In today’s Route One Football, Brian included a link to a SoccerLens story about player power and the problems it has caused in the Chelsea dressing room. Good news for the Blues, though: former assistant Ray Wilkins has the solution! In this conversation with the Daily Mail, Wilkins revealed that Chelsea’s problem could be solved if under-fire manager André Villas-Boas would only follow the example of…
…you guessed it – Sir Alex Ferguson. Wilkins specifically cites the way the Manchester United manager has successfully handled his relationships with “the likes of Scholes and Giggs and Ferdinand…not only the playing time but also as human beings.” That’s right, Wilkins is suggesting that AVB emulate one of the most successful managers in EPL history when dealing with veterans John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, and Michael Essien. How silly of young Andre. Why didn’t he think of that?!
There are one or two small differences that Wilkins appears to have overlooked:
1. Ferguson has been at United for over 25 years, and Scholes and Giggs have been with the club since 1991 and 1987, respectively. Fergie has literally overseen their growth from awkward teenagers into two of the most decorated players in Premier League history. On the other hand, AVB probably did not even meet his veterans until this summer. Not exactly the same personal or professional ties.
2. Manchester United is Ferguson’s show, and nearly every decision about the squad goes through him. Chelsea could not be more different. The manager is a figurehead responsible for results, while Uncle Roman and his stable of supermodels make decisions from the decks of Eclipse.
3. Ferguson is using his vets as long as possible, in roles that are clearly still effective – well, maybe not Rio – within his system. AVB is implementing his own system and is looking to clear out the old guard. Of course the old guys aren’t going to like it. While Cole and Essien may still have some usefulness, Lampard and Terry just aren’t the same as they used to be. Sure that fat ass can still bang in a penalty every once in awhile, and EBJT may be a good on-the-pitch leader, but they just don’t fit what AVB is trying to do.
4. Terry and Cole are terrible human beings and are probably attempting to seduce AVB’s wife as we speak.
Now, there is always another option. Wilkins goes on to question the squad selection in Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the Champions League, particularly the defense, which just so happened to be one of his areas of responsibility during his time with the club. Could it be that he is not actually offering AVB any advice at all? Could he just be throwing his hat in the ring should AVB’s contract be unceremoniously “not renewed”, as Wilkins’ was just over a year ago? Only time will tell. For now, our judgment on Ray Ray’s sanity comes down to this.
He’s interested in the Wolves job? Lock him up.