Football

Managers must expect Premier League pressure-cooker

Villas-Boas is under increasing scrutiny. (©GettyImages)
Villas-Boas is under increasing scrutiny. (©GettyImages).

When Andre Villas-Boas was prised from Porto last summer, arriving in west London at a cost of £13.5million in compensation and charged with initiating a radical overhaul of an ageing Chelsea squad, he could hardly of expected an easy ride.

The Portuguese tactician finds himself under intense media scrutiny after a difficult first seven months in charge at Stamford Bridge, which has garnered just four wins from the Blues' last 14 matches prior to last weekend's 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.

The Trotters win has failed to hush the critics however, with Roman Abramovich's quickly eroding faith in the 34-year-old's ability meaning Villas-Boas' future is seemingly anything but secure. No surprise then, that the sight of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho in London earlier this week has only added to the uncertainty currently facing him.

Ahead of the Blues' Premier League trip to the Hawthorns this weekend, West Brom manager Roy Hodgson jumped to the defence of his opposite number, after claiming that the criticism aimed at Villas-Boas goes with the territory for Chelsea managers - a club which has been overseen by four permanent managers in as many years.

"This is all just part of the football world," he explained. "There is speculation that goes on and detailed examination of all the people working at the highest level.

"I guess he knew, when he was moving from Porto to Chelsea for the enormous salary and enormous ambitions from the owner, that it wasn't going to be an easy job. That's basically how it's turned out."

Hodgson is no stranger to adversity after a turbulent six months in charge at Liverpool. Appointed on 1 July 2010 as a replacement for Rafa Benitez, the 64-year-old was dogged throughout his time at Anfield by the suggestion that the job was too big for him.

After 31 games in charge - the shortest reign in Liverpool history - Hodgson left the club by mutual consent on 8 January 2011, with Kenny Dalglish announced as his replacement before joining the Baggies a little over a month later.

"Nothing surprises me [anymore]," he continued. "If you look back there have been an awful lot of managers at Chelsea in the last eight or nine years.

"And if you take Jose Mourinho, who was there for four or five years, out of the picture there has been an awful lot of turnover in terms of coaches.

"So, I suppose you can't be surprised if you go to that club as a coach that you come under enormous scrutiny every time your team is not flying away from the rest at the top of the table."

Chelsea currently sit outside the Premier League's top four on goal difference, and the threat of failing to make the Champions League for the first time in the Abramovich era is quickly becoming a reality.

Villas-Boas' men find themselves 3-1 down from their last-16 first leg clash with Napoli, and face a difficult task in overturning the deficit, particularly with their increasingly leaky defence against one of the most potent strike-forces in Europe.

Arsene Wenger is another manager who has found himself in the media spotlight, after his Arsenal side were effectively condemned to a seventh consecutive season without a trophy after they were thrashed 4-0 in the Champions League against AC Milan, and were then knocked out of the FA Cup by Sunderland just days later.

Despite having been at the helm in north London for over 16 years, the Frenchman has been forced to consistently bat away criticism as the growing unrest at the Emirates continues.

The difference between Wenger's situation compared to Villas-Boas' at Chelsea and Hodgson's at Liverpool, is that he has the universal approval within the dressing room - support that is echoed right the way through the club, up to the very top.

It just proves that in today's world of modern-day football that nobody is untouchable, and everyone should be looking over their shoulders.

Chelsea arrive at the Hawthorns having won just one of their last six games in all competitions, while West Brom are back in form after thrashing Wolves and Sunderland.

The game will also see Roberto Di Matteo, another former Premier League casualty who is now right-hand man to Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge, return to his old club a year after he was sacked.

The managerial merry-go-round continues.

Topics:
Football
Premier League

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