TONIGHT’S Champions League showdown against Valencia represents the biggest match of Andre Villas-Boas’s fledgling Chelsea career, but even were it to end in disaster I think Roman Abramovich would resist the temptation to sack him.
Recent performances, particularly at home, hardly suggest Chelsea possess the wherewithal to contend with a hugely talented Valencia side, but Saturday’s victory at Newcastle should have a galvanising effect and I expect the Premier League side to prevail.
Villas-Boas has a long-term strategy and a clear idea of how he wants his side to play, so it would be wrong to brand him a failure on the evidence of less than half a season.
The time to judge him will come when he’s completed the long overdue project of clearing out the dead wood and enhanced the squad with players, of his choice, more suited to the system he is looking to implement.
That said, with the stakes as they are, tonight’s match is one for going back to basics and relying on the spine of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba which has dug Chelsea out of many a precarious situation in the past.
The high defensive line which has exposed Terry on occasions this season should be dispensed with for one night only, while the cure to Fernando Torres’s travails will only come as a result of hard graft on the training pitch, rather than by thrusting him into a must-win game.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played in two World Cups, and was the first Englishman to win league titles in three different countries. He now works as a media commentator.