Chelsea shows Villas-Boas the door
Chelsea is now searching for its eighth manager in the past nine years
Villas-Boas was hired by Chelsea in June to replace Carlo Ancelotti
His dismissal may end up costing Chelsea $60 million in compensation
LONDON (AP) -- Andre Villas-Boas' troubled eight-month reign at Chelsea was ended Sunday by Roman Abramovich, whose gamble on the inexperienced Portuguese backfired to leave the owner searching for his eighth permanent manager in nine years.
Hiring the 34-year-old Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea scout, turned out to be a mistake that could cost Abramovich about $60 million and his team a place in the Champions League next season.
A regular visitor at training recently, the Russian oligarch fired Villas-Boas a day after Chelsea's first loss to West Bromwich Albion since 1979 left the club fifth in the Premier League, three points behind Arsenal in the final Champions League spot.
"Andre Villas-Boas has parted company with Chelsea,'' the club said in a statement. "The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early.
"Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.''
First-team coach Roberto Di Matteo, a former Chelsea player and West Brom manager, will take charge of the Blues until the end of the season.
"The club is still competing in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts,'' Chelsea said. "With that in mind, we felt our only option was to make a change at this time.''
Villas-Boas was hired in June to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who was fired after failing to win a trophy last season despite a league and FA Cup double the previous year.
That change of managers cost Chelsea 28 million pounds ($45 million) in compensation. Villas-Boas is likely to receive compensation after being fired with more than two years remaining on a contract reportedly worth 5 million pounds ($8 million) annually.
Amid reported unrest in the changing room, Villas-Boas struggled trying to bring younger players into the team while phasing out the older, big-earning stars such as midfielder Frank Lampard.
"He has had to take on a club there with a lot of senior pros in the background; probably had a very, very difficult job,'' Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said.
Villas-Boas' attempts to revive Chelsea's fortunes were not helped by Fernando Torres' woes in front of goal, with the Spain striker failing to score in 22 club games and counting.
Having repeatedly insisted he had the owner's full backing, Villas-Boas appeared to acknowledge his job was under threat after the 1-0 loss to West Brom left Chelsea with just three wins in the past 12 league matches.
"You don't get very much time these days and I genuinely couldn't be more disappointed,'' Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill said. "I feel for him.''
Villas-Boas had just two seasons of topflight managerial experience when he was hired by Chelsea last June on a three-year deal.
Winning four trophies with FC Porto last season had established him as one of Europe's most highly rated coaches. He was dubbed by many as the "mini Mourinho,'' after the current Real Madrid coach who has been one of the most successful managers in Europe in recent years.
Villas-Boas was a scout at Chelsea between 2004-07 under Jose Mourinho, who won five major domestic trophies in that time.
However, Mourinho and successors Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti always came up short in the Champions League.
Since Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, the club has enjoyed a trophy-laden period that contained three English titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups.
But the Champions League is the competition Abramovich is said to be obsessed with, and the Blues face another season of failure unless they can overturn a 3-1 deficit to Napoli next week in the last-16 match at home.
On Friday, Villas-Boas said he would "never'' quit Chelsea.
"Am I the right man for the job? Yes,'' he said. "I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't think that.''
Di Matteo's first game in charge will be Tuesday's FA Cup fifth-round replay at Birmingham.
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