Having run a recent poll to see who Liverpool fans would like to see replace Roy Hodgson, a surprising name emerged as their No.1 choice. So who is Andres Villas-Boas – the man dubbed as the NEW Jose Mourinho.
Andres Villas-Boas is not a name all Liverpool fans would have heard of but over the last year, he has emerged to become one of Europe’s most exciting young managers. At just 33, he is in his first season as Porto manager and has yet to lose in the league after 14 matches. It is not only his unbeaten record that has impressed many but the style of attractive, attacking football which has made him a much sought after manager. A style of manager: young, eager to prove himself and with an attacking philosophy which will endear him to many Reds fans. John W Henry and FSG are not adverse to giving young managers a chance; you only have to look at Theo Epstein at the Boston Red Sox to know they are not afraid at giving young people with little experience lead roles if they believe they have the talent to succeed.
Villas-Boas started his career in his teens, working in the Porto scouting department under Bobby Robson in the mid 90s. The club’s coaches were very impressed even then with Villas-Boas’ ability to write scouting reports that were succinct and easy to understand. At just 21, he was appointed Technical Director of the British Virgin Islands FA before taking charge of the national side for a few World Cup qualifying matches. At the turn of the millennium, he returned to Porto to become coach of the Under 19s side.
It was at this point he met Jose Mourinho. The “Special One” was appointed manager in 2002 and made Villas-Boas an essential part of his coaching staff. The young coach would follow Mourinho around to Chelsea and Inter Milan over the next seven years, learning a great deal from the manager. At Chelsea, he gained a reputation for extraordinary detail in the scouting of opposition teams, giving players pre match scouting reports, including DVDs, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the players they would be facing.
To chase his own ambitions however, Villas-Boas left Mourinho and Inter Milan in October 2009 to takeover as manager of Portuguese bottom side Academica. His reference from Mourinho was the deciding factor for his appointment but he set about making his own mark on the struggling Portuguese outfit. Academica had not won a game all season by the team he took over and the Portuguese press had already condemned the side to relegation. Villas-Boas presided over a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the team, as by playing attractive attacking football, he guided Academica to 11th in the table by the end of the season, 10 points off the bottom. He also helped guide the team to the semi finals of the Portuguese Cup, which they lost to Porto only to a late goal.
His impressive turnaround of Academica, his links to Mourinho and his team’s attractive style of play, attracted the attentions of Porto and they replaced Jesualdo Ferreira with Villas-Boas for the start of this season. In 14 league matches, Porto have won 12 and drawn 2, while scoring 32 goals. Less a man manager than Mourinho, Villa-Boas more than makes up for this in his tactical knowledge and with Porto playing a 4-3-3 formation, he has got them playing in a style that has many admirers around Europe. Although he would be a massive gamble for John W Henry and FSG, he would certainly be a breath of fresh air on Merseyside.
Article written by David Tully at the excellent Live4Liverpool