by Liam McConville

“It has to be the right guy in the job for 10 or 15 years and, in light of Andre’s age, he may well be that guy.” Bruce Buck, Chelsea Chairman, October 2011.

In the end it seemed inevitable. It was a question of when not if Andre Villas-Boas would leave Chelsea. The term poisoned chalice or impossible job is often overused or in most cases simply not true but with Chelsea it is entirely justified. This season has been a disaster for the Blues and pretty much everyone at the club is culpable. It is a well-known fact that owner Roman Abramovich craves the Champions League trophy but Chelsea are further away lifting the famous trophy than any other time under the Russian’s tenure. So now with qualification for next year’s competition in serious doubt, the decision has been made to remove the man who was supposed to usher in a new era in West London.

Villas-Boas has at been naïve at times but was fighting a losing battle from almost the start. He has had to deal with a host of problems at a club dominated by senior players with over-inflated egos and an exaggerated sense of importance. Chelsea has been governed by this group of players who long for the return of the Special One and reject almost everyone else. It could be argued that the likes of Drogba, Terry, Cole and Cech have held Chelsea back more than anyone else. They have seen off managers before and now they have another victim. AVB joins an illustrious list of managers thrown on the Stamford Bridge scrapheap and the players must take the majority of the blame.

Roman Abramovich has tried almost every type of manager over the last five years but almost all of them have failed for one simple reason, they’re not Jose Mourinho. Only Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti out of the five post-Mourinho mangers have won silverware, a damning indictment of a squad that has dramatically under-achieved. The shadow of the Special One hasn’t so much loomed large but completely covered Stamford Bridge since his departure.

The great secret to the long term success of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and to some extent Arsene Wenger at Arsenal is knowing when to move players on. The art of seamlessly rebuilding to keep the squad hungry and fresh is difficult and almost impossible without an established manager who is there for the long haul. This is Roman’s biggest mistake, the constant changing of managers has meant there has been no continuity at Chelsea and the squad built by Mourinho has grown old together with little change.

The final straw came in Naples as Villas-Boas dropped Essien, Cole and Lampard to the bench.

The arrogance of Chelsea was on full display last January when with the storm that was always coming surfaced. The Blues were in danger of slipping out of the top four under Ancelotti, the cure to this in Roman’s mind was to splash out £50million on Fernando Torres (whose career has completely collapsed at Stamford Bridge). Add in David Luiz a quality footballer but a liability as a defender at a cool £21million and just over twelve months on that expensive gamble has backfired spectacularly. Although Chelsea recovered to finish second behind Manchester United they still dispensed with Ancelotti, a year after he delivered the double.

That left the new manager with a squad that had completely stagnated and with little time to rebuild. Juan Mata was the big arrival of the summer and immediately settled in as Chelsea started reasonably well. Villas-Boas in only his second full season as a manager impressed with his attacking football and for a while it seemed like the ambitious new project could work. A 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford was only a minor dent to progress but Fernando Torres’ infamous miss destroyed the Spaniard’s frail confidence.

It started to go wrong in a fiery West London derby with QPR, Chelsea’s nine men put up a valiant fight but went down 1-0. This was followed by an even more damaging defeat as the Blue’s defence capitulated at home to Arsenal in a thrilling 5-3 defeat.  Villas-Boas’ frustration was clearly visible and from then on questions about his job were never far away. Perhaps AVB’s endearing honesty in interviews counted against him as he faced repeated questions over his job. A public falling out with media darling Frank Lampard showed the fractious dressing room’s disapproval with Mourinho’s former protégé.

The final straw came in Naples as Villas-Boas dropped Essien, Cole and Lampard to the bench as a way to assert his dwindling authority. Despite going ahead they lost 3-1 and his fate was sealed. The man who used to forensically pick apart opposing teams for Chelsea had been chewed up and spat out by the club. He leaves with a healthy compensation package and will hopefully return to management sooner rather than later. He is clearly a talented man and will learn from his time at Stamford Bridge.

As for Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo has been given the chance to salvage a season which could yet prove fruitful. After all they are still in the FA Cup, they have a chance of overcoming Napoli in the Champions league and could yet finish fourth. Whatever happens between now and May, the summer must bring massive upheaval to the squad if Chelsea are to move forward once more.