EXCLUSIVE breaking news in this morning's Daily Mail claim that Andre Villas-Boas has gotten permission from the club to take the players on a mid-season/post-holiday-period (working) vacation to the island of Mallorca.
Supposedly leaving after the away tie at Norwich City, the squad will be on a strict 11pm curfew as they look to train and bond for five days in the sun. The legendary Brian Clough made this sort of thing fashionable back in the 70s but the last time I recall any team doing anything similar was back in 2009, when Martin O'Neill took his Aston Villa side to Dubai. At the time, Villa had been winless in six and had seen their once promising season (up to 3rd at one point) unravel in rather spectacular fashion. Of course, they did not fare much better after the vacation, going winless for six more...
In any case, with no official word from the club just yet, this very well be just more fanciful speculation from the Daily Mail...but that should not stop us form speculating on just what effect such a working vacation may have on the squad:
- Cannot put a price on team bonding / building team morale, especially with a stretch of 5 away ties in 6 coming up (and facing Manchester United in the only home match). Plus, plenty of opportunities to haze the new guy - watch out, Gary!
- Winter in London vs. winter in the Mediterranean? Yeah, that's not even close.
- Takes team out of the English media spotlight, at least temporarily. Possibly reduces amount of negative stories ahead of the tricky QPR tie in the FA Cup...or at least prevents the players and the team from being constantly accosted in the lead-up to the match.
- Unless someone messes up, not much negative can come from just the fact that they trained there. But any mistake - by which I mean things like staying out past curfew, getting too rowdy, too drunk, and/or too familiar with the local flavor / "talent" - you can bet your bottom dollar on large point headlines blaring at you from the sports pages with unrestrained glee.
- Could be read as AVB admitting that there are problems / divisions within the squad.
- Would not reflect too well if subsequent match performances are listless and/or too relaxed.