Was anyone surprised that Roman Abramovich fired Andre Villas-Boas? Nope. Since purchasing Chelsea in 2003, Villas-Boas was the eighth manager to work under the Russian Billionaire, with Guus Hiddink and Graham Rix (only two matches) doing it as caretakers.
Abramovich is a bit unexpected with his reactions, keeping managers when the overall feeling is they’ll be getting axed, doing the opposite despite popularity or good results. Even the great Jose Mourinho, who won a title each seasons he coached at Stamford Bridge, didn’t stand in the way of the rich man’s fury. Villas-Boas was a wrong, vain choice to begin with, but he’s not the first to lose the dressing room or his job while getting a fat compensation package.
And there’s the curious case of Avram Grant, which people don’t fully understand to this day.
Ranieri was there before Abramovich, beginning his managerial career in West London back in September 2000. His fourth season, the first under Abramovich saw an influx of cash and players go into the club. It was also Chelsea’s best season in 50 years, finishing second in the Premier League and reaching the Champions League Semi Final.
Ranieri was doomed from the start, despite the fans’ love for him and making the most against an Arsenal side at its best, including knocking them out in the Champions League. Abramovich wanted a more, well, marketable figure on the sidelines, and Jose Mourinho quickly emerged as the hottest new thing in town. Ranieri has since coached at Valencia, Parma, Juventus, Roma and is currently at Inter.
The golden standard. The first man to lead Chelsea to a title since the 1950’s (with a lot of help from Abramovich and his bank account), Mourinho won two league titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups during his three seasons at the club, finishing second in the league in his third season.
There was a growing rift between manager and owner during the 2006-2007 season, and a rough start in the beginning for Mourinho’s fourth campaign with the club resulted in the termination of his contract, but Mourinho’s shadow has been a part of everything Chelsea ever since. Once again, with the job up for grabs, Mourinho is linked with a return to Stamford Bridge.
Friendships with Super agents aside, Avram Grant is an enigma. Even in Israel, where he won four league titles in a relatively short time and led the national team to an undefeated qualifying campaign (although he didn’t qualify), he’s somewhat of an Enigma. From a technical advisor at Portsmouth to some mysterious position at Chelsea and poof, after the smoke cleared from the Mourinho sacking, Grant became manager.
The funniest thing? He did pretty well. He was awful with the press, who never really loved him or gave him a chance, but he was only two point behind Manchester United when it was all said and done. He is the only manager to lead Chelsea into the UCL final, losing because of John Terry’s slip in the penalty shootout. No one expected Abramovich to keep him, and since then Grant got relegated with Portsmouth, West Ham and is currently the manager of Partizan Belgrade.
Luiz Felipe Scholari
Roman Abramovich loves big names, and big Phil, a World Cup champion, was a very good choice in terms of publicity after Avram Grant. But Scolari struggled to control the dressing room, the unbeaten home streak ended during his reign and the exit signs were lighting up sooner than usual. Scolari lasted just over six months with the club, and was replaced by Guus Hiddink, who was also the Russia national football team manager at the time, with his salary paid by Abramovich.
Unlike the others, Hiddink wasn’t fired. He did very well with Chelsea during his three months with the club, losing only one match in the 22 he managed. His international obligations were more important to him despite the fact that Abramovich wanted him to stay, and Hiddink is once again mentioned as a possible replacement, this time with a more permanent sound to it, although nothing is permanent with Abramovich.
The French Ligue 1 doesn’t have the same allure of the Premier League, but I’m pretty sure Ancelotti is enjoying himself. A rich club, a big club, about to win its first league title in 18 years, and Ancelotti has a very bright future ahead if things are played right. His first season at Chelsea was fantastic, setting scoring records with the club, finishing ahead of Manchester United.
The second season? It started out in incredible pace, but for some reason, Ray Wilkins got axed, and it was all downhill from there for a while. Ancelotti was actually waiting for the termination announcement, but he last the season, eventually pulling Chelsea back to 2nd and another Champions League spot, which was at risk earlier on.
Now that AVB is gone, the dirt will be spilling more frequently on him and his months at Stamford Bridge, but it’s safe to say that losing the dressing room, just like it was for Scolari, was the main reason Villas-Boas didn’t last. Bad results and in general, a lack of experience that led the very young Portuguese manager to try and implement a style on the team without the right personnel for it, crashing and burning for it.