Andre Villas-Boas was named Premier League manager of the month today, so let's look back a year to the events surrounding his departure
From time to time I like to dig through the archives to see what we had to say about certain things. It's fun, and it usually provides a few laughs when reading through the articles and the comments that follow. With all of the drama surrounding the club at the moment due to the remarks made by Rafa Benitez on Wednesday, I decided to dig through the archives to refresh my memory about managerial changes in the past. I found it amusing, and I thought I'd take the time to share my amusement with you.
We're going to go back to about one year ago, when Andre Villas-Boas was nearing the end of his Chelsea tenure. We'll start our look back with the first day of February, 2012. Chelsea had done nothing to strengthen the first team squad in the transfer window, and were coming off of a disappointing result against Swansea. Villas-Boas was quickly becoming the scapegoat for the under-performing squad, and Graham looked at a few of the criticisms that weren't warranted.
Later that week, AVB had a few comments about the long term project that he was undertaking at Chelsea. It's a bit ironic that we'd go on to win our first European Championship just over three months after these remarks were made, but in general I still find myself agreeing with what he had to say.
Chelsea would disappoint when they traveled to Everton, losing 2-0 and generally looking terrible. Jack ran a poll asking if readers believed AVB would be getting the sack in the very near future, although the poll itself appears to have spontaneously combusted when the format change occurred. Still, the comments give us some insight into what the readers were thinking at the time, and those types of things are fun to look back on a year later.
Speculation about the future of AVB was mounting, but he seemed less than concerned. He claimed to have the full backing of Roman Abramovich, who still believed in what he was doing. That sounds eerily familiar to what our current manager had to say yesterday, doesn't it?
The first leg at Napoli happened, and real doubts about whether or not AVB would last the week began to come to the surface. I shared a few thoughts about sacking the manager mid-season, and attached a poll to see where we stood at the time. Amazingly, 85% of the community were against sacking the manager, something that really surprised me when i re-read this particular article.
The obvious argument to keeping Villas-Boas around was the long term project that he was trying to implement. Graham wrote about 'the project' and whether or not AVB was even necessary in order to carry out that plan.
Our next match had a better result, as Chelsea defeated Bolton by a 3-0 score. AVB was safe, but Graham decided to write about what could have been. For what it's worth, I have little trouble picturing Branislav Ivanovic as a Wookie.
One thing we've been discussing of late is the 4-2-3-1 and whether Chelsea should be looking at other formations. If you don't recall why we initially switched to this setup just over a year ago, Villas-Boas had a few comments about it. In that same interview, he discussed Manchester city and why they were getting results.
As we got to the end of February, the pressure on the manager was really getting intense. The home leg against Napoli was coming, and there were reports that AVB would be relieved of his managerial duties if Chelsea did not manage to advance. Just after those rumors began, we were all trolled by Jose Mourinho.
The beginning of March saw the club return from an international break, and a smoke bomb being set off in the changing area set off all sorts of commotion. That would soon be forgotten though, as a loss to West Brom started a fire of a different kind. AVB was sacked, and Roberto Di Matteo was named as the interim manager of the club. The move also opened up an assistant coaching vacancy, one which was filled by Eddie Newton.
Remember that piece we linked about what would have happened had we lost to Bolton? It did, and Bran as a Wookie finally came to be.
Graham shared a few thoughts on the move, and then went on to look at what exactly went wrong. He wasn't the only one to share his thoughts though, as both Devin and Tim reflected on the move. Shortly into the Di Matteo era, we asked you how you felt. I was fairly surprised looking back on that poll now, and it probably would have looked massively different given the benefit of hindsight.
With the current Rafa Benitez situation, it's certainly fun to look back and see how the events of a year ago unfolded. I really enjoyed doing this, and hopefully you all enjoyed looking back on it as much as I did. if so, it's something we might try to do more of in the future.