André Villas Boas Is Worth £15m And Will Get Chelsea Swinging Again

So it looks like Andre Villas-Boas is heading to Chelsea for £15m, here's why he's worth every penny and will deliver success if he is allowed time to replicate his formula at Stamford Bridge...
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Nurtured by Bobby Robson and battle-hardened by Jose Mourinho, André Villas Boas is now strutting his stuff at Porto and playing attacking football to die-for. Here's what Chelsea fans will be getting if the he replaces Ancelotti...

The path to football management is a pretty well trodden one. First you start out as a player, graduating from academy to reserves to first team, battling against form, fitness and fatigue to try and carve out a name for yourself. Then you might move around a few clubs, picking up experience and honours along your way, possibly even become captain somewhere as your leadership attributes become steadily more apparent to those around you.

Eventually it's time to hang up your boots, attend the two day course and seek gainful employment from the relative safety of the dug-out, where you'll replace sports cars and five-in-a-bed porn star orgies with explaining to Garth Crooks why you can't defend set pieces.

But cast an eye over to the Portuguese Liga this season, where Porto have just won their 25th League title, undefeated all season and with five games to spare, under the leadership of one André Villas Boas, a man who had never kicked a ball professionally in his entire life.

It could quite easily be the script to some terrible 'Goal'-esque made-for-tv movie, but it's true. Growing up within ear-shot of Porto's then coach Bobby Robson, Villas Boas, no more than an enthusiastic 17 year old football fan with near flawless English (his Grandmother is from the North-East), would occasionally attempt to bend the great man's ear and pick his legendary footballing brain.

So impressed was Robson with this young mans knowledge and insight into the game, he pulled a few strings and sent him off to a coaching course in Scotland to obtain his badges, despite being over 10 years too young. At 21, after comfortably waltzing through the course, he was given temporary charge of the British Virgin Islands national side before Robson again recommended him for a job that just opened up in his native Portugal. That job was working as an assistant to the cocky young upstart who had just taken control of FC Porto, a certain Mr Jose Mourinho.

It didn't take long before Villas Boas talents became obvious to the special one and within months he had elevated himself to what Jose referred to as “his eyes and ears”, scouting, compiling match reports and generally seeing patterns in the game that us mere mortals would have missed. After successive league titles and one Champions League crown, Mourinho dragged his young protege with him to Chelsea and, later, Inter Milan.

After one season at Inter, Andre decided it was time to try and make it on his own. He didn't have to wait long. Portuguese side Academica, who after 4 or 5 games were without a win and flapping around the bottom of the table like a wounded seal, needed a miracle. He rode into town, got them organised at the back and expressive going forward and by the end of the season had dragged them from near certs for relegation to a comfortable 11th place finish a Portuguese cup semi-final. Speculation for a bigger appointment was rife and, although it caused some controversy in the boardroom, Porto decided to take a gamble on him.

So as the bandwagons roll on and the Mourinho comparisons are brutally drilled into your face by an overly-enthused Soccer Saturday panel, sit back and have a smug grin with yourself, you now know better. Forget about him aspiring to be the new “Special One”, the man's after a Knighthood.

Less than a year later and they've just won the league without defeat, smashed Jose Mourinho's consecutive win record, play some of the most entertaining attacking football in Europe and have just romped through to the Europa League semis with a 10-3 (yes, ten) aggregate win over Spartak Moscow.

That's no small potatoes either. Having finished a disappointing third in the previous campaign and spent the summer sacking their manager and selling off their prize assets in Bruno Alves and Raul Meireles, even the most optimistic of fans would have labelled this as a “transitional period”. Not so it would appear.

Inevitably the press have fallen over themselves to label him “the next Mourinho”. It's an understandable comparison, a young, confident Portuguese manager who, following unprecedented domestic success is on the verge of a move to one of Europe's elite clubs. He's well-groomed, an eloquent speaker of multiple languages and your missus will definitely fancy him. But that's where the comparisons with the Real Madrid boss should end, on the surface.

Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid all had one thing in common under Mourinho, a pragmatic, cerebral approach to the game that, whilst not always brilliant to watch, was incredibly effective at chipping away at the opposition until a weakness was found. An approach Villas Boas has no interest in implementing.

Instead, he has his Porto side playing a delightful brand of attacking football that's seen them top all the scoring charts this season with a goal difference of +50, already a much better return than they managed last year. Put simply, they're one of the most exciting teams to watch in all of Europe at the moment and it's all down Andre's approach of well-balanced, fast-paced creativity, with two genuine goal scorers in the brilliantly named Hulk and Falcao.

Anyone who witnessed Mourinho's masterful conversion of Samuel Eto'o from Barcelona's deadly finisher to a virtual right-back at Inter will know he's not one who prioritises breathtaking forward play.

Compare this to the late, great Sir Bobby Robson, who at the time of meeting Villas Boas was known as “Bobby Five-O” for the amount of games Porto won 5-0, and it's clear where his footballing influence, as well as his tactical inspiration have come from. Future stints at PSV, Barcelona and even Newcastle Untied all exalting goal-scoring well above defensive solidity.

He even says it himself. “I see myself more in the image of Robson. Like him I've got English heritage, a big nose and I like red wine”. So, with Carlo Ancelotti under increasing pressure in the Stamford Bridge electric chair and Abramovich demanding attacking football, don't be surprise if Andre returns to Stamford Bridge as top dog.

So as the bandwagons roll on and the Mourinho comparisons are brutally drilled into your face by an overly-enthused Soccer Saturday panel, sit back and have a smug grin with yourself, you now know better. Forget about him aspiring to be the new “Special One”, the man's after a Knighthood.

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