Normally, I wouldn’t condone a team firing its manager during his first season. I think there’s something to be said for continuity and stability within an organization. We’ve seen recent evidence (the team that won the Super Bowl) of what such core values can offer in terms of success.
So it would be understandable to think I might be astonished that Chelsea fired Luis Felipe Scolari today – two days after a scoreless home draw with promoted club Hull City; which followed a loss to Liverpool. Had Chelsea won both games, they would be one point behind leaders Manchester United right now – handicapped only by the fact that they have already played United twice, losing the latter meeting 3-0 last month.
From the Soccernet story, this was part of Chelsea’s statement on Scolari’s dismissal:
I bolded what I feel is the key part here. Chelsea’s next league match is Feb. 21 at Aston Villa. Villa stand in third in the Premier League – two points ahead of Chelsea. Four days later, Chelsea hosts Juventus in the first leg of a Champions League round of 16 tie.
The timing factor is why I understand the decision. Look, I don’t know how much of a difference it’s going to make. Can caretaker manager Ray Wilkins get the most out of Didier Drogba? Can Wilkins figure out the best way to use Mikel so he isn’t useless driftwood on the field? Will Chelsea get any kind of “new manager bump” as many teams seem to get?
For Chelsea, who believe themselves to be one of the world’s top clubs and who were barely beaten out for the Champions League last year and have finished at least second in each of the last five Premier League seasons – the time to answer the above questions isn’t two weeks from now or in the offseason. Chelsea’s match at Villa is a must-win. Basically, the club is putting all its chips in the middle now and hoping someone with pocket Aces doesn’t call and leave them bankrupt. If the true mentality of the club is to win as many trophies this year as possible, and they’re still alive in the league, FA Cup, and Europe, then I understand making the move now.
The fact is, while Scolari lost just 4 games in the league, those four were to Arsenal (once); Manchester United (once) and Liverpool (twice). Scolari was 0-4-1 against the rest of the “Big 4.” Course, his club did beat Villa, 2-0, earlier this season.
But Chelsea has made their gamble, and I can’t totally blame them. The rest of the season will tell us if it worked or not.
PS: And how’d you like to be Tony Adams today? You don’t win in your last 9 matches at Portsmouth, get fired, and even on the day you’re canned, you lose again – this time in the battle for headlines.