Chelsea have paid the €15 million necessary to trigger the release clause in his contract and Andre Villas-Boas has resigned from the Portuguese champions in order to speed up the process. The man who led Porto to the treble last season is understood to be in London discussing a deal to succeed Carlo Ancelotti as the new boss at Stamford Bridge. Villas-Boas worked at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and his appointment at the Bridge will see several parallels with the arrival of the Special One. Villas-Boas will stroll into Chelsea with a Primeira Liga and European title to his name, replacing an Italian manager (who can be forgiven for feeling hard done by to lose his job, given the success he achieved). Mourinho, you will remember, wasted no time in informing the media of his “special” European achievements after succeeding Claudio Ranieri as Chelsea manager in 2004.
Former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy welcomed the fact that Roman Abramovich is appointing an up and coming manager but warned that the move represents a big risk for the Blues as Villas-Boas has no experience of Champions League football. Fail in Europe’s elite competition and you can expect to receive your P45 from Mr Abramovich, as Villas-Boas’s predecessors will testify. So, in his quest to win that most coveted of trophies, in his ultimate wisdom, the Russian billionaire has sacked two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti in order to bring in Villas-Boas, a 33-year-old coach yet to try his hand at the very top level of European football. No one ever accused Abramovich of knowing anything about football.
However, the appointment of Villas-Boas is not something that should worry Chelsea fans. Ok, at 33 he will become the Premier League’s youngest coach, and, as Cundy says, he is fairly inexperienced as a manager. But as far as I am concerned, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. A man by the name of Brian Clough once led an unfashionable Derby County team from the lower echelons of the Second Division to the First Division championship and a European Cup semi final before the age of 40. In Villas-Boas, Chelsea are getting a manager who has just won the treble and will be given millions to spend ahead of the upcoming Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
Villas-Boas is a lifelong Porto supporter and achieved his UEFA C coaching licence at the age of 17 under the guidance of then Porto manager Sir Bobby Robson. With no playing experience, Villas-Boas is regarded as unique as a football manager and as such has been quicker than most to achieve success as a coach. Like the Special One, he impressed Bobby Robson while working under the former England and Barcelona manager, and later assisted Jose Mourinho himself at Porto, Chelsea and Internatzionale. He also spent a very short period with Ipswich Town, after Robson persuaded then Tractor Boys boss George Burley to allow Villas-Boas a few days at the club. After leaving Mourinho’s staff to pursue his own managerial career, Villas-Boas was appointed manager at winless, bottom of the table Portuguese side Academica, guiding them to a safe 11th-placed finish, before taking over at Porto in 2010. He guided Porto to the Primeira Liga title without losing a single league match and added the Taca de Portugal and Europa League to the trophy cabinet at the Estadio do Dragao.
So, several similarities between Chelsea’s new boss and the most successful of Roman Abramovich’s managers. A young, confident Portuguese who has served under Bobby Robson, coming in from Porto with the league and a European title to his name, replacing a successful Italian manager, who has just led Chelsea to a 2nd placed Premier League finish. It also looks like Villas-Boas will attempt to bring some of Porto’s star players to Chelsea with him in the form of Colombian forward Radamel Falcao and Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho, while Mourinho brought in defensive Porto pair Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira. Chelsea fans will be hoping Villas-Boas can replicate the success achieved by Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge (six trophies in three seasons), although they may fear that even this may not suffice for Roman Abramovich. After all, two trophies in two seasons was not enough for Carlo Ancelotti to keep his job. Something Villas-Boas will have in his favour over Mourinho is his 4-3-3 formation, with the emphasis on attack.
Jason Cundy said something very funny this morning. “Let’s hope Abramovich allows him time to develop.” Villas-Boas has a simple task at Chelsea: win, win instantly, win lots, win the Champions League and win it all with style. No pressure on the 33-year-old then..