Napoli piled more pressure on the increasingly under-fire Andre Villas-Boas as they came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-1 at the Stadio San Paolo. Chelsea will now struggle to progress through to the last eight of the Champions League, while AVB faces a fight to hold onto his job. On Tuesday he called for a figure in the club’s hierarchy to come out and publically back him but following last night’s performance his calls remain unanswered. AVB remains the odds-on favourite in the Next Premier League Manager To Be Sacked betting as his future hangs in the balance.
In the build-up to the match the Portuguese coach called for unity and it seemed to be working as Juan Mata fired Chelsea into the lead. However, their wobbly defence couldn’t deal with Napoli’s fearsome frontline and they went on to concede two goals before half-time and a potentially damaging third after the break. The defeat means Chelsea are now without a win in five matches with their future in both the Champions League and FA Cup in serious doubt. They are also facing an uphill battle to finish fourth and claim a prized Champions League qualification spot.
The problems continue to mount at Chelsea with reports of player revolts, txt messages to former manager Jose Mourinho as well as tactical disputes. AVB has been heavily criticised for his team selection against Napoli with Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Michael Essien all starting on the bench. On one side of the coin there is the argument that AVB should be given time to re-build and mould together a team capable of challenging for titles, while the increasingly growing flip side holds the view that the young coach is in over his head and it is time for Roman Abramovich to give him the boot.
Next up for Chelsea is a match at home to struggling Bolton on Saturday. Chelsea have a fantastic record against their opponents, winning the last eight straight meetings. They haven’t lost against Bolton since back in the 2003, which is a sequence of 17 matches, meaning anything other than a win for The Blues would have grave consequences for AVB. Paddy Power have Chelsea as the odds-on 1/4 favourites, while Bolton have been handed odds of 12/1, with a draw available at 9/2.