Jose Mourinho is no longer a friend, admits Andre Villas-Boas
Spurs manager reveals duo fell out over Inter ambition
Andre Villas-Boas has claimed that former mentor Jose Mourinho tried to block his progress as a manager and that they have not spoken in four years.
The Portuguese rivals meet in the Premier League for the first time tomorrow lunchtime at White Hart Lane when Tottenham take on Chelsea. And Villas-Boas has raised the temperature before the clash by revealing the full extent of the bitter breakdown in their relationship, which the Spurs manager says is beyond repair.
"We had a great personal and professional relationship before that we don't have now," Villas-Boas said.
"I don't think we need explanations on personal relationships and friendship. But our relationship broke down. I think we have mutual respect for one another and what we went through cannot just disappear. But it's not like it was before."
Together with Steve Clarke and Brendan Rodgers, Villas-Boas is one of three current Premier League managers who served their time as Mourinho apprentice.
But, while the other two are still close enough to communicate frequently with their former boss, Villas Boas has not exchanged anything more than a passing greeting with Mourinho since they fell out in Italy in 2009.
"We were at a Premier League managers' meeting in August, but we have not spoken, no," Villas-Boas said.
The problem, he explained, was one of ambition. Mourinho employed the young Villas-Boas as an opposition scout, to compile dossiers on rival clubs. At Porto he did the job so well, Mourinho brought his protege with him to Chelsea, and thereafter to Inter. It was there the rift happened.
"Our break-up point was because I was full of ambition to give him something better and I wanted further involvement than the job I was doing at the time, which was scouting and match preparation," he said.
"I felt I could give him much more, so my initial idea was to keep working with him. But he didn't feel the need for anybody nearer to him, or a further assistant. Because of that it was decided that after Inter Milan it was time to continue our careers separately."
Instead of heading with Mourinho to Real Madrid, Villas-Boas returned to Portugal where, first with Academica, then Porto, he quickly forged a reputation as the next Jose Mourinho.
The rapid upward trajectory of Villas-Boas' career even survived an ill-starred six-month spell at Chelsea. So in demand is he these days, he was courted by Paris St-Germain over the summer. But he preferred to remain at Tottenham, where he is now in the cheerful position of looking down on his former boss from atop the Premier League.
It was put to Villas-Boas that he might be still Mourinho's No 2 had his ambitions been encouraged more.
"I don't know," he replied. "I always had that ambition to coach anyway. I think what it did was it made me anticipate the beginning of my career.
"I stayed with Jose until the end of the contract with Inter Milan. I left in the summer of 2009. But by that time, I had started looking for a club to manage, which came in October 2009."
Watching Mourinho closely for the best part of six years, he admits there is much of his management style he has adopted – particularly when it comes to man management, of which he acknowledges his former mentor is the master.
But he was reluctant to reveal if there were any of the great man's traits he had deliberately sought not to copy.
"I think there are things that we do dramatically differently but it's more for you to investigate and write," he said.
Tomorrow Villas-Boas has the chance to enjoy bragging rights. But the sparring had already started in the summer, when Mourinho suddenly stepped in to sign the Brazilian Willian, just as Villas-Boas thought he was heading from Donetsk to Spurs.
The rumour emanating from Stamford Bridge was that the move was personally motivated, that Mourinho deliberately acted to thwart his one-time student.
"I have no idea what motivated them to sign Willian," said Villas-Boas. "But I am sure he has strengthened an already very good squad. It was their decision to make that happen and he is such a young talent with so much potential, you can always compliment them for what they have done."
But did he feel it was personal at the time? "That is competition. It is fine. Competition between clubs is aggressive and everyone strives to do the best deals possible. In the end we moved to other players and we have been extremely successful with it."
Indeed, the newly refreshed Spurs have lost just once in eight games in all competitions – a slip in the north London derby – although Villas-Boas does not yet believe the squad he is building at Tottenham is a match for the one he inherited at Chelsea.
"It's different because Chelsea's a team that has played for titles. A team that is used to winning and plays to win. We don't have that yet," he said.
"We want to have that. We can only do it by becoming stronger and finishing within our objectives. But I would say they are one step ahead."
Tomorrow, there will be the chance to find out quite how wide that step is. Though after the game, there will be no opportunity to discuss with his rival manager the relative merits of their operations. There will be no glass of wine shared.
"I cannot hang around because I have to catch a plane straight after the game," said Villas-Boas.
"I am flying to Porto, I am a guest at the club's 125th anniversary dinner."
Intriguingly Mourinho – the manager who lifted the Champions League trophy there – is apparently not attending. So the chance for the two to bond on home soil will be lost. Not that Villas-Boas looks like a man worried by the rift. "I don't lose any sleep," he said of the broken relationship. And then he smiled. (©Daily Telegraph, London)