When the bearded, suited and pencil-thin Andre Villas-Boas emerged as the latest Chelsea manager in June 2011, I was optimistic about what he could do at Stamford Bridge and whether he was the man to deliver the impatient Roman Abramovich his long-awaited Champions League silverware.
Now, as we all know, Chelsea dramatically brought home the coveted trophy after in May after defeating Bayern Munich on penalties, not long after seeing off a poor Liverpool in the F.A Cup final. However, the young Portuguese coach was nowhere to be seen as celebrations began.
Abramovich called time on Villas-Boas’ Chelsea career in March, which left me moderately annoyed. I was fully aware that the Blues were underperforming; however the ex-Porto manager had a severely difficult task of transforming an ageing team in to a young one. Personally, I believe that in some situations, you have to take a significant step backwards to take one forwards. What occurred at Stamford Bridge last season was certainly one of them.
Fast-forwarding several months, we find Andre Villas-Boas still in London, now as the Tottenham Hotspur manager after replacing Harry Redknapp. This time, I was a lot less upbeat, with good reasoning given his previous spell in the Premier League. After picking up only one point from their two games (at the time of writing ) which were both winnable for Spurs, fans are unhappy with the performances so far.
After flourishing as assistant coach with controversial yet admirable colleague and countryman José Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan and having known and worked with Sir Bobby Robson as a teenager (following a letter challenging his tactics and backing his argument up with pinpoint evidence) at Porto F.C, some would say the 34 year-old has good coaching experience and knowledge which should transfer on to the field and in to positive results; something which is there in evidence after his solitary season at Porto. He won the Portuguese Supercup, the Primera Liga undefeated, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Europa League in a remarkable year.
However, the fortunes of ‘AVB’ have so far unfortunately turned on their head, as we know, ever since he headed for London. Personally, I would argue this has a lot to do with his stereotypically premature age, the fact that he was not a professional footballer and has had to adapt to different countries and therefore pace and styles of play, accumulating in what I would describe in naivety.
From the way he deals with the press, labelling his management task as ‘the Project’ (which is out of the ordinary and, to put it plainly, slightly odd) at both Chelsea and Tottenham and prompting thoughts and debates which are unhelpful to his club, especially at Chelsea when times were torrid towards the end of his rein. Additionally, his man-management skills are not to be envied, as the media witnessed, reported or invented a so-called ‘mutiny’ at Stamford Bridge. Whatever happened, the elder group of respected players certainly did not take to the proposed Portuguese prodigy.