experiences in Italy and Spain.

Potentially there could be two new vacancies in the Premiership come this summer. Harry Redknapp is favorite for the England job which leaves Tottenham without a manager, Andre Villas-Boas has also been shown the exit door at Mourinho’s former club, Chelsea. Mourinho’s relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has greatly improved since they parted ways in 2007 and he would be given the financial backing to rebuild the “aging” squad. Tottenham would not be able to compete with Chelsea financially and even Chelsea would be a financial come down after being at Madrid where money is never an issue. Tottenham offer an enthusiastic prospect but not much more, working with players like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale is an attraction and if Mourinho was to go there, both of those players would surely stay at White Hart Lane.

Mourinho leaving Madrid is a question of when and not if as he would be leaving as an accomplished man who returned the glory days back to the Santiago Bernabeu as well as ending Barcelona’s hegemony.

Pep Guardiola (FC Barcelona)
Everything that has a beginning must surely have an end. Since he took over Barca’s first team in 2008, Guardiola has been working on a 12-months rolling contract which he has renewed in the last two years but it appears he is weighing other options this time around.

Pep has transformed Barcelona into world beaters, an envy for many rivals and an epitome of what many desire. It’s difficult to comprehend why he is stalling on a new contract or a reason why he wants to leave; maybe a new challenge is what he is relishing as he has conquered not only Spain and Europe but the entire world with Barcelona.

Pep is a through-in-through Cule breed; he hasn’t been disrespected by the Spanish media so his reasons may be personal. A quiet air of discontent has been circulating around since current president Senor Sandro Rossell’s discrediting remark about Joan Laporta’s administration which was met by an opposite opinion. Pep is seen as supporting the previous regime – that can be understood since Laporta was the man who gave Guardiola the opportunity to manage the team. Guardiola’s stand on the situation has been perceived as supporting an enemy, an act which has resulted in a bit of bad blood but his success and popularity with the players and supporters at the club has made it quite difficult for the executives to turn their backs against him. With the La Liga title heading to the capital this season, his team’s dominance may be coming to end and it provides him an opportunity to part ways with his employers.

Inter Milan and Chelsea are monitoring his contractual situation at the Camp Nou closely. If Pep decides to leave, it will be his second exit from his beloved club.

Whenever Jose or Pep decides to leave Spain for other challengers, their departure will be a colossal loss for their respective clubs and the league as they are about the best managers in the game presently. Losing both in one summer is unimaginable for me. What do you think?

More headache for Sir Alex?

The stench of the defeat... too much for Fergie to bear?

Last May, Manchester United were taught a football lesson which lasted 90 minutes at Wembley in the UEFA Champions league final. Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment after the game was commendable – he praised the victors and set himself a target to build a Manchester United side using Barcelona as the benchmark.

In his over twenty years at the helms at Old Trafford, the Red Devils manager has fought for supremacy with Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea etc domestically and the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus etc on the continent but he has never had to battle for it in Manchester. It has been United all the way

Last Sunday’s 6-1 thrashing by their “noisy neighbours” at Old Trafford is United’s biggest home loss since 1955 and their first loss at home since Chelsea won 2-1 in April 2010 is the alarm bell the Knight wouldn’t want to hear.

“Super Mario” Balotelli scored the opener with a brilliant finish and the controversial lad gave us a quote for the week – “why always me“. Johnny Evans red at the start of the second half didn not help United case. “Wario” as some would call him scored his second and it was followed by Kun Aguero’s goal. Fletcher pulled one back and all anticipation of another great United comeback was extinguished with Dzeko’s goal. The man of the match, man of the moment and arguably the best player in the Premier league till date David Silva included his name on the scorers sheet with another aplomb finish past his helpless country man, Dzeko completed the rout with his second of the game.

Scoreboards don't lie..

United were dominated and outplayed by City. An unbelievable score line or was it a mistake?

The Blue side of Manchester have made a massive statement with this victory. It’s not just the three point but the bragging rights and the self-belief that wasn’t there during the Community shield.

