When Andre Villas-Boas arrived in England he came with a
reputation as the archetypal modern coach, schooled in tactical detail and
forensically thorough scouting.
A man seeking to eke out every possible advantage through statistical
analysis - Moneyball in football manager form. Something of a nerd, in fact.
From what I'd seen of his Porto side in the Europa League,
he seemed a thoughtful and hugely talented manager.
Certainly passionate on the touchline, but always respectful,
always in control, and never prone to the histrionics of that other Portuguese
bloke who moved from Porto to Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho comparisons were quickly dismissed as the lazy
fabrication of journalists unable to tell one sharp-suited Portuguese polyglot
Villas-Boas set the tone with an intentionally boring
introductory press conference in which he fended off the 'Special One' questions
by anointing himself the 'Group One'.
Clearly, as the season progressed, the differences between
Villas-Boas and Mourinho would grow ever-more obvious. Wouldn't they?
But something funny has happened. The more we see of
Villas-Boas, the more he seems like Mourinho - only without the knowing winks
and the humorous asides.
To be blunt, Andre Villas-Boas seems rather annoying.
First off, he is very quick to whinge when a decision goes
against his team.
It started after
Chelsea's defeat to Manchester United, when he said: "(I'm) very, very unhappy with the poor performance from the referees which had a decisive role in the
Fair enough, perhaps. It's not like Fergie or Wenger are
slow to bemoan their team's misfortune. Any manager would say that.
But the anger has grown, and Villas-Boas accosted Chris Foy after Sunday's
defeat to QPR, when Chelsea had two men sent off and conceded a penalty.
raged: "I spoke to (Foy) at the end and I was very aggressive to him. I
don't care if he's OK or not."
hunch: Foy was probably OK.
AVB went on: "It's the third time in row where a referee has
directly influenced the result for us and we're not happy with this. In three
games there have been blatant refereeing mistakes."
Odd, since Chelsea had won their last three Premier League matches
going into the game at Loftus Road.
continued: "Conspiracy theories can lead to bans and lead to you calling
us cry babies, and we're not. But it keeps happening."
said it: conspiracy theories.
happened, Foy got the big decisions spot on. While not on the scale of blaming
Unicef for a defeat to Barcelona, Villas-Boas looked very silly.
the John Terry controversy. A tough issue for a manager, admittedly, but
Villas-Boas hit the wrong note again with his defence of the captain.
"John is a player who
represents this country to the highest level internationally. He is a player of great
responsibilities," he said. "I find it strange when people don't
trust the words of a representative from your country."
Terry's word counts for more than Anton Ferdinand's because he plays for
more last night: "I think all of the players would like to dedicate the
win to John Terry."
Terry is being
investigated over very serious allegations, which he denies. Chelsea are
perfectly entitled to offer him support and resist pressure to suspend him on
full pay (as would be the case in many professions) - but their manager should
not treat him like one of history's great martyrs.
innocent until proven guilty, but how bad would Villas-Boas look if his captain
were found to have done wrong?
And to top it
off, we had the wild jig of vindication across the pitch after last night's win
at Everton, which channelled both Mourinho and David Pleat. Steady on Andre,
it's only the Carling Cup fourth round.
So what has
made Villas-Boas lose his cool? It is tempting to put it down to the stress of
his big new job, but there can be few higher-pressure positions
than at the most successful club in Portugal, particularly when you are trying
to get through the whole season unbeaten.
Maybe he is too used to winning - he had a astonishing 84
per cent win ratio at Porto - and gets rattled by anything but three points.
Or it may simply be that we were right first time - that far
from the studious, reserved image he brought to England, maybe he really is the
second coming of Mourinho.
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