Rarely can a newly-appointed manager have been so adamant
that he is not special, and that he is not at all like the most successful boss
in the club's history.
Despite the excitement of appointing Europe's best young
coach, it was a day of expectation management for Chelsea as Andre Villas-Boas
That news again - he's not Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese steered clear of messianic pronouncements and
focused on stability and development - at one point talking about his aims for the
next six years.
Let's hope Roman Abramovich was listening - Villas-Boas is
the Russian's sixth manager since 2005.
The 33-year-old attempted to avoid headlines by boring the
hacks into submission with a barrage of management speak.
He said: "We are a technical staff that focuses a lot
on unlocking potential. This is the kind of stimulus that we want the players
to have - responsibility and making decisions, because in the end the game is
decided by them."
Yeah, yeah, all very nice, but can't you call Arsene Wenger a
voyeur or accuse UNICEF of conspiring against Real Madrid?
The next step will be to dip into the transfer market, and
we can assume Chelsea won't be trying to beat Wolfsburg to the signature of
The defender comes in for savage criticism in a scouting
report Villas-Boas prepared ahead of a game against Newcastle in 2005 when working
on Mourinho's coaching staff.
The leaked report contains the following insights: "They are extremely vulnerable in first phase under
pressure and Boumsong commits silly mistakes by trying first station passes to
Parker and Emre."
"Defence is highly inconsistent both due to individual
mistakes (Boumsong mainly - exploit) or due to line uncoordination."
"They mix Zonal with man marking and Boumsong has instructions
to follow deep the opponents' striker. Because of that he's rarely in a
position to cover Babayaro which in consequence results in further weakness on
the left side."
Is the dossier, which you can see here,
the product of an unparalleled football visionary? No.
In fact, most of the observations would have been fairly
apparent to anyone possessing a passing acquaintance with that Newcastle side.
On the other hand, he wasn't being asked for ground-breaking
insight. He was doing a scouting report, and in that capacity it is clear,
thorough and accurate.
Those three attributes are among the most important for any
The best managers assemble a collection of good players,
give them clear instructions and goals, and make them believe they can win.
And that's about it.
Genius is overrated, especially when you are conveying your
message to 22 blokes who may not share your massive cranial capacity.
It almost always fails in management because it is innate,
instinctive and largely non-transferable.
So if he's not Mourinho, who is he like?
Villas-Boas is a man who prepares his players well and
trusts them to do their job.
In an interview with this website, Martin O'Neill said one
of the best things about Brian Clough was his ability to decide to do nothing.
When things are falling apart, too many managers try to
retrieve the situation single-handedly.
Clough kept things simple, had faith in his team, and gave
them the chance to repay it. Villas-Boas appears a similar character.
Mourinho's bombastic approach drew frequent comparisons to
Clough, but his penchant for those morale-sapping first-half substitutions
suggests a different approach to management - more controlling, less trusting.
He might not generate the headlines, but in Villas-Boas
English football might just have found the true heir to Clough.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Lens
president Gervais Martel - really excited about selling Raphael Varane to Real
Madrid: "Even if Lens had stayed in Ligue 1, Raphael Varane would
have left because he is a phenomenon! He is going to play for Real Madrid under
the leadership of Jose Mourinho who he has already met, just as he has Zinedine Zidane. Raphael is an
exceptional boy. I am proud that he is going to don the Real colours! He has
been pursued by Real for the past two months, he was welcomed by Real and he
visited their facilities. He told me: 'I cannot turn down such an
FOREIGN VIEW: Santos have won the Copa Libertadores, and
what better way to celebrate such an auspicious occasion than with a massive
Ugly scenes erupted at the final whistle of Santos's 2-1 win
over Penarol, as players, both benches and fans who found their way on to the
pitch staged a full-scale melee, repeating the spectre of violence that marred
"That's something (that comes) from those you don't like
losing," goalscorer Neymar said.