Main Listening Report: How do recent Chelsea managers rank?

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After Andre Villas Boas was sacked last week, where next for the Blues? On this week’s main listening report we take a look at Chelsea and the team’s recent managers. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report. There is also a worksheet (see right) for learners who wish to improve their English.

This week an amazing stat has been posted on hundreds of forums, blogs and quoted in articles – Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s ÂŁ50 million striker, has had more managers than goals since January last year. Mind you, these numbers are only possible because he plays at a club who seem to love to sack their managers – eight in five years. No matter who he hires, the owner Roman Abramovic, just can’t seem to settle on one. Let’s take a look at the line up starting with one Portuguese manager and ending with the firing of another.

1. Jose Mourinho. In charge for 185 games, and hired by the Russian billionaire who had just bought Chelsea, the Portuguese manager who famously called himself ‘the special one’ when he arrived at Stanford Bridge in 2004, had a win percentage of 67%. He was lucky enough to be at the start of Abramovich’s spending spree – Drogba, Essien, Robben, Carvalho to name a few of the players bought. During his reign, he managed a League and Football League Cup double twice, as well as an FA Cup. So, silverware every year for his owner and the fans, but he failed to bring the Holy Grail of the Champions League that the money his boss splashed out on the squad demanded.

2. Following Mourinho was the Israeli, Avram Grant – the polar opposite in terms of character. Where Mourinho was colourful, Grant was grey. Not so interesting off the pitch perhaps, but his 67% win rate is the same as his predecessor’s – he managed that over a respectable 54 games. In charge from September 2007 until the end of the season in 2008, Grant came closest to bringing home the Champions League title. In fact, he was a slip away, having got to the final, where Chelsea faced Manchester United, his side lost on penalties as captain, John Terry slipped and spooned the ball wide off the post. That miss sealed his coach’s fate.

3. Taking the reigns from 2008 came Luiz Felipe Scolari, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. He was ruthlessly sacked with over three months of the season left after a defeat at Liverpool – two goals in 2 minutes by Fernando Torres. His record was 36 games and a win percentage of 56. It was about this time that people began to talk about player power, as Scolari didn’t see eye-to-eye with some players, especially Drogba.

4. It doesn’t really count, but Ray Wilkins coached Chelsea as caretaker manager for one game, an FA Cup tie against Watford, which Chelsea won 3-1. Giving him a 100% win record.

5. To steady the boat , Chelsea turned to Guus Hiddink. But the Dutch boss only agreed a short-term contract as he was also the Russian national team coach. He was a big favourite with the established players like Terry and Lampard who wanted him to stay on as coach when his contract was up in May 2009. In 22 games, Chelsea won 16 and only lost one – that was Barcelona in the Champions League semi finals. Along with this impressive 70%+ winning rate, he steered the Blues to an FA Cup win over Everton in his last game. Whenever there is a vacancy at Stanford Bridge, his name is always mentioned.

6. From June 2009 to May 2011, the Italian Carlo Ancelotti took the helm and gave Chelsea some kind of stability as he was in charge for 109 matches. He will go down as one of the great managers in the eyes of most Chelsea fans due to the fact that he led Chelsea to the coveted Double – the FA Cup and League title in the 2009/10 season. He also started the process of changing the make-up of the ageing Mourinho-era team. His 61% win percentage was also impressive, but again it was the lack of a European cup and no silverware in 2011 that finally led to the dignified Ancelotti being shown the door.

 

7. Abramovic himself played a big role in choosing the young gun, Andre Villas Boas from Portugal to fill Ancelotti’s shoes. AVB came on the back of success at Porto – he won the Europa League with them and his team was undefeated in the 2010/11 season. It was hoped he could freshen up the squad, bring a more exciting style of play to Chelsea, and restart Torres’ career. He was fired after just 38 games and a win percentage of 48%. The end came after a defeat at West Bromwich Albion, a draw in the FA Cup against Championship side Birmingham, and a pummeling at the hands of Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 – they lost 3-1 but it could have been more. Again, it seems as though player power played a big part in his departure, and at 35 he was only a few years older than players like Lampard, Drogba and Terry – the backbone of Mourinho’s side – making it difficult for him to gain their respect.

8. That leaves Roberto di Matteo in charge. He is manager until the end of the season, but don’t be surprised if someone is brought in sooner than planned. But for now, after one game and a win over Birmingham in the FA Cup replay, he enjoys a 100% win record – just like Ray Wilkins!

Vocabulary

spending spree: when a lot of money is spent; buying without thinking about the cost

Holy Grail: the thing that is most wanted; something desired above all else

splash out: spend lots of money without regard; be extravagant

seal (someone’s) fate: decide a person’s destiny

caretaker manager: temporary manager; in charge for a short period until a new person is found

steady the boat: settle things down; stop chaos: make things calm

steer: lead; guide

take the helm: become leader; take charge

coveted: highly desired; wanted

be shown the door: be sacked; be fired; lose your job

fill (someone’s shoes: replace them; take their role and job

be fired: be sacked; lose your job

pummeling: thrashing; beaten easily

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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2011-12Episode 9