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Will Tidey - Villas-Boas has been mentored for greatness

Published: 23 Jun 2011 - 13:17:43

Andre Villas-Boas is the messiah. Or at the least the latest one at Stamford Bridge, and the one Roman Ambramovich paid Porto a staggering £13.3 million to put in a job that’s about as secure as being one of Henry VIII’s wives.

The 33-year-old would like us to believe he’s not The Special One however. In his first press conference at Chelsea, he told us, "don’t expect anything from one man," before making it absolutely clear, "it's not about my arrival; it is about the continuous success of this club."

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In comparison to Jose Mourinho's first address at Chelsea, back in 2004, it was positively humble. "Please don’t call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one," Mourinho famously said.

Villas-Boas was part of the revolution that duly followed. As Mourinho's assistant he was implicit as Chelsea won their first league title in 50 years and set a course for the most successful period in the club's history.

He'd been with him at Porto before that, winning the most unexpected of Champions League titles and pretty much everything else besides.

And when Mourinho left Chelsea in 2007 he followed him to Inter Milan, winning a Serie A title at the first attempt.

By that time the master's ambition had infected his apprentice. And at the age of just 31, Villas-Boas decided to go it alone as a manager.

He started at Academia, saving the Portuguese side from relegation, and then last season moved to Porto - winning a spectacular Treble of league, cup and Europa League at his first attempt.

In the space of two seasons he'd cultured a reputation as the most promising and exciting coach in Europe. Not only did his teams win matches, they did so with an emphasis on free-flowing attacking football.

It proved an irresistible combination for Abramovich. For the ruthless Chelsea owner success alone has never been enough, and not even Mourinho’s dominant period left him fully satisfied in terms of entertainment.

But success at least buys you time. Avram Grant didn't win anything and was gone after a season. Luiz Felipe Scolari lasted six months. Carlo Ancelotti won the Double and was sacked in the tunnel 12 months' later.

Whatever his salary, Villas-Boas has certainly not taken the easy route. The Chelsea job is fast resembling the one Mourinho now operates in at Real Madrid - an almost comically precarious position that comes with an axe suspended above the dugout.

And hard as he tries, Villas-Boas will never escape the Mourinho comparisons in a country that took to the Special One like no other. The pair share a birthplace, a past and a youthful ambition that’s rare to find in the richest league in the world.

But before we get carried away about foreign coaches, let us remember the man who mentored them both.

It was Sir Bobby Robson who took Mourinho under his wing at first Sporting Lisbon and then Barcelona. And it was Robson again who allowed Villas-Boas to come and watch his Porto training sessions and ushered him into a career in coaching.

The great man might not be with us any longer, but his legacy lives on.

Quite how long Villas-Boas will last at Chelsea is anybody’s guess, but with Robson and Mourinho as his teachers, perhaps Ambramovich has finally come upon the combination of flair and fight he’s been looking for.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey

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