Where do Chelsea go from here?

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After today's announcement that Andre Villas-Boas has been sacked from his position at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are now left looking for their eighth manager in as many years.

The news may not seem all that surprising given the intense pressure and media scrutiny the 34-year-old Portuguese tactician has been under, after a poor run of form that has yielded just one win in the Blues' last seven matches.

Yesterday's 1-0 defeat at the hands of West Brom proved to be the final nail in Villas-Boas' coffin, after the characteristically trigger-happy Roman Abramovich wielded the axe once again, appointing Chelsea assistant and fans' favourite Roberto Di Matteo as interim manager until the end of the season.

"Andre Villa-Boas has parted company with Chelsea Football Club today," read a statement on the club's official website. "The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early.

"Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.

"The club is still competing in the latter stages of the Uefa Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts.

"With that in mind we felt our only option was to make a change at this time. With immediate effect Roberto Di Matteo has been appointed first team coach on an interim basis until the end of the season."

But where does this latest development leave Chelsea? It certainly doesn't add any weight to the suggestion that long-term appointments are a sign of the future.

The arrival of Villas-Boas last summer was construed as an extraordinary risk by the powers that be at Chelsea - justified as the start of a west London revolution.

The former scout for Jose Mourinho at Porto, then Chelsea and Inter Milan, was just 33 years old and had only 21 months of managerial experience when he was thrust, rather naively into the Premier League spotlight.

Eights months of that was with lowly Academia in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, prior to Villas-Boas' quadruple-winning season with Porto, further adding to his reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in Europe.

However, it quickly became apparent that his inability to get either the big-name Chelsea players, or the collective side playing the attractive, winning brand of football he had been tasked with, underlined just how much of a gamble it was.

It is understood that former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was approached to potentially replace Villas-Boas until the end of the season, but the Spaniard wanted a longer contract, meaning Chelsea will now be forced to assess all of their options between now and the summer.

Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Fabio Capello are all likely to be in contention for the role, but for the time being the onus is on Di Matteo to make an instant impression in the Blues' forthcoming fixtures against Birmingham in the FA Cup, and Napoli in the Champions League in order to salvage anything from the 2011-12 campaign.

Villas-Boas signed a three-year contract at Stamford Bridge last summer, and was charged with overseeing a process of change, both in terms of the team's personnel and playing style.

It is something that needed, and still does need, an inevitable amount of time to achieve. Now Chelsea are back to square one.

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