In a week where Andre Villas-Boas should have been taking the plaudits for successfully guiding his team through the Champions’ League group phase, he was left looking rather foolish for his strange attack on Gary Neville.
Until recently his side had looked strained and inconsistent, with rumours of factions in the camp suggesting the 34-year-old is showing signs of failing to cope with the pressure. Since arriving at Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese boss is now totally different to the man who said in his first press conference that journalists could ask him anything because he has nothing to hide. Now any negative comments towards his side are part of the “continuous persecution” that Chelsea face, a huge exaggeration of the real situation, especially when many of the comments are justified.
Gary Neville’s comment was a humorous criticism of David Luiz’s erratic performances and was correct. The Brazilian’s kamikaze style has caused numerous problems for his team and saying it looks like he is being controlled by a 10-year-old on a Playstation is a witty way of saying the same. Similarly, Alan Hansen’s remarks about his high line tactics against Manchester United were also reasonable, but it angered the manager as well.
Having cost Roman Abramovich £13.2 million, he was given the unenviable task of bringing European and domestic glory to the club. It has been a rough ride so far and battling against the money of Manchester City, the togetherness of Tottenham and the might of Manchester United for the Premier League title, starting a battle with the media will create another problem in his bid for success.
Villas-Boas’ is intellectual and has great analytical ability which will make him a top manager but he is yet to prove that in London. His policy of playing attractive football has come as a culture shock to his squad and has been too much too soon. It has created mistakes and understandably led to some criticism which has shown the fragility of the incredibly thin-skinned boss and this is why he will never be the next Special One.
His Portuguese counterpart is a master of the media. It often appears that he holds every journalist in the palm of his hand, creating whatever story he wants. Always the showman, Mourinho looks at home than when he is in front of the camera and can win a match days before the game through one simple interview. He is able to get a mental advantage by taking the pressure off his team by turning the attention onto him or even by announcing his team in a press conference. He oozes confidence which is projected onto his players and is key to the success he has enjoyed.
Meanwhile, the Premier League’s youngest manager looks uneasy in front of the journalists, unable to deal with the criticism because he isn’t used to losing and putting more pressure on his side by reacting to the pundits who are doing their job. It seems he has been shocked by British press and the way they work. He obviously didn’t expect to have his side analysed in depth and have questions raised by any “outsiders”. Saying that Hansen and Neville should not be commenting on his side because they are biased towards Liverpool and United respectively is immature and ridiculous. The pair have 16 league titles and four European Cup winners’ medals between them so it is impossible to question their credentials. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge of the events in a dressing room and in the case of Neville, he is not long out of the game and knows exactly what it’s like to be a player at the top of the league, something that Villas-Boas doesn’t.
For the young boss, he should be concentrating on winning matches. Having finally found a formation that suits the players at his disposal he might be able to change his fortunes. Last night’s victory over Manchester City was a brilliant performance, with the right changes made at the right time to make it three consecutive wins in all competitions and bring them back into contention. And with that victory, a manager seemingly on the edge now looks to be sitting pretty.
Despite all their problems they have scored more points in their opening 15 games than last season. One victory, even against the league leaders, won’t make all his problems go away but it will certainly help. It brings confidence to his team and ending City’s unbeaten run will boost that further. If they continue to win then pundits won’t be picking fault with his players.
Villas-Boas will never be like Mourinho. Despite working together at Stamford Bridge their methods, manner and relationship with the press are completely different. His outburst showed that he is uncomfortable with the media and his inability to stay calm under criticism shows he will never be the special one. However, he is a great thinker like his Portuguese counterpart and with more results like Monday night, he will bring his own period of success to Chelsea.
He just needs to think before he speaks.
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