AVB's Hulk Reunion at Zenit Can Revive His Flailing Managerial Career

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMarch 18, 2014

Tottenham's manager Andre Villas-Boas walks to the technical area prior their English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane stadium in London Sunday, Dec  15  2013.  Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has been fired by the Premier League club on Monday a day after a 5-0 loss to Liverpool left the Portuguese coach under pressure. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Andre Villas-Boas has accepted a new managerial role at Zenit St Petersburg in the Russian Premier League and, despite being just 36 years of age, is headed for the sixth post of his career.

The news was released by Zenit's official website and Twitter account, confirming the Portuguese tactician had signed a new two-year deal set to commence on March 20.

Caretaker manager Sergey Semak will take charge of the Zenitchiki for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg tie against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, then AVB will assume the reins ahead of Monday's league clash with Krylya Sovetov Samara.

It's a surprise move, as many would have thought AVB would angle for another crack at a top job in England or Italy. There are potential openings at Milan, Internazionale, Newcastle United, Southampton and more in the next 12 months or so.

But his name has been dragged through the dirt in the UK after (ultimately) ill-fated spells with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and the RPL might just be far enough away from the spotlight for him to begin rehabilitating his career.

Better yet, he links up with his former FC Porto star Hulk at Zenit, serving up the potential for another spectacular, trophy-winning combination between the two.

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 19: Viktor Fayzulin of FC Zenit St. Petersburg (L) and Hulk of FC Zenit St. Petersburg celebrate a goal during the Russian Premier League match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod at the Petrovsky stad
Epsilon/Getty Images

It's a clever move from the Portuguese, who has developed an alarming pattern throughout his career of requiring a long-range shooting expert to get consistent points from games.

If he can replicate, to an extent, the tactics he used at Porto to get Hulk firing in excess once again, he'll be able to use Zenit as a springboard for a bigger, better job in the months to come.

During the 2010-11 season when AVB managed FCP, Hulk scored 21 goals and assisted 15 as the Dragoes romped toward the Liga Sagres title and Europa League glory.

Despite the star-studded presence of the likes of Joao Moutinho and Radamel Falcao, victories were founded more on Fernando's sterling defensive displays and Hulk's ability to conjure something from absolutely nothing.

Armando Franca/Associated Press

Fast-forward to 2012 and Gareth Bale's cannon of a left foot bailed Spurs out on multiple occasions in their quest for the top four, but the club fell just short. Erik Lamela arrived in his place, but the Argentine failed to settle, had injury issues and scuppered AVB's like-for-like "swap."

Hulk is already in sensational form for Zenit this season, with 13 goals and 10 assists to his name from just 24 appearances. If AVB can get Axel Witsel, Konstantin Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov and Danny humming in his preferred 4-3-3, the RPL title looks eminently winnable this season.

With a refreshed trophy cabinet and C.V., Villas-Boas might just be in a position to throw his hat in the ring for some of the world's top jobs once again soon enough.

Taking on the task at Zenit shows AVB knows where he stands in the market, and he's picked a job that can help easily raise his stock over the next 24 months.