What makes the new Chelsea boss tick?
Published 23/06/2011 | 05:00
Andre Villas-Boas tires quickly of the comparisons with Jose Mourinho -- he insists he is his own man. This is best reflected in the way he sets out his teams.
Taking his cue from Bobby Robson and Pep Guardiola, Villas-Boas likes attack-minded sides. In the Europa League final he played an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, with Falcao, Hulk and Silvestre Varela as his front three and Joao Moutinho as the playmaker behind.
This team pressed hard and broke at speed and it is this positive, expansive style that appeals to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who is smitten by Guardiola's Barcelona.
Villas-Boas won the league with the a record number of points and while 73 goals in 30 games tells you about his commitment to attacking football, the fact they only conceded 16 shows that he was not reckless.
Chelsea have been built on very solid foundations for nearly a decade -- Villas-Boas will have to coax more creative play out of the team.
You might think, being just 33, he would seek to gain some professional distance from his players, but Villas-Boas, much like Mourinho, forges strong intimate bonds with his charges.
Orlando, his captain at Academica Coimbra, said: "He is very close in his relationship with the players. He commands complete respect during the working hours at the training ground, but outside he is not the boss, but one of the team.
"If two or three of you are having lunch somewhere and he comes in, he does not keep apart, like most coaches, but comes to join you."
He is well read in books on sports psychology and used footage of Benfica's title celebrations to motivate his Porto side last season. He is very emotional, both on the touchline and in the dressing-room, and channels this into motivating his players.
Since he was a teenager, Villa-Boas has learned how to prepare teams for matches. He famously compiled a report for Bobby Robson after bumping into him and having the chutzpah to ask why his favourite player did not get more game time.
From his work for Robson he graduated into Mourinho's opposition scout at Porto and Chelsea and compiled meticulous reports on opponents' strengths and weaknesses, often going to their training grounds to make discrete assessments of every last detail. He would provide Mourinho with dossiers and help put together DVDs for the players.
He remains au fait with all the latest technological developments in data analysis and used it at Porto, but sets more store in his intuitive responses to situations these days.
He has become a perfectionist who trusts his hunches.
This is the area in which Villas-Boas is relatively untested. At Porto he inherited a very strong team from his predecessor Jesualdo Ferreira and while he certainly improved the players he found, he did not have to assemble a team.
There is work to be done to reform Chelsea's ageing squad so he will be tested in this area.
Like Mourinho did with Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, Villas-Boas could well return to Porto to bring the likes of Falcao and Moutinho to Stamford Bridge.
Much will depend on the relationship he builds with whoever comes in as chief scout or director of football (Chelsea are still open-minded in this regard). Before he decided to leave for Chelsea he recommended a list of players to Porto, four of which the club have signed.
Most impressive is the capture of Juan Manuel Iturbe, the 18-year-old Argentine who has been compared to Lionel Messi. (© Daily Telegraph, London)