“Chelsea FC are delighted to announce the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas as part of a three year project,” were the words on the official website of the West London club a year ago. In came a young Portuguese man with great talent, a man fresh from a highly successful unbeaten season in the league and a Europe with FC Porto. Wait, haven’t we heard this before? Exactly. In 2004, a certain Jose Mourinho took over the reigns at Chelsea after winning the UEFA Champions League with Porto, and hen winning six trophies in the three seasons that followed at the London club. Comparisons were made, with AVB touted as the new Mourinho.
The extremely optimistic fans awaited the season’s arrival. But it would all go wrong for Chelsea. Nine months later, a 1-0 defeat against West Brom would leave the club three points adrift of fellow Londoners Arsenal in the race for the Champions League places. Some fans started calling for AVB’s head, while others stated that he just needed more time. But the fans never had a say in the matter did they? It was all down to Roman Abramovich, and the ruthless Russian finally thought that enough was enough, and Villas-Boas’ time had come. Relieved of his duties, the “three year project” was cut short to less than a year.
But why? Why did AVB fail at Chelsea? Was he a bad tactician? Certainly not. He was praised for his tactical nous even though he never played as a professional in his entire life, and that tactical knowledge was evident during his fantastic season with Porto. Then was the English language a barrier? Definitely not. Then what was it? Reports stated that there existed a dressing room rift between AVB and the senior players of the club which were popularly known as the “Old Guard.” The players feared that AVB wanted to bring a new players into the club. They got what they wished for, as the club bid farewell to the 34 year old manager.
Four months on, an ambitious Tottenham side, finished fourth in the Premiership. This followed with the departure of manager Harry Redknapp, who transformed Spurs from an obscure mid-table side into a Champions League contender, and even a title-contender for the first half of the season, with their style of play enthralling fans and pundits alike. Things started to look bleak for the club from North London, denied of the fruits of Champions League football and TV money, they were now without a manager. While Chelsea and Arsenal strengthened their teams with the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Lukas Podolski respectively, the only news coming out of the Spurs dressing room was of Luka Modric’s imminent departure, and that Barcelona had made Gareth Bale their number one target for the season.
A very dark period for Spurs fans would come to an end after the club finally signing a new manager. Andre Villas-Boas had returned to London for a second spell in the Premiership, this time with Tottenham Hotspur. This was followed with the shrewd signings of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen. Suddenly, Spurs had become the most intelligent team in the transfer market. With a permanent deal for Emmanuel Adebayor following his successful loan spell expected to be in the offing, and constantly being linked with Hugo Lloris, Leandro Damiao and Joao Moutinho, the fans’ despair turned into excitement. But this excitement existed at Chelsea too, with arrivals of players such as Raul Meireles and Juan Mata.
What Tottenham have and Chelsea don’t is a patient owner. Daniel Levy, a much respected man among Spurs fans, will surely give Andre more time than Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, as the Portuguese man embarks on yet another three year project. Secondly, Tottenham don’t have an “old guard” as such. There are no characters close to Drogba, Lampard and Terry in this Tottenham side, with the only players older than Andre Villas-Boas being goalkeepers Brad Friedel (41) and Carlo Cudicini (38). Other than them, Tottenham already have a pretty much young team, with not many players reaching the 30 year mark. So the stage is set for Andre Villas-Boas to succeed at Tottenham, the question still remains, will AVB prove his doubters wrong and be successful at Tottenham, unlike his horrific spell with Chelsea? Only time will tell.