Is power about to change hands in Manchester? I bet a lot of United fans will disagree but with the quality of players at Mancini disposal and the strength-in- depth that City boast of which can’t be rivaled by any side in England at the moment. There is a reason for concern, virtually all positions have two top players vying for a starting XI shirt which gives the manager an opportunity to use different personnel and tactics as he decides. An example was James Milner’s role as the box-to-box midfielder which was executed perfectly by the England international. That’s a luxury Manchester United can’t boast of at the moment. The once upon a time Vidic-Ferdinand combination which was MUFC backbone is no more with Rio’s fitness (or lack of it) and his  steady poor performances against Liverpool and Man City while his partner is either injured or suspended.

I reckon that SAF’s team won’t go down like that  because the wily old Scot has all the experience to get his team back on the right track in order for his dynasty not to collapse right in front of him. One of his old comment during the emergence of the Abu Dhabi Manchester City when he said,

“over my dead body will City be the dominant team in Manchester”

must be playing on his mind now as he buries his head under his pillow once again like he did when City beat United 5-1 at Maine Road in 1989.

Is Villas-Boas the right man for the Chelsea job?

The new man on the Bridge

Several weeks after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea FC as promised have announced a new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, the 33 year old, as the man to take the reigns for the 2011/12 season.

It’s not a total surprise for me as he was one of my short-listed candidate in an earlier post “Who is the next man on the bridge” for the vacant position.

Eyebrows were raised when he turned in his resignation a few days ago but his former employer (Jorge Pinto da Costa) saw the handwriting on the wall a month earlier when Andre spent a weekend in London. With his compensation paid, FC Porto have moved on by appointing Vitor Pereira as their new coach.

Now that Chelsea have poached a second coach from Porto, a lot of questions come to the mind. Will he succeed in the EPL? Will he get Roman the Champions League trophy he’s so obsessed with? Does he have the tactical depth? Has he learn enough man management skills from Mourinho? What will be his media approach to the once tainted Chelsea reputation? How witty would his transfers be? How will he deal with players that are his age-mates, if not older? And a whole lot of unanswered questions

For anyone who followed Mr Villas-Boas’ team last season, you can be sure he has the element in him to succeed. He took charge of virtually the same Porto side that struggled in Jesualdo Ferreira’s final season which saw their hated rival Benfica to win the Liga title. He restored confidence and pride back almost immediately by defeating them in the Portuguese Super Cup.
His team played an offensive 4-3-3 formation with one holding midfielder which enable them score over 140 goals in 58 games but with a relatively poor clean sheet record (defensive frails?).His man-management skills is about first class considering all news that emanate from the Porto training ground and locker room. His team’s ability to turn the game on the head after re-emerging from the interval shows a good game reader and his calm approach on the sidelines when his team is under pressure says a lot about the man who knows his job. He definitely will need a lot of all his best attributes to succeed at Stamford Bridge where there is player power with several big players and their egos.

Can his success make Mourinho's success fade out of Chelsea's faithful's memory?

Boas will not be stepping into the shoes of Ancelotti, but into that of Jose Mourinho, The self acclaimed Special One. Arguably one of the most controversial figure in the modern day game, Jose brought some negative attention to the west London club. Carlo Ancelotti during his tenure brought something different. A calm approach with a friendly and courteous demeanor to the media and his colleagues.
Villas-Boas has shown a little bit of Jose in him last season when he was sent to the stands in a game against Vitoria Guimaraes  when he had altercation with the referee. He was dress downed by Benfica’s coach for showing his lack of experience. In the twist of fate, Jesus Jorge had a physical altercation with an opposing player, Villas-Boas responded:

“Who would have thought it? The wizened master losing his rag and behaving far worse than the upstart kid.”

His intelligence and self-assured press conferences tells you there’s something extraordinary about him.
With an English ancestry, he was asked  after taking over at The Dragao who between his two famous superiors had influenced his career more, he replied:

“I see myself much more in the image of Bobby Robson than Mourinho. Like him I’ve got English heritage, I’ve got a big nose and I like red wine.”

