This time last year Chelsea were entering the season on a high as the reigning Premier League champions with then manager Carlo Ancelotti the toast of Stamford Bridge after winning the domestic Double in his first season in England football.
Fast forward 12 months and Ancelotti is no longer the darling of Chelsea, in fact he is know where to be seen as the Italian discovered first hand how ruthless football and in particular Roman Abramovich can be when results don’t go your way.
A rare trophy less campaign which included their worst run of form in 15 years resulted in Ancelotti paying with his job and left Chelsea looking for their 6th manager in 7 years.
Paper Columns and Rumour mills were filled with theories as to the spectacular slump with injuries, the loss of form of experienced players not to mention the sacking of assistant manager Ray Wilkins all being put forward as explanations.
Whatever the cause of the demise, club captain John Terry was confident there would be no repeat this year, speaking at the official launch of the 20th premier league the England international said “If ever that does arise again, we can snap out of that really quickly,”
“The sign of a true champion is to bounce back if we do suffer a defeat and get together and pull together. I think we realised where we went wrong. That stays private between us. You’re going to lose games throughout the season – it’s how you deal with it.”
The appointment of Andrea Villas Boas or AVB has he has become known in the media has a little bit of history repeating about it; the former Porto boss is a protégé of former blues manager Jose Mourinho and likes the special one arrives on the back of a treble winning season with the Portuguese outfit albeit without the prized Champions league trophy.
AVB has looked very comfortable and assured since taking charge in London and has resisted opening the cheque book thus far, preferring to assess his squad.
The only additions to the squad so far with Thibaut Courtois, who will spend the next 12 months on loan at Atletico Madrid and Oriol Romeu, although 6ft 4” striking sensation Roman Lukaku’s looks set to be next after Chelsea agreed a fee for his services while Luka Modric may yet join them.
Departure wise, Chelsea have offloaded Yuri Zhirkov to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala while Jacopo Sala, Jeffrey Bruma, Michael Mancienne has jumped shipped to join Frank Arnesen at Hamburg.
Of the summer signings Romeu, defensive midfielder signed from Barcelona, looks to be a good prospect and the starlet could feature prominently this season with Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien’s injury curse rearing its ugly head again.
Ancelotti’s legacy, the January signings of Fernando Torres and David Luiz will be like new signings and with the duo now settled into life at Stamford Bridge much will be expected of them.
AVB has the luxury of a very talented forward line and will have his work cut finding starting berths for Torres, Didier Drogba, Nicholas Anelka and the returning Daniel Sturridge not to mention Lukaku.
Much was made of the fact that Drogba and Torres didn’t look comfortable as a partnership last season and having forked out 50 million for Torres, Abramovich will be keen for him to lead the side, whether AVB agrees or not could be vital to a successful relationship.
The Stamford Bridge academy could being to bear fruit this season with the highly rated midfield duo of Irelands Conor Clifford and 18 year old Josh McEachran likely to get more opportunities in midfield under the new manager.
The Champions League trophy remains the Holy Grail for Abramovich and will be ultimately how Villas Boas will be judged you would hope that there will be a period of grace for the 33 year old to get to grips with English football.
The rise of Manchester City not to mention the evergreen management approach of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford means that a sustained tilt at the title could prove difficult for a man who is a relative novice at management level and although Chelsea will be there or there about’s it might take 12 months for AVB to get to grips with English football as well as the mind games of Sir Alex.