Early Doors

Villas-Boas is no ‘Mini-Mourinho’

Early Doors

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The League Managers' Association, which you may be familiar with through their partnership with this very website or via the press releases lamenting managerial sackings, works to protect the interest of bosses and enhance the public profile of their profession.

All very worthy and noble, of course, but Early Doors once had an aversion to the LMA likening the job to the role of a managing director in a blue chip industry. Surely they are all just middle-aged blokes, wearing track suits they should not be seen dead in, who scream from the sidelines at football games a couple of times a week, right?

Well, ED has certainly changed its tune following Porto's denial of reports yesterday that Chelsea had agreed to pay £13.2 million compensation to poach their manager, Andre Villas-Boas, in a statement to the Portuguese stock exchange. The first people to be told about the status of as professional sports coach were not journalists or fans, but traders. Football has never felt more like a commodity, like oil, gold or frozen concentrated orange juice.

"FC Porto, at the request of the CMVM (stock exchange), hereby informs the market that the coach Andre Villas-Boas, as well as several players, has a termination clause," the statement read.

"To date, we have not received any communication that this clause will be exercised, nor that the coach agrees to such an aim."

The assumption is that Guus Hiddink will become sporting director to Villas-Boas's coach but who knows, the original report from Portuguese media that a deal had been done and that AVB had already met with Chelsea may all be part of a smokescreen used to complete the signing of Hiddink as manager away from the glare of the media?

Admittedly that is unlikely, but one way or another we will find out soon enough.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "We hope to be able to make an announcement regarding the new manager in the next few days or so, but until then we will not be commenting further on the speculation surrounding that appointment."

Still, that has done little to quell the speculation that the prodigious former Chelsea scout who last season led Porto to the Portuguese title unbeaten and Europa League trophy is on his way to Stamford Bridge.

The prospect of one of the most promising young coaches coming to a club crowned Premier League champions just 13 months ago is an exciting one, if only because ED enjoys listening to broadcasters get used to repeatedly saying his name. It took a while for many in England to feel at ease pronouncing Jose Mourinho with a hard 'J', so imagine how long it will take them to make peace with saying 'Veelash-Bowash' every time he is mentioned.

Ah yes, Mourinho. The erstwhile Chelsea manager's shadow has always loomed large over Villas-Boas, especially in England where the football press and the media at large remains obsessed with him nearly four years after he left.

A young, sharp-suited, stubble-sporting maverick manager with little or no playing career to speak of who has led Porto to European glory - to make the comparison is not exactly much of a leap, although the nickname 'Mini-Mourinho' which has been bandied about is disingenuous and, quite frankly, lazy.

Still, Villas-Boas shares another characteristic with the man for whom he used to compile obsessively detailed match reports and opposition dossiers. He does not mince his words.

"I don't want to be in a coaching position for a long time because it's a position that drains you emotionally," he told the Telegraph's Jason Burt in an interview last month. "It takes a lot from you, from your family and I don't want to live like that. I want to have a short, 10-12 year career. Fifteen years, maybe, maximum. And then leave. But during that time I want to leave some kind of mark."

For a man who, at 33 years old, is the same age as Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, he is very clear in his objectives.

However, there is enough difference between Villas-Boas and Mourinho to ensure that, should he indeed end up returning to West London displaying his 'Treinador' armband proudly, he can step out of his predecessor's shadow.

He is a coach committed to attacking football. Porto scored 73 goals in 30 Premeira Liga matches last term, with fearsome strike duo sat atop the league's scoring charts with 39 strikes between them. Hulk topped the table with 23 of those, but Falcao made the rest of Europe his patch, netting a whopping 17 goals in the victorious Europa League campaign which took in wins of Sevilla, CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow (10-3 on aggregate) and Villarreal (7-4) before beating fellow Portuguese side Braga in the Dublin final.

Should Villas-Boas and Luka Modric both arrive within six months of Fernando Torres's club record signing, we could see a real sea-change in the way Chelsea play. They may be of the same age, but the likes of Drogba and Lampard will be thinking about hanging up their boots just as that Villas-Boas is getting comfortable in SW6, and Roman Abramovich may finally be able to get the effective brand of champagne football and European glory his multi-million investment has been working towards.

If he can deliver both, or even either of those demands then no one will be calling him Mini-Mourinho anymore.

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COMING UP: After McLeish's unveiling, today is the turn of Fulham to parade new boss Martin Jol - hopefully in front of that Michael Jackson statue. We'll bring you the latest on Big Martin's arrival later on.

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