The message to new football managers nowadays is simple: deliver results immediately or expect to face the chop.
In Scolari’s six month spell at Chelsea, we saw a team that were desperately inconsistent, almost unrecognisable from the battling side that Jose Mourinho led to two consecutive league titles three years ago.
They started the season full of promise, brushing aside Portsmouth 4-0 on the opening weekend of the league. The London club also disposed of Middlesborough and Sunderland in emphatic fashion, thrashing them both 5-0. But Scolari failed catastrophically when it came to fixtures against the top four. Chelsea only managed a miserable point in five encounters with the big clubs, losing most recently 3-0 and 2-0 to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
And the 0-0 draw at home to Hull on Saturday proved to be the final straw for Roman Abramovic. Chelsea were misfiring and their recent run of poor results has led to a drop to fourth place, two points behind the relentlessly resilient Aston Villa.
The Juventus match on February 25 is more important than simply securing a place in the Champions League quarter finals. Claudio Ranieri, now Juve’s Manager, was popular with Chelsea fans but was fired by Abramovic a year after the Russian’s takeover at the club. Chelsea’s owner won’t want to be shown up by the man that he fired back in 2004.
Looking at the bigger picture, Scolari’s sacking shows what thin ice top-level football managers skate on. Chelsea haven’t won a trophy since the FA Cup under Mourinho in 2007. That’s one season without a trophy so far. Last year under Avram Grant, Chelsea were three points off the league title and a successful penalty kick away from the Champions League. But Grant was still fired.
Sam Allardyce’s time at Newcastle and Paul Ince’s spell at Blackburn Rovers are further examples of managers who failed to deliver and ultimately lost out against the ticking clock. Today, new managers are rarely given time to experiment with their squad and implement new ideas.
A lot is at stake in modern football – if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League next season, they will be around Ã‚Â£40 million worse off – so it is understandable where the impatience stems from. However the owners of clubs must appreciate that there is rarely a quick-fix to problems in modern football.
So it remains to be seen whether Guus Hiddink’s new role at Chelsea will be extended beyond the end of the season. If he doesn’t bring a trophy to Stamford Bridge, sadly we can expect Abramovic to once again look elsewhere.
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