Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Premiership Axe Has Swung

December is upon us and so is the traditional start of the culling of Premiership managers. As the ownership structure has changed so has the short termism of thinking throughout football as a whole with few managers on average lasting more than two seasons.

One has gone and two other Premiership managers in particular have reason to feel threatened in Steve Kean and Andre Villas Boas with probably only Sir Alex, Kenny Dalglish, Harry Redknapp, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and Tony Pulis feeling genuinely secure. The likes of Owen Coyle and Martin Jol will also be feeling a distinct lack of seasonal cheer unless results improve.

For Steve Bruce, his position had become untenable as the fans had turned badly against him with Saturday's latest debacle against Wigan (who he ironically left in the lurch) a bridge too far. Whilst chairman all too easily turn to pressing the eject button, it cannot really be said that Bruce hasn't had the support in either terms of time nor money and the way he has handled the bizarre situation with Asamoah Gyan left much to be desired.

One major issue that has perennially vexed this blog about Bruce is his obsession with fawning to Sir Alex Ferguson in the lead up to matches against ManYoo. Other ex ManYoo players such as Keane or Hughes have been respectful without doing a disservice to their own clubs. In the lead up to any ManYoo fixture it is the norm to hear Bruce foaming at the mouth about Fergie's greatness and putting your mortgage on ManYoo to win the fixture is a no brainer. He has also been ready to pick up their cast offs such as O'Shea and Wes Orange. It's almost as if he felt that by assimilating himself with Ferguson he could gain similar stature.

Whilst it is never nice to see someone lose their job, it seems that few will shed a tear for Bruce's leaving and especially not the faithful on Wearside.

Steve Kean has it seemed been a dead man walking since he first got the job. Venkys made a gross error sacking Sam Allardyce and they have compounded it with little investment and seemingly learning nothing about running a football club. Kean has been the vessel for the fans' ire and with Blackburn rooted in the relegation mire it seems simply a matter of time.

Chelsea face yet another quandary of their own making. The premature sacking of Ancelotti was followed up with a huge compensation payment for the initially very successful but very young Andre Villas Boas.

Several months on and Chelsea are struggling and the knives are already out for AVB in the press. It is hard to pin down what the true problem is at Chelsea and the truth is that there are many issues that need to be resolved.

Chelsea do not possess either a first team nor a squad to truly compete with the two Manchester clubs. That being said they should be good enough to comfortably finish third. Looking at their form and the table it is far from clear that they will do so.

AVB has inherited a powerful dressing room that is physically in decline. Terry, Drogba and Lampard are way past their best and Cech has never been the same since his dreadful head injury. All four are sucking huge wages from Chelsea however and hampering the finances team building for the future whilst at the same time contributing less and less to the cause on the pitch.

AVB has also inherited two expensive purchases in David Luiz and Fernando Torres who were both bought in January. Both are hugely talented players yet AVB seems neither to trust them nor know how to obtain the best from either player.

The likes of Mikel, Malouda, Bosingwa, Alex and Kalou are simply not good enough for a club aspiring to win Championships and Champions Leagues and whilst the likes of Mata and Sturridge have made excellent fresh contributions, there is not enough consistent support from those around them.

Chelsea's squad has been allowed to decline because of the short term merry-go-round (no manager has been around long enough to focus on re-building due to the short term need for results). Manchester City would have paid nigh on 40M for John Terry three seasons ago and there have been several opportunities to sell Drogba.

This blog is not suggesting that either has been anything but a magnificent servant to the club but over 50M in transfer fees received and probably another 10-20M in wages saved would have allowed significant rebuilding and possibly allowed Chelsea to compete for the likes of Ashley Young and Phil Jones. To do that a manager needs to be in place for several years and for that reason AVB should be persevered with - Chelsea's problems are of the board's doing and not his, it is time to plan for the future and not for the now.

Only one team can win the league, only three more can reach the holy ground of the Champions League and of the remaining sixteen sides, only a lucky thirteen can stay up. It is mathematically impossible for all the clubs to achieve their minimum targets for a season especially given the unrealistic ambitions of many chairmen. The likes of Bolton and Blackburn are nowadays small clubs, clubs such as Sunderland are big only in their own mind and Chelsea have been the architects of their own downfall - No Nonsense.