Monday, March 5, 2012

Adeus to AVB

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, ended Andre Villas-Boas’ agony by terminating his contract after the Blues lost to West Brom on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Andre Villas-Boas is only 34 years old and at Porto established himself as a top coach in the Portuguese League. Abramovich’s prayer was that he could bring the same championship record to Chelsea that he brought to Porto.

Coaching in Portugal is not the same as coaching in the English Premier League. Villas-Boas seemed out of his depth. It took him a long time to settle on his starting eleven. His substitutions appeared not carefully thought out. His team never seemed prepared for their opponents.

Great managers are outstanding managers of people. Villas-Boas lost control of his players. There was dissension in the camp. The natives were getting restless. Chelsea was not performing like the Chelsea of old.

It was never clear what Villas Boas’ concept of the game was. Against West Brom where they lost 1-0, David Luiz was hitting long balls to Drogba like the old English soccer that even lower division teams had abandoned.

Coaching Chelsea was a tough assignment for Villas-Boas. At the age of 34, he is not in the same class as Sir Alex, Mancini, Mourinho, Guardiola or Allegri. In the management of professional soccer teams throughout Europe, there is no substitute for victory. It is a zero sum game.

Abramovich was willing to pay mega bucks to strengthen the aging Chelsea team. He bought Fernando Torres from Liverpool and David Luiz from Benfica. Meireles was from Liverpool and Sturridge was brought back from a loan deal. Even though they are perched in fifth place Chelsea is behind Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Abramovich has been quick to pull the trigger on managers. Mourinho, Scolari and Ancelotti did not last long. Villas-Boas is gone and leaves behind a team that is not in great shape. There is talent but it will not be easy for the new manager to steady the ship until the end of the season.

Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United Manchester

United disposed of Bolton to maintain their two point lead over Manchester United.

Liverpool dazzled Arsenal for most of the ninety minutes but could not score. They had an abundance of chances. They moved the ball well and were it not for Szczesny, they would have taken a commanding lead. The Arsenal goalkeeper even saved a penalty taken by Kuyt.

Arsenal did not show up. Koscielny was back to his old tricks and scored an own goal. The two central defenders, Koscielny and Vermaelen were not on the same page. Rosicky who was splendid last week returned to be the old invisible Rosicky.

Van Persie snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when against the run of play, he scored on a cross from Sagna. In the waning minutes of the game Van Persie received an exquisite pass from Alex Song and hit a torrid volley beating Reina on his near side.

In the first 40 minutes, Tottenham seemed to have recovered from the meltdown against Arsenal as they dominated the mighty Manchester United.

Rooney scored minutes before half-time on a header. Manchester United eked out an Ashley Young goal in the second half. Later on in the second half Ashley Young attacked Tottenham’s defense and scored a scorcher. Tottenham’s defense had let them down in successive league matches. Harry Redknapp needs to fix Tottenham’s defensive woes before moving on to be England’s manager.

For the League title, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle are out of the sweepstakes. The race is betwixt the two Manchester giants.

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