At 33, many see the appointment of Villas-Boas as a gamble, given that his new club’s vice-captain, Frank Lampard, is only eight months younger than his manager, while back-up goalkeeper, Hilario, at 35, is older than his new boss. Many see this as a hindrance, but given Chelsea’s recent struggles, the fresh approach may prove to be the catalyst for further, and perhaps greater success for the club.
The end of the 2010/11 season saw the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti, following a dismal run of form which saw The Blues end the season trophyless. While Ancelotti’s initial introduction of his methods, brought about the club’s first ever league and cup double, the Italian was criticised by sections of the Chelsea faithful for lacking new ideas and an ability to change games when his side was struggling. In Villas-Boas, Chelsea have appointed a manager seen very much as a student of the game, honing his craft from the age of 17, Villas-Boas took his first professional coaching job just over a decade ago. Having learned from the late Sir Bobby Robson, and going on to work under Jose Mourinho, he earned a reputation as a keen tactician, with an eye for not only his own sides’ attractive brand of football, but for counteracting his opposition, a trait highlighted in his time as Chelsea opposition scout. His famous intelligence dossiers would indicate his attention to detail, against each individual opponent, offering a wealth of knowledge and countering ideas that the Chelsea squad and supporters will undoubtedly be crying out for.
The sceptics will question any such extensive abilities, given Villas-Boas’ age and apparent lack of experience, however, it is worth noting, that at the top levels of the game, the key advocators of new ideas are among the latest crop of elite coaches. In 2008, aged just 37, Pep Guardiola was appointed Barcelona manager, after just a year coaching Barcelona’s ‘B’ side. In the three years since taking over, Guardiola has led the Catalan giants to three consecutive La Liga titles, as well as two Champions League triumphs among others.
The move to bring Andre Villas-Boas to Chelsea is not a move without risk. For Chelsea to spend £13.3m to trigger the release clause in Villas-Boas’ Porto contract, with the intention of appointing a coach with no managerial experience outside of Portugal is certainly a gamble. However, Villas-Boas has spent over a decade excelling in various roles across numerous football clubs across Europe, from clubs battling relegation, to chasing domestic and European glory. As Chelsea’s new manager makes himself at home in the top job, his new employers will be hoping Villas-Boas adds to the club’s and his own, recent success story.