After a 3rd place finish last season ended Jesualdo Ferreira’s 4 year reign in charge of Porto, the appointment of Academica De Coimbra boss Andre Villa Boas was greeted with a hint of optimism and a sense of déjà vu. They had been successful under Jesualdo Ferreira, winning 3 Portuguese league titles in the process, but it would be impossible to emulate the success of Jose Mourinho, who 2 Portuguese league titles, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League before moving to Chelsea. Villas Boas and Mourinho had worked with each other on many occasions, with the young Porto boss following ‘The Special One’ from Porto to Chelsea and finally to Inter Milan before entering his first spell at club management.
Winning just under 86% of your league games is impressive at any level of football. In the top division of a major European football league makes the feat even more impressive. Having only lost 3 times in 48 games as manager, Villas Boas is cementing his position as one of the best young managers in the World at the age of 33. His Porto side have already been crowned league champions, with 24 wins and 2 draws from 26 games so far, putting them 19 points clear of their nearest rivals Benfica. They are also odds on to qualify for the Europa League semi finals after thrashing Spartack Moscow 5-1 at the Dragao in the 1st leg. They are also in the semi finals of the Portuguese Cup and have already got the Super Cup under their belts when they beat Benfica 2-0 at the start of the season. Villas Boas has probably already done the unthinkable and has equalled, if not bettered Mourinho’s spell at Porto. With a supposed pre contract move to Liverpool agreed according to reports, his achievements have not been unnoticed and a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs in the next few years is a definite.
If Villas Boas doesn’t move to Europe this season, one of his prolific strike force certainly will. Radamal Falcao and Givanildo De Vieria Souza or more commonly known as the Hulk have taken the league and Europe by storm. With 28 goals and 15 assists in 36 games in all competitions this year, Hulk has finally shown his full potential after 2 average seasons. His Columbian strike partner has also impressed in his second season with the club by notching 23 goals and 2 assists in 32 games in all competitions. Their midfield quartet of Silvestre Varela, Joao Moutinho, Fernando Belluschi and Freddy Guarin has contributed many goals and assists in their all but faultless season. They have even got super subs James Rodriguez and Christian Rodriguez on the bench to come on to help supply the forwards. Helton has proved to be a very reliable goalkeeper, only conceding 11 goals in the league, and he has been helped by a back four of Rolando, Cristian Sapunaru, Nicolas Otamendi and Maicon, who has proved a very able replacement for Pepe.
Andre Villas Boas, like Jose Mourinho, has come from a lower end of the table Portuguese club to steer Porto to National and possibly European glory. He might not have the go of the Real Madrid boss, but he could be even bigger than ‘The Special One’ himself. Only time will tell if he can be as successful as Mourinho, and like him, they both have Porto to thank.
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