Aged just 35, Andre Villas-Boas has already accomplished more than most managers will in their entire career. From landing the head coach role of the British Virgin Islands national team when he was just 21, to winning the a treble of Primeira Liga, Portuguese Cup and Europa League with Porto 12 years later, the only uncharted territory for the Mourinho understudy remains the Champions League.
Of course there was the short-lived “Chelsea Project”, in which Villas-Boas did manage to pull Chelsea out of the group stage before being relieved of his duties a few days later, but there was always the feeling that AVB had one of Abramovich’s heavies hanging over him when it came to selecting the team.
A little over a year later and Villas-Boas is at Tottenham, where he has the freedom to build a team without the interference of a meddling owner, and on top of that, a fairly generous transfer budget.
Despite going out of this year’s Europa League quarter-final on penalties to Basel, a competition that the Portuguese certainly had a view to win, there is a sense that this is just the beginning. If Spurs can push either Arsenal or Chelsea out of the Top Four by mid-May, the only dalliance with the Europa League they have will be an unwanted inconvenience, a result of elimination from the big table. Because next season, at least AVB hopes, is all about the Champions League.
If Spurs are to embark on their second campaign in Europe’s elite competition, there needs to be a significant shake up at White Hart Lane. AVB is a man who needs time to reshape his squad, easing out the old guard for young, upcoming talent, and in Daniel Levy he has a chairman who, while not without his faults, shares that same will to win and has a pocketbook to back it up.