"There are no plans at Chelsea, it's results that rule. There are times in football when it's easier to replace the coach. But when you embrace a project you believe in people. There was a commitment from Abramovich and his word was given. Yet there was a premature departure."
Those were the words of Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas Boas this week speaking in relation to his departure from Stamford Bridge after just nine months in charge last season.
Since then Villas Boas has come back into the English game being given the opportunity to take over the reign of Harry Redknapp at Tottenham and so far, so good for the Portuguese manager. His situation at Spurs is secure and the long-term plan he speaks of is clearly better understood by Daniel Levy than it ever was by his previous Russian employer.
Spurs currently sit in third position in the Premier League; ahead of Chelsea with the likes of French keeper Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey also being brought in to the club to help him with his vision. Meanwhile Chelsea have sacked yet another manager; AVB’s replacement Roberto Di Matteo is gone.
Yet if Chelsea had stuck by their long term plan could things have transpired oh so differently. Sure AVB may have eventually proved himself and got his team working together in a coherent system by now and Chelsea fans would not be dealt the indignity of Rafa Benitez as the man at the helm but would it have come at the expense of their Champions League triumph.
While of course there was every chance AVB could also have led Chelsea to European glory it seems unlikely when you hear of the dressing room disquiet under the Portuguese gaffer; in fact his dismissal and the arrival of a former Chelsea boy himself in the form of RDM was perhaps one of the catalysts for their great European performances.
Everyone was in agreement that the team spirit of the side was one of the key factors behind the successes against Barcelona and Bayern Munich; that and the rejuvenated form of Didier Drogba under the Italian.
While they may have been in better shape by now if Abramovich had stuck with AVB there is a real chance they would never have even made it to the Allianz Arena last season.
Which begs the question what would Chelsea prefer? Solidity now or the current managerial problems and being off the pace in Europe, Premier League and now League Cup football. All they would have to exchange in this hypothetical and paranormal bartering process would be possibly the greatest night in the clubs history.
It is a no-brainer really. While solidity is great football is really about those moments when you can say ‘where were you when’ and I doubt any Chelsea fan would swap last season’s Champions League triumph for more solidity at the club at this moment.
Would you give up the Champions League victory for anything?
image: © Julian Mason