Andre Villas-Boas was thrown into deep waters at Chelsea –waters that even engulfed Carlo Ancelotti after an historic double winning season. So it came as no surprise when Villas-Boas was sacked in March, following a run of poor performances.
Villas-Boas came in to Chelsea like the young ambitious manager that he is. He was the young baby-faced newly promoted CEO to a company filled with old experienced employees. A team filled with Lampards, Terrys, Drogbas and Coles who would not so openly reform to the new ideas and philosophy proposed by Villas-Boas.
Nevertheless, Villas-Boas was bold. He never lacked drive and determination, which was admirable. And cojones – which he definitely needed. Not many people would have had the guts to impose themselves the way Villas-Boas did. He benched Lampard, utilized forgotten players like Bosingwa and employed a 4-3-3 system almost resembling one used by a certain special one before him. But the players did not take kindly to the style of this young ‘Mourinho wanna-be’. Many players in the squad felt alienated. His inability to unite a hostile dressing room and control those big personalities ultimately proved to be his downfall.
The players were not happy and so were the fans. After a lacklustre draw to start out at Stoke, the AVB ship kept sinking. Villas-Boas and Chelsea had several more poor performances that saw them slip out of the top four. The inevitable came on March 4th.
Chelsea’s poor season – well, up to that point anyway until, what I like to call ‘The Matteo Miracle’ or simply ‘Di Matteo Miracle’– like a lot of times, was mainly due to the players. I will again play you what seems to be a broken record after every sacking: ‘you can’t blame the manager’, because it is true. Many of Villas-Boas’ team selections and substitutions may have been questionable but Chelsea simply lacked the personnel that was needed to accommodate Villas-Boas’ desired style. But AVB’s reign at Chelsea will always be remembered for his failures – his failure to adapt his tactics to the players available and his overall poor player management.
But we can’t forget that he is still the man that was extremely successful at Academica and Porto. He still holds the record for most unbeaten matches in Porto, and is the youngest manager to win a European title there, and went 39 matches unbeaten as a manager until an away loss to the then defending premier league champions Manchester United.
And in the recent off-season, many teams showed that they did not forget. Villas-Boas became one of the most in demand managers of the off-season and was finally chosen as the man to replace poor old Harry Redknapp at Tottenham.
Tottenham have the personnel that will suit Villas-Boas’ expansive and free-flowing style. Like Porto was, Spurs are young. Their biggest ‘star’ if you will, is Bale, who is 22. While at Chelsea, they were the same age as Villas-Boas. He would have learnt from his time at Chelsea, and will be better equipped to handle this new challenge. Tottenham is a better platform for Villas-Boas to succeed.
Since arriving at Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas has already been quick to squash any critics by insisting that he has learned from his mistakes and firmly believes that he is a better coach than he was at Chelsea. Villas-Boas wants a clean slate and it’s only fair that we give him one.
But there is no doubt that there is work to be done. In the first half of last season Spurs showed how good they can be, that they can not only break into the top four, but also contend for the title. But in the second half they showed fatigue and inconsistencies. And much needs to be improved and built on, if they are going to reach what undoubtedly will be their goal, to be in the Champions League next season.
At the back, Spurs are solid. The centre of defence was boosted with new signing Jan Vertonghen from Ajax, a good composed passer, and big defensive presence in the box, who can also go forward. If both he and Kaboul stay fit, their defensive partnership could prove a tough force against any premier league attack. Tottenham also have two very good young fullbacks in Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
In midfield, Spurs also look good. Young players like Huddlestone and Livermore could feature more prominently in a three man midfield. However, Villas-Boas will have trouble holding on to big stars Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart. But new signing Gyilfi Sigurdsson will provide options and cover in midfield, while the likes of Lassana Diarra and Porto central midfielder Joao Moutinho have also been linked with the club.
While going forward, Spurs could see Bale move up to a winger’s role in an attacking 4-3-3 formation that Villas-Boas has used over the years. Although in the centre forward role, there are some questions. The signing of Emmanuel Adebayor will be a step towards solving that problem, while other forwards like Leandro Damiao and Robert Lewandowski have been linked.
Only time will tell if Villas-Boas is the right man for Spurs. If he is given time to build this team and to establish himself, I see Spurs having a good season. And I am a strong believer in credit being given where credit is due, and Villas-Boas is a good manager.
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