Andre Villas-Boas Named New Zenit St Petersburg Manager After Spurs Nightmare

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

FILE - This is a Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 file photo of Tottenham Hotspur's manager Andre Villas-Boas as he looks on from the dugout before the start of their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester United at White Hart Lane, London  Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has been fired by the Premier League club on Monday Dec. 16, 2013 a day after a 5-0 loss to Liverpool left the Portuguese coach under pressure. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

Andre Villas-Boas has been named the new coach of Zenit Saint Petersburg and will return to management after nightmarish spells with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League. 

The Portuguese boss' two-year contract was confirmed on Zenit's club website:

Zenit has agreed terms on a contract with new head coach Andre Villas-Boas. The contract will be signed and Mr. Villas-Boas will be presented in St. Petersburg as Zenit’s new head coach on March 20. Mr. Villas-Boas’ contract begins in March, 2014, and is valid for two seasons (2014/2015, 2015/2016).

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

Zenit are the sixth team AVB has managed, remarkable considering he is just 36 years old, and will allow the improving tactician a different challenge away from the Premier League.

The Gazprom-owned club are currently second in the Russian top flight, lingering three points behind Lokomotiv Moscow. Villas-Boas will be expected to ensure his team capture the domestic title and qualify for next season's Champions League, an extremely important feat considering Zenit are likely to be out of this year's European competition by the time their new coach is introduced.

Villas-Boas shot to prominence as Porto manager, where his most famous win came with a Radamel Falcao-inspired Europa League triumph in 2010-11. His tenure at the Estadio do Dragao is reminiscent of his expectations in Russia, where AVB will be challenged to win all national trophies and improve his club's stature as a continental force.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 18:  FC Porto Head Coach, Andre Villas Boas celebrates victory during the UEFA Europa League Final between FC Porto and SC Braga at Dublin Arena on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

It's certainly a change of emphasis from the English Premier League, where Villas-Boas struggled to adapt to the constant spotlight and media attention. He developed insidious relationships with the press—highlighted by his decision to confront Daily Mail writer Neil Ashton after Spurs' 2-2 draw with Manchester United, per David Kent of the same publication—and he failed to produce the results he wanted on the pitch.

Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to their first Champions League title during the season AVB left, while Tim Sherwood is currently struggling to assert his aggressiveness at White Hart Lane. The Spurs interim boss initially provided the club with a lift—brought on by an increased emphasis on attacking football—but that has since dissipated.

Villas-Boas' inability to replace Gareth Bale slowly led to his dismissal at Spurs. He spent over £100 million on players such as Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli, but it is fair to say only the dynamic Dane has proven a success.

Even so, Spurs' decision to sack AVB is now looking a poor choice, per Sky Sports News and via Bleacher Report UK:

Wayne Veysey of suggests Villas-Boas is perhaps fortunate to continue landing top jobs after his recent record:

Villas-Boas may find the Zenit post refreshing after a difficult stint in England. He has the funds and ambition to build a winning side around Hulk—a player he wanted to sign for Spurs, per Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail—and he can be expected to continue Zenit's building process as they struggle to maintain pace at the top of the Russian Premier League.

Should success follow, Villas-Boas may earn the chance to seal a Premier League return in the future. With many years ahead of him, it will be interesting to see if AVB is tempted by the lure of unfinished business.