Arsene Wenger joins critics of Chelsea over Andre Villas-Boas sacking

 

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The Independent Online

Chelsea were today branded a "serious embarrassment" and managing them described as "hell" as the fallout from Andre Villas-Boas' sacking continued.

Roman Abramovich is searching for his eighth manager since buying the London club in 2003 after Villas-Boas was given his marching orders yesterday only eight months since his appointment.

The Portuguese's downfall was strikingly similar to that of Luiz Felipe Scolari, who also lost his job amid reports of a player revolt three years ago.

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are said to be top of Abramovich's managerial wishlist but Scolari had a stark warning for the man who ultimately replaces Villas-Boas.

"It will be hell for whoever succeeds him," he told a news conference in Brazil, where he now manages Palmeiras.

He added: "England has clubs like Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger has been for several years, yet has won only two or three championships.

"Chelsea's culture is very different, but this move is strange - although it's not so strange to me because of what I went through there.

"Some things are known, like the relations with the owner, who has the relationship with some players before the coach.

"Villas-Boas was a champion and he will continue to be.

"He needed to replace at least seven or eight players, even since I was there, but he failed."

League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan was just as scathing about Chelsea's latest decision to dispense with another manager.

"What's for sure is the club, despite unlimited wealth, haven't yet worked out how to build a successful football club," Bevan told Radio Five Live.

"Looking for what is an eighth manager in nine years is a serious embarrassment to the owner, the club, the fans and the league."

Assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo has been put in charge until the end of the season, although there have long been suggestions he is even less popular than Villas-Boas.

Bevan revealed how the Portuguese reacted his sacking, which came after training yesterday, with the news delivered in person by Abramovich.

"He was very disappointed, frustrated, saddened, but his thoughts were for the club, the fans and indeed Roberto Di Matteo, wishing him well for the rest of the season," Bevan said.

"He's obviously a man who played six years or so for the club and has got good managerial experience with West Brom in the Premier League."

Bevan claimed the frequent managerial changes at Stamford Bridge did not help Villas-Boas develop a relationship with his players.

"Players need to know that the manager's strategy and his job is not in question, there's a clear remit," he said.

"You get success if you get time, and stability will come from that. Otherwise it's very difficult for a manager like Andre to impose his philosophy and build a team."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said today: "All I can say is I feel sorry for Villas-Boas because I know him and I like him as a manager and as a man.

"I feel sorry for him and it's sad every time a manager loses his job because it's a job that demands a full commitment and I think he did that.

"I am sorry he was not given enough time to do his job."

He added: "You cannot say that it's an impossible job.

"Our job is difficult because we face multiple opinions every day and we need as well to have the strength to push our own opinions through, and many times despite big resistance.

"But I'm sure that Villas-Boas had the strength to do that but, when you're not given time, you have no chance."

Villas-Boas' side had won just three times in 12 league games and he had the lowest win percentage of any Chelsea manager since Glenn Hoddle.

Bevan added: "That might be the case. After only eight months, you can't build that sort of success. The club's still competing in the latter stages of the Champions League, the FA Cup and fighting for a top-four position. If you want success, you must look at the longer term."

Prior to Di Matteo's appointment as caretaker, speculation was rife Rafael Benitez had been approached to take charge for the rest of the season.

Reports suggested Benitez wanted a longer deal but his agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, has told Spanish news agency EFE: "He is open to discuss any important options at the moment. So far there is no offer from Chelsea.

"We've heard the rumours but they are not true - we have had no contact."

"It's a very difficult time for Rangers Football Club and the players and management. It's for their house to get sorted out.

"But I think in many ways it's better we all leave them to get sorted out, see where they are and then we can come to some decision."

PA

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