At the risk of upsetting some of my readers from the outset, the answer to that question should not be ‘we do’ or the further question ‘do we?’ Instead perhaps we should be a little less certain and plumb for ‘we should’ or even ‘should we?’
Let’s park the fact I hate the phrase which was used by Scousers to describe their blind faith in a clearly (to everyone else) underperforming Rafa Benitez and has since been picked up and applied by Gooners to Arse W*n*er. I would prefer to think us Pensioners are a bit more considered, a bit more intelligent than to blindly trust.
So, as we have entered the Premiership silly season of ‘who gets the chop next?’ what is the case for AVB? Is he the right man for our job or is he keeping the seat warm until a better option comes along?
It will surprise many to hear that I was far from convinced by Carlo Ancelotti. Yes, the Double was great but let’s not kid ourselves the opposition was below par that season and we got a bit of luck with FA Cup draws. That said, you can only beat what is put in front of you and the Double team certainly did that. But then what? Wasn’t Ancelotti fooled into thinking he had a better team than he did? And when the following season Lampard and Essien (as well as Drogba) suffered long term injuries suddenly the lack of depth in the below par squad was exposed. And we have yet to address those weaknesses.
When I look at Bosingwa, Kalou and Mikel I see players who are simply not good enough to wear the shirt of a top four team. When I look at Drogba, Malouda, Anelka and some others I think, ‘thanks for the memories chaps but your day has passed.’ Only a couple of years ago I used to look at other teams and feel smug at how few of their players would make a Chelsea starting 11. Now, more often than I would like with our ‘big 6’ rivals, I am looking at the question the reverse way around.
But much of that is not AVB’s doing, he is getting his first look at these players. The reality is that Ancelotti left weaknesses unaddressed for too long and now it is AVB who is suffering the consequences.
But that doesn’t mean I am putting my trust in him.
When he came to Stamford Bridge many questioned his age and his lack of experience. Frankly, if he is good enough his age is irrelevant but what of his experience? He certainly came with a short but highly impressive CV but that CV lacked experience in one vital area; coping when it all goes wrong.
I’m not saying he can’t or won’t cope; that he can’t or won’t get us out of our current slump, I’m saying we are travelling blind because he has never had to cope with such a ‘moment’ (as he calls it) before. That is not his fault but the Board (or Roman) should reflect on that oversight in their selection process.
But panicking would be the wrong move. AVB must be given the opportunity to mould his own team and squad. He should not carry the can for what went before and for a flawed selection process. He deserves to get a period of grace to demonstrate he can cope with crisis and he deserves a transfer window to show he has spotted the squad’s weaknesses and to start the remedying process.
Beyond that, I am not committing myself. I would not have appointed him but now he is here he merits at least another couple of months to prove he can do the job. And if that means we miss out on the Champion’s League next season don’t blame him – blame Ancelotti for leaving the squad to start ‘rusting’ and the Board’s (Roman’s?) flawed selection process.
In AVB we trust? Not yet, but he deserves the opportunity to start to earn our trust.