Chelsea have landed a whizkid who will be the youngest manager in the Premier league by the time the season kicks off.

Do you think he has what it takes to succeed at Chelsea? Please have your say in the comment box.

Who’s the next Man on the Bridge?

The drama of “to be” or “not” for Carlo Ancelotti came to a conclusive end shortly after he left the media room at Goodison Park. Chelsea’s chief executive Ron Gourlay informed him of his immediate sack. The Italian appeared to be prepared when he informed the media in the pre-match conference before the Everton encounter that he wouldn’t shed a tear if he was asked to leave.
Quite lot of football enthusiasts and coaches (SAF, Roberto Mancini) were disappointed and  full of pity for Carletto when the news circulated in the media.
Hey….no need to, Ancelotti is leaving Chelsea with his pride and reputation intact with a £5 million compensation.

I’m looking at a few coaches who have being tipped to take over at the Stamford Bridge club.

Would Roman hire his friend?

Guus Hiddink.  (Turkey national team coach)
The well traveled Dutch coach is one of the most sought after person in football today. Dutch giants PSV and Ajax AFC want him as their football director.
Hiddink, 64, is a respected manager in the game. Vast experience, good tactical knowledge with good man management skills. During his previous spell at Chelsea as a care-taker boss, he revived the Blues from their terrible slump under Luiz Felipe Scolari and led them to 2009 FA cup glory in his four month spell.
He’s a personal friend of Roman Abramovich and it’s believed he’s being considered for a role as the manager or a director.
The former Real Madrid and PSV coach hasn’t enjoyed much success lately. During his spell with Russia, the Russian national team missed out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup  in a two-legged play-off against lowly-rated Slovenia. Turkey are struggling in their Euro 2012 qualifying group.
At 64, I’m not sure of how much hunger and desire left in him to do the day to day running of club football. Not everyone will be a Sir Alex Ferguson.

Stamford Bridge bound?

Andre Villa-Boas.  (FC Porto coach)
Comparism to an enigma like Jose Mourinho have been directed at the brilliant 33 years old Porto coach who just wrapped up a treble winning campaign with his home town club, FC Porto.
The young Portuguese tactician in his debut season as Porto coach equalled a feat Porto achieved in the 1987/88 season when they captured four trophies – Portuguese Super Cup, League title, Portuguese Cup and the Europa league. The relatively unknown Villa-Boas worked as an assistant with Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese spell at Stamford Bridge.
He is an expensive target for Abramovich with Porto’s president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa insisting that any club who wants to poach him must pay his €15 million buy-out clause.
I believe Villa-Boas will want to gain UCL experience with his Porto side before jumping ship to a bigger challenge.

Surprise candidate for the job

Marco Van Basten.   (Unemployed)
Another Dutch man on Chelsea radar. Many will remeber Van Basten more as a player. The Utrecht born Dutch coach ventured in management on 2003 but became prominent in the 2004 after he took over from Dirk Advocaat as the coach of the Oranje. He led Netherlands to the 2006 FIFA World Cup where they crashed out in the second round to Portugal. The former AC Milan striker was on the bench for the Oranje in Euro 2008. They had a fantastic group stage run defeating France, Italy and Romania thus winning the group only to crash out to a Guus Hiddink led Russia in the quarter finals.
He was offered the Ajax job after Euro 2008 but he resigned after one season when his team did not qualify for the UCL.
Van Basten is noted for having disputes with his players and the most prominent was when Ruud Van Nistelrooy declared that he would never play for the national side with Van Basten still in charge.
If offered the job, it will be interesting to see how he balances the ego in the dressing room.

Would he be given the chance to revive his managerial career?

Gianfranco Zola. OBE   (Unemployed)
The Chelsea’s legend name is a surprise on this list. He will get a lot support from the fans and many will be eager to see what he can do from the sidelines.
The 44 years old Italian is relatively inexperienced. He worked as an assistant to Pierlurgi Casiraghi in the Italy under-21 side.
West Ham appointed him as their manager in the September 2008 after Alan Curbishley left. During his time at Upton Park, the Hammers played attractive football. He also promoted some of their academy players and integrated them into the first team. He was sacked by the new owners who did not believe in him.
Will Chelsea be ready to take a gamble on an inexperienced manager who is a cult hero just like Barcelona did with Pep Guardiola?

Is he ready to switch?

Didier Deschamps.  (Olympique Marseille coach)
Here’s another former Chelsea player . The French man who had a successful career as a football is cutting his niche at the managerial level. Deschamps CV is impressive. His Monaco side knocked Chelsea out in the UCL semi finals before losing to Porto in the 2004 final. He got Juventus promoted back to the Serie A in 2007 after the Calciopoli scandal.
The World Cup winning captain has built as formidable side in Olympique Marseille and has masterminded two Coupe de la Ligue titles (2010 and 2011) and the French Ligue 1 title in 2010.
Deschamps Marseille did not retain their league title this season but the board wants him to continue.

Special mention goes to Harry Redknapp of Tottenham Hotspur. With the England job for grabs in the summer of 2012, he will probably stick to his White Hart Lane job for the time being.

The Chelsea board will decide who manages the team next season. The candidates above have been mentioned in the media. Who do you feel is the right man for the job?

The price of a costly gamble (Abramovich, Ancelotti, Torres)

Chelsea surprised the football world when they splashed out 50 million quid on former Liverpool striker , Fernando Torres hours before the transfer window closed in January. A lot of questions centered on the break even plan by the London club with the UEFA financial fair play rule which would be implemented soon. El Nino’s acquisition was seen in many quarters as a desperate attempt of the Russian billionaire owner to land the coveted Elephant ear trophy (The UEFA Champions League trophy).

Big European nights like the one at Old Trafford in the second leg of the quarter finals were reasons for such investment. Fernando Torres form and lack of goals in the Blue shirt appears to have sunk the confidence of the Spaniard like the titanic. The inability of Carlo Ancelotti in finding the right balance to make the striker flourish has made such a massive investment look out of place. It looks more like the case of a square peg in a round hole. His decision to start the world cup winner in the second leg match raised many eyebrows just as it confirmed insinuations that the Italian is a “YES BOSS” man as it appears he may have been receiving instructions from upstairs. Fernando’s heavy touches as well as his movement on and off the ball confirmed a striker who is bereft of confidence and clearly a shadow of his old self. Carlo faltered….. 45minutes of play was enough to convince him and help ease Torres off media attack as he was replaced by an effective Drogba who brought life into the Blues attack as he tried to turn the tie on its head with his goal before Park Ji Sung put the nail into Chelsea’s coffin. The Wembley dream came to an end for the Londoners in Manchester.

Ancelotti admitted his error after the game when asked if he had made a mistake picking Torres. “Maybe. Could be,” he replied. “But I thought for a lot of time before taking this decision. I preferred to start with Fernando for this kind of game, with this kind of tactics. But Didier Drogba played very well in the second half.

For a man who was brought in with the major task of winning the elusive UEFA Champions League for the club, Ancelotti caught the look of a man with his tails between his legs throughout the match. Perhaps, if Roman Abramovich was awed by the achievement of Manchester United with his first hand experience of an European night in the stands at Old Trafford last Tuesday, he would realize that building a dynasty at any football club lies in the stability of a manager in spite of any financial support. Carlo’s expensive mistake may have triggered speculations of his exit from Stamford Bridge except the owner and the board decides to give him another chance on the grounds of his double success last season. For now, he needs to reshape his team to fit in the 50million pounds man with the aim of helping the sinking Torres raise from the ash like a phoenix.

Certainly, Ancelotti is hanging on to his job now just as he would have realized his own mistake could be a deciding factor come the end of the season.