Grading the new Chelsea manager’s first month on the job
Okay, so it’s not really fair to grade a coach after barely a month at a new job. Especially since there haven’t even been any regular season games yet. But I’ve got to blog about something while I wait out the remaining twelve hours or so before Chelsea kicks off against Malaysia XI, so it might as well be evaluating AVB!
I liked Carlo Ancelotti. I thought the club treated him poorly and sacked him prematurely. So whoever succeeded him would have to win me over as a fan. So far, AVB has done just that. He has brought new energy to the club, seems to have a good plan in place, and has hit the ground running to implement it (not that he had much choice, with little prep time before the players returned). As a detail-oriented guy, I can appreciate his apparent detail-orientedness. For example, check out this snooping from the Daily Mail, which shows some of AVB’s clipboard diagrams from a recent training session.
I also appreciate the way AVB has tempered the hoopla surrounding his Porto success and megabucks transfer to Chelsea with appropriate humility. He fully realizes that his Porto trophies got him to Chelsea, but staying past one season in London will require fast results. Fair or not, that is the scenario. But AVB seems up to the challenge.
AVB has also made smart personnel decisions, like promoting Steve Holland and Michael Emenalo (to assistant first team coach and technical director respectively), and choosing recent West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo as his assistant coach. Di Matteo was a pleasant surprise of a choice. My impression of him last year prior to his West Brom canning was that he is an intelligent, mature guy with a lot of managerial potential. Player-wise, AVB has taken a careful approach, not getting sucked into the transfer market madness, or trying to flex too much managerial muscle with sweeping changes.
Ancelotti was a good manager, but perhaps his laidback style lulled the largely veteran team to sleep for much of last season. There is a renewed energy about the team since Villas-Boas’ arrival. Sometimes, even when the previous coach is well liked, teams need a leadership change to recharge the batteries. So far, the team is reacting well to AVB’s training. The players are fired up for the new season. They don’t seem put off by AVB’s youthfulness either. In fact, John Terry’s apparently been inspired by AVB to become a Chelsea manager himself someday.
Here’s hoping Chelsea’s perceived reinvigoration translates into some dynamic soccer in Malaysia tomorrow!
What do you think – how is Andre Villas-Boas doing so far?