Chelsea and Aston Villa can't rest on previous success

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Following Chelsea’s recent problems and the massive hole they have dug for themselves, lots of critics have been examining what has gone wrong.  

Jose Mourinho has taken the brunt of criticism and perhaps deservedly so. Just this season, he has publicly attacked his players, medical staff and several Premier League referees.

However, the blame is not his alone. His team have to take some of the blame. They were world beaters in May, now we are in November. No team’s decline has ever been so dramatic. Last year’s top players - Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and John Terry - have looked a shadow of their former selves.


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At the same time, Aston Villa are really struggling and it isn't too early to suggest they are staring relegation in the face.

Villa have never been relegated from the Premier League and were a regular top six club between 2007-10 during Martin O’Neill's tenure.

They played in the UEFA Cup, reached the semi-final of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup in 2010. After O’Neill’s surprise resignation, just five days before the start of the 2010-11 season, the Villans' decline was put in motion.

Although finishing ninth in the subsequent year, Villa have not recorded a top-half finish since.

The midlands club recently took the decision to relieve Tim Sherwood of his managerial duties and bring in former Lyon boss, Remi Garde.

The Frenchman arrives with a respectable reputation, but he is still relatively new to management with Lyon the only club on his CV.

This would suggest Garde is a risky choice as he will need to adapt very quickly to a new club, a different country and a team with a losing mentality.

Mourinho’s job is not much easier. He boasts a wealth of experience and success in different countries and won the league last season. However, he now faces the biggest test of his extraordinary career.

He is at a club he loves - with fans who adore him - nevertheless, he is under real pressure.

Chelsea sit in 15th and have conceded 22 goals already; only Sunderland, Bournemouth and Norwich have conceded more. The Blues only yielded 32 throughout all of last campaign.

So, where has it all gone wrong for these once great clubs?

Former Premier League defender, Danny Higginbotham suggests in his column for the Independent the key to Chelsea’s troubles rests in their tactics.

More specifically, Mourinho's side are set up to win a match 1-0 – just as they were last season. Higginbotham argues this team is set up to protect a lead, not attempt to claw back from a losing position.

“Part of the problem is that this group are just not acquainted with what it’s like to be losing a game in the way, for example, a Leicester, a Stoke or a West Bromwich will be,” he wrote.

Have other teams figured Chelsea out this season, or has Mourinho lost it? That question is certainly open to argument. Maybe it is a bit of both. Time will tell if the boss will be given the time to fix his mess.

Meanwhile, at Villa, no-one could have foreseen the terrible state they now find themselves in. Several managers have come in and tried to recreate O’Neill’s form, but all have failed.

Might it be a case of a job too big and a club too hung up on its glorious past? Villa have become a selling club over the last few seasons and that, above all, may be key to their demise.

They cannot assume they will avoid relegation just because they are Aston Villa. Big teams have fallen in the past and most have failed to reappear. Nottingham Forest is a fair example, they too have European success in their past, yet after relegation they are currently still playing in the Championship.

Massive days, weeks, months await these two huge clubs. Nervous times for their supporters and indeed, all of football. If Villa can slip out of the top division after 28 consecutive seasons, it could happen to any club.

Aston Villa
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