Graeme Bailey feels Andre Villas-Boas should be wary of messing with club legends
Last Updated: 27/02/12 1:59pm
Andre Villas-Boas has drawn many comparisons during his fledgling managerial career.
From the Chelsea great that was Jose Mourinho to the less successful incumbents of the Stamford Bridge managerial hot-set such as Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Villas-Boas, though, is now venturing into previously uncharted waters for any Chelsea coach of recent times as he is very much sailing into the wind of popular opinion by taking on some of the club's most iconic figures.
Last week, Villas-Boas dropped Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien after 'clear-the-air' talks, which ironically seemed to have the opposite effect.
As a result the trio found themselves on the bench for their biggest game of the season at Napoli. A 3-1 defeat followed and the knives were well and truly out.
A reported phone call from owner Roman Abramovich later, and all three were back in the line-up for the weekend. A 3-0 victory over Bolton followed and AVB was quickly singing the praises of all involved, particularly Lampard, who scored.
But this win only added to the grapevine of rumour and intrigue over AVB. And yes, even Rafa Benitez is widely reported to have been approached by representatives close to Chelsea, as Abramovich seemingly remains poised with his finger firmly hovering over the eject button.
The whole AVB situation is now drawing comparisons to many tenures on their last legs, and the one which genuinely came to my mind was that of another Chelsea legend, Ruud Gullit at Newcastle.
Gullit arrived at St James' Park with a glittering reputation after being harshly dismissed at Chelsea.
But, just 12 months in, he was axed. This came after the public falling out with Rob Lee and then his dropping of Alan Shearer - AVB should take heed.
It is all very well being a strong manager, acting and picking the team you think is right, which may mean dropping a club stalwart.
However, if the ramifications are that you are just about the only person within a 50-mile radius of the club that agrees with that decision, you need to make sure it is the right one.
And that is where AVB, like Gullit, has come a cropper as his decision was seemingly purely motivated on a personal level.
Gullit lasted exactly 12 months in charge of Newcastle after finally admitting defeat in his ability to win over the locals.
Now if Villas-Boas can make it to the 12-month mark at Chelsea, that - at this moment - would arguably be his biggest achievement in football to date.
To make it through to the summer, Villas-Boas will need to get the Chelsea fans back on side - and he will not do that without the likes of Lampard and Cole backing him, as if nothing else he also needs to realise they are still amongst his finest players and not picking them will only alienate him further.
AVB may indeed have looked back at the man he succeeded in Carlo Ancelotti - much loved and respected by the players. But the results meant he was shown the door, so it really does remain to be seen what AVB has to offer in terms of defence of his position.
AVB, in theory, could yet pick up two trophies and a top-four finish this season - but the chances are he could be walking down the King's Road in May with his P45 rather than two medals in his pocket.