Andre Villas-Boas returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time this week since his sacking 15 months ago, the now Spurs manager hopes Chelsea fans will be “respectful” and we should show some sympathy to one of many former bosses.
In the summer of 2011, AVB introduced himself to European football taking his FC Porto side to an unprecedented undefeated treble, beating fellow Portuguese side Braga in the Europa League final, catching the eye of Roman Abramovich.
The way FC Porto had swept all before them had convinced the Russian billionaire to spend almost €15 million in compensation to bring AVB to Chelsea, before later sacking him in March 2012.
When AVB arrived, all talk was about a year of transition at Chelsea, with the older generation such as Frank Lampard, Ashely Cole and even captain John Terry being phased out, with the new young core, with players such as David Luiz and Juan Mata taking the reins.
Things quickly fell apart, with the inexperienced AVB making numerous mistakes, most famously denying the players the opportunity to throw a leaving party for the outgoing Nicolas Anelka, this was perhaps the moment he lost the squad for good.
Coupled with mistakes off the pitch, things on the pitch weren’t much better either, with Chelsea never challenging the Manchester clubs who would take the title race right down to the very last second of the season.
AVB’s win ratio at Chelsea was just 48%, the lowest of any manager in the Abramovich era. The majority of fans had already given up on him, and following defeat at West Brom, Abramovich did too.
The demise of AVB at Stamford Bridge however, may not have all been his own doing, and this is why I believe he should be shown some sympathy from the Chelsea fans.
AVB was given a clear remit of taking the older players out, to bring new ones in, OK the way in which he went about this was wrong, but he was following orders from above. You can see in the way he has dealt with Brad Friedel’s move to the bench to make way for Hugo Lloris, as evidence he has learnt from that mistake.
Following his sacking, AVB claimed Abramovich “quit on him”, and has spoken about a lack of support from Chelsea’s hierarchy while he was following the instructions given to him from above. He was Abramovich’s puppet, and he wasn’t afraid to cut the strings once the going got tough.
Before the start of this season, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy decided to replace fan favourite Harry Redknapp with the failed Chelsea manager, much to the dismay of some supporters, but with Spurs on track to set a record points total and potential qualification for the Champions League, the club appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
On occasions watching Spurs this season, they have played some brilliant football, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Mousa Dembele and Lewis Holtby all impressing, but there have of course been some poor showings as well.
Some Chelsea fans believed AVB was clueless, but his time at Tottenham has showed this young manager has a long and probably successful future in the game. There has even been rumours of a Real Madrid this summer.
Wednesday’s fixture will be a chance for AVB to show Abramovich that he was wrong to “quit on him” and show Chelsea fans that he is a good coach capable of winning big games.
While I’m not expecting a Rafa Benitez style welcome for the former boss, I do hope that AVB is offered some sympathy for his plight.
Disagree and still think AVB is clueless? Tweet me your thoughts @DeanMears