It has become a worrying trend this season. Roberto Mancini got the ball rolling a couple weeks back when he took the blame for Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat against Everton.
Now it would seem that both Alan Pardew and Andre Villas-Boas have hopped on the bandwagon in the hope of an immediate response from their respective sides having admitted being at fault for Newcastle and Chelsea’s defeats this weekend.
For Pardew it was a case of admitting that he had got his tactics wrong in Newcastle’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
But for Villas-Boas there was more than a hint of foreboding in his admittance that he had got it wrong as Chelsea put in ‘the worst’ performance under the 34-year-old in their 2-0 defeat against Everton.
At 1-0 down Chelsea failed to muster anything like the type of response expected of a side with that much talent at their disposal.
Steven Pienaar’s early effort meant that the Blues needed to demonstrate some fighting spirit but were unable to muster anything of the sort – in fact you have to go back to 2009 and Carlo Ancelotti’s time in charge to find the last time Chelsea went on to win from a losing position on the road.
For all Everton’s verve in attack and the rocking stands that helped send Manchester City packing without a point to add to their cause, Chelsea lacked the bloody minded determination to pull something out of the fire on Merseyside - even Villas-Boas admitted his side lacked ‘danger’ in attack.
All the while this was going on Arsenal, seemingly Chelsea’s chief rivals for the fourth and final top four spot in the Premier League, fought back from 1-0 down at Sunderland to claim the most precious of 2-1 wins lifted them above Chelsea and into the top four for the first time this season.
It is only what Chelsea’s run of two wins in their last ten Premier League games deserves.
Inevitably, that lacklustre performance has given rise to stories of player unrest, with fuel added to the already ablaze fire that all is not well in west London after owner Roman Abramovich and Villas-Boas hauled the players into training on Sunday, a scheduled rest day.
Villas-Boas’s position had been believed to be safe, for now, even if becoming a Chelsea manager under Roman Abramovich has made a game of Russian roulette look like a walk in the park.
Both owner and manager have maintained that the Russian’s presence at training is normal, and that planning for next season, although should Chelsea miss out on Champions League football that assertion will be sorely tested.
General consensus remains that Abramovich would not spend a reported £28 million (according to the club’s latest accounts) on sacking Ancelotti and hiring Villas-Boas only to get rid of him after a transitional season.
Villas-Boas’ was charged with revamping an ailing squad, and he continues to work on that, albeit while struggling consolidate that overhaul with a challenge at the top of the table.
If poor results are not acceptable they are certainly understandable, but alarm bells will be ringing in the upper echelons of Chelsea’s hierarchy after a weekend where it was not only the result but the performance and effort of Villas-Boas and his players was thrown into doubt. They must come out fighting, and soon, for the good of their manager.
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