Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Special is Andre Villas-Boas?
Chelsea FC Soon to Find Out

Chelsea Supporters: Which doesn't belong and why?
It's time to address new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas.

A lot has been written about this 33-year-old and none of it is fair to the man--most of all his hiring at Chelsea. You can't blame him for jumping at the opportunity, but this just smacks of a guy being a little impatient and suffering from a little bit of an over-inflated ego. It also smacks of a desperate owner desperate to once again catch lightning in a bottle as he did with Jose Mourinho.

Boy it didn't take long for another instance of the seemingly never-ending comparison between Villas-Boas and the Special One. You can't help put the two in the same sentence, PB&J style. They just go together. Not only was AVB JM's assistant at Porto, Chelsea and Inter, but he even freaking lived near Bobby Robson, Mourinho's mentor when Robson was Sporting manager in the early '90s. It's like Mourinho ordered a Clone from that freaky planet in Attack of the Clones.

Villas-Boas has been hot on Mourinho's trail for almost 20 years, mirroring nearly ever accomplishment only in record time. His resume is littered with "Youngest to win this" and "Youngest to win that" superseding Mourinho's records on many of those accounts. It seems wherever Mourinho drops a cracker, Villas-Boas is there to sniff it out, pick it up and do something better with it.

So the comparisons are there, even if they're unfair to ol' AVB. Rough thing for him is that along with those comparisons come expectations. Mourinho won six trophies in four seasons at Chelsea, including running titles in 05 and 06, this coming on the heels of six with Porto in two seasons, including a Champions League and UEFA Cup title. That's hard to do even on the XBox playing FIFA 11 in Amateur Mode.

The expectations for Villas-Boas are going to be excrutiatingly demanding. Chelsea hasn't won the Premier League in ages it seems, and since the '08 Champions League final loss, it hasn't been back to that promised land since. In the meantime, have we mentioned Mourinho won the Champions League in 2010? Yikes, this is worse than Pete Carroll following Bill Parcells with the Patriots back in '98. Poor Pete had no chance, and he wasn't even close to a Tuna Clone.

It's no secret Roman Abromovich covets the Champions League trophy more than a new missile for his yacht. He's latching on to Villas-Boas and hoping the kid can deliver. Not sure why, however. Villas-Boas is no slouch and there has to be something good there, but let's look at exactly what he's done:
  • He dominated the Portuguese league with a team that had won six of the previous eight championships;
  • He dominated largely with players who were already on the team; players such as Falcao and Hulk were signed before his reign; (To his credit he won handily after losing Raul Meireles and Bruno Alves, and brought in Joao Moutinho.)
  • Arguably, the Portuguese Liga is at its weakest with a massive gap not only between the first two (Porto won the title by 21 points) but between the top five where 41 points separated first from fifth. 
  • He has coached two top-tier club teams--Academica Coimbra (who?) and Porto;
  • He has not lost a Portuguese club match since the 09-10 season. 
  • Porto set five top division records under his watch last season
Impressive on many fronts; but very misleading on others. I don't know what to expect from Chelsea this season, but it's going to be agonizing to watch at times I fear. What if Chelsea doesn't have at least 15 points from its first seven matches? What if it draws, say Porto, in the Champions League and loses its opener at the Dragao? And what if Abromovich's impulsive nature got the best of him--again?

I think AVB jumped the gun too soon, though I can hardly blame him for taking the job and the money at Stamford Bridge. Though there's no direct connection between Mourinho and AVB at the moment, there's always going to be a lasting link between the two. And if Mourinho can somehow figure out how to beat Barcelona this year, and Chelsea can't get it done in England or Europe this season, the damage to AVB's career may be years in the fixing.

No comments: