Roy Keane has pointed out that AVB’s Chelsea failure is reminiscent of Clough’s short Leeds tenure, suggesting he could still be a major success in the Premier League.
It really doesn’t require such a crude comparison – to a situation 40 years ago that happened to a manager with a wildy different managerial approach and an entirely different CV – to suggest that he might do OK at Spurs. In reality his record-breaking treble with Porto reflects his proficiency far more than his Chelsea stint. His time at Stamford Bridge tells us more about the failings of Chelsea Football Club than it does the Portuguese manager.
Problems at Chelsea
The reckless and ruthless managerial policies of Roman Abramovich saw AVB fall after only 257 days in the job, with the young coach battling tirelessly against the titanic force of the Chelsea old boys’ egos. Villas-Boas, as with Porto, tried to instill a high pressing game, utilising width, speed, and possession football. This attitude is reflected in his signings: Gary Cahill is a ball-playing defender that played in a high defensive line at Bolton, where he won 1.5 offsides per game (6th highest in the league); Juan Mata is a playmaker with excellent ball retention – hardly the man to fit into Chelsea’s traditional counter-attack strategy.
AVB failed to clear out the old guard, and eventually paid the price as the groans of Terry and co. drastically affected the squad’s attitude towards the coach, resulting in dismal performances that should have left Chelsea’s players greatly ashamed of themselves. Abramovich resorted to someone that would win the support of the all-powerful first eleven, and Chelsea once again implemented the same philosophy that has been used since Mourinho moulded it way back in 2004.
AVB tried to revolutionise the club and reinvigorate an ageing team still riding off Mourinho’s system, but without immediately winning, he was fired. Anyone that attempts to change things will, inevitably, lose their job and be replaced by somebody too scared to drastically alter the style (or the team) in order to achieve the short-term success the oil-rich oligarch demands. It is no surprise Chelsea are an ageing team in decline, and it is no surprise that AVB’s plan did not work. Spurs need not worry about what happened at Stamford Bridge.
Attack-Minded football, played high up the pitch (not unlike Spain)
As previously mentioned, Andres Villas-Boas plays attractive football, in a model that is fairly similar to Del Bosque’s. His teams are expected to keep possession and play in a fluid, attacking style high up the pitch. When not in possession the defenders play an offside trap with a very high line, and all players are expected to press hard, attempting to harass the opposition into conceding possession whilst AVB’s team are still in the attacking third. As Michael Cox points out, these ideas are reflected in the disciplinary record and offside record he had at Chelsea. This failed at Chelsea because Terry, Lampard and co. didn’t like it; I get the feeling the Spurs players will.
Astute Tactical and Statistical Analysis (Redknapp’s Antithesis)
Unlike ‘Arry, who didn’t like to over-think things or use chalkboards , AVB is from the modern school of intense tactical analysis and statistical evidence, spending hours perfecting his teams style, studying the opposition, and making sure his players can slot into his system. Levy’s typical alternation between motivator and tactician with each managerial appointment is again reflected in the latest transition. AVB inherits a squad with a winning mentality and individual flair, but in-need of tactical direction. It is, in many respects, the perfect fit.
A Spurs Clearance And New, Thoughtful Signings
Cudicini, Kaboul, Nelson, Bentley, Jenas, Dos Santos, Defoe. A summer clearance is probably in order at Spurs, and we can expect several key signings as well, particularly if Modric leaves and Adebayor cannot agree terms. AVB does not sign players simply because they are talented, but instead works out how they can fit into his system, making sure there is hard evidence of their abilities.
The Cahill signing, as shown above, is testament to this. Other signings at Chelsea were largely youngsters, suggesting he will build for long-term success at White Hart Lane.
We may not have seen much of them yet, but Romeu and Lukaku could be superstars.
Spurs under Villas-Boas will look to the future, and look to find players that exactly complete the jigsaw under his personal tactical policies. Don’t be surprised if his signings appear left-field, and don’t be surprised if they turn out to be precisely what the team needs.
Spurs fans – have you begun to salivate yet? AVB is exactly what the club needs to progress to the next level. His youth and vibrancy compliment the explosive and attractive Spurs tradition, whilst his role as a tactician could be enormously successful with this group of talented individuals.
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