AVB: Too Much, Too Young?
You’ve done too much, much too young, The Specials famously sang on their seminal 1980 hit. That particular ditty was an anthem to a lost youth and the doom of adding another statistic to the population.
However, it would also appear to be a maxim that could be applied to Portuguese wonderkid Andre Villas-Boas, who as we all know has now had the button pressed on his Daniel Levy supervised ejector seat. Some people argue it was activated far too soon, and some argue it wasn’t pressed soon enough.
Villas-Boas is a difficult one to fathom out, on the one hand coming across like a coaching revolutionary, with his encyclopedia of techno-management speak, and on the other hand, coming across like a complete chancer, who has spent far too much time with his head buried in a dictionary and suffocated under a mountain of statistics.
At the time of writing, he still hasn’t managed to shake off the “mini Mourinho” tag, the obvious legacy of working alongside the self-styled Special One. Again. this is a tricky one, because in some despatches, he adopts a clear “I’m my own man” posture, but at the same time, wears at least a percentage of his historical association with Mourinho like a gaudy bracelet of recognition.
Sky Sports and other media of their ilk, often wheel out two things when talking about him: firstly, his now famous provision of analysis to then FC Porto manager, Bobby Robson, when Villas-Boas was still a comparatively young man, certainly deemed too young to be advising a man of Robson’s stature within the game. Still, Robson was suitably impressed, and offered him a job of sorts, helping the coaching staff of Porto’s youth setup at the tender age of 17.
Robson also packed the young pretender off to English Football’s School of Excellence, Lilleshall, to earn his coaching badges, no doubt to stand him in good stead for a glittering future coaching Europe’s top clubs.
After a brief spell coaching the “international” side of the British Virgin Islands in the late 90’s, he then reverted to a behind the scenes role, under the Mourinho umbrella, no doubt picking up a hefty slice of know-how along the way.
Soon after Mourinho’s move to Internazionale, Villas-Boas decided to sever the umbilical cord that connected him to Mourinho, some say as the result of an increasingly bitter disagreement, some say more as a result of Villas-Boas’ desire to strike out and prove himself as a top-level coach in his own right.
Initially, things looked good, with Villas-Boas taking a role at struggling Portuguese club Academica, whose fortunes he did a reasonable job of reviving. Indeed, he managed to lead them to the semi-finals of the Portuguese cup in 2009/10.
This apparently gave his growing repuatation sufficient ballast to earn him a shot at the FC Porto hotseat, which he was duly offered in June 2010, where he went on to break a raft of records, leading the Oporto leviathan to an unprecedented treble of Primeira Liga, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Europa League, all at the tender age of 33, the youngest manager ever to win a European trophy.
This impressive haul earned him an offer to come and stand on Roman Abramovich’s football manager tin-can-alley at Chelsea, which seemed a relatively logical choice, given his burgeoning reputation as a coach, as well as his previous association with the club.
As ever with football, things have a nasty habit of unravelling rather quickly, and Villas-Boas’ time at Chelsea accelerated rather quickly towards the inevitable trap-door, with journalists frequently criticising his “high-line” style of defensive play.
Many people quickly took the “I told you so” approach, their initial scepticism at such a young, relatively inexperienced manager taking such a precarious appointment in the first place appearing to be vindicated. Villas-Boas flounced off, scratching his head in disbelief that nobody understood him, the inevitable tabloid-tales of supposed mutiny amongst the squad following him around like a blacker-than-black cloud.
After licking his wounds for a brief period, he then resurfaced as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, a smile back on his face as he went about convincing everyone that he’d changed, and he’d be a more inclusive, less quick to take offence at questioning of his methods kinda guy.
Unfortunately, his new found avuncularity quickly disappeared as he reverted to bristling at anyone who found less merit in his methods and ideas than he did, talking about “expressive scorelines” after heavy defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, leading Daniel Levy’s itchy trigger finger to open the trap door.
Of course, we’ve heard this kind of potted history several times over, but it does lead us to ask the question of what he will do next. The more vivid imaginations among us will no doubt be linking him to any number of “top” European coaching jobs. I’m personally not so sure….
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