Chelsea FC: Why Andre Villas-Boas Can Take Blues to Champions League Title
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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, in his elusive quest to win the UEFA Champions League, might have finally found his man in ex-Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas.
Villas-Boas, who resigned from his post at Porto on Tuesday, looks set to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Stamford Bridge after months of speculation linking Guus Hiddink with the job.
And it seems the Blues could well have made the right move plumping for the Jose Mourinho protégé over the Dutch maestro.
Hiddink may have had a successful time at Chelsea, winning the FA Cup, guiding a lacklustre Chelsea team to third place in the Premier League, and most importantly, earning the full respect of the players.
However, the current Turkey boss has spent a long time out of club football. Whatever way you look at it, two years is a very long time in football.
And considering what happened before Hiddink's arrival, any incoming manager would have probably done a better job than Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Compare that to Andre Villas-Boas, the ambitious young manager who last season guided Porto to a historic treble, and not only won the Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal and the UEFA Europa League, but won it all in emphatic style.
He became the youngest ever manager to win a European title, while his team won the most games in a single season in Europe, won the most points ever in a Primeira Liga season, and set a new record when they went 36 games unbeaten across all competitions.
Can Andre Villas-Boas Take Chelsea to Champions League