Stamford Bridge set for busy summer.
Chelsea’s senior players Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda likely to go in Andre Villas-Boas clearout
Andre Villas-Boas will be allowed to clear-out Chelsea’s ‘old guard’ in the summer and replace them with, according to one well-placed source, “a new, young team”, if he survives this season.
Roman Abramovich is understood to be furious at Chelsea’s run of results and is demanding a dramatic turnaround, starting with Saturday’s fifth-round FA Cup game at home to Birmingham City and, crucially, Tuesday’s Champions League tie away to Napoli.
The billionaire communicated his annoyance in a further round of discussions with advisers on Thursday.
However, the owner’s anger is aimed at everyone at Chelsea, not just the manager, after a run of results that has seen the club slip to fifth in the Premier League and struggle for form. “He’s not happy with any coach who has lost games,” the source said.
“But he is not happy with the players either. Some players are supporting him [Villas-Boas] but the old boys are on their way out.”
Among those most under threat are Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda, with the Chelsea ‘project’ being undertaken by Villas-Boas representing a drive to reduce the average age of the squad and recruit players who are hungry for success.
Lucas Moura, the 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder who is being coveted by several leading European clubs, represents the type of talent that Villas-Boas is targeting.
If Roman Abramovich was hoping for a better performance from his Chelsea side whilst on FA Cup duty against Birmingham City, then he would have been sorely disappointed. Andre Villas-Boas appears to still have the support of the Blues owner but patience is wearing thin with the ‘old guard’ although in their defence none of the three men named by this source started the game at Stamford Bridge today.
Abramovich sacked Carlo Ancelotti after he could only secure a second place spot in his second season, after completing the domestic double in his first team at the West London club, so one wonders what the Russian must be making of Chelsea’s average start to life under Andre Villas-Boas.
Chelsea are some 17 points off top spot after 25 games and could well miss out on a top four finish all together, something that hasn’t happened in the past nine seasons.
The former FC Porto boss is clearly looking to the future and has seen the likes of Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge arguably becoming the only bright sparks of a frustrating campaign and Didier Drogba’s return from the African Nations Cup will heap more pressure on faltering striker Fernando Torres but could help give the Blues a more clinical edge up front but time is of the essence and Villas-Boas will hope that a good performance against Napoli will appease Abramovich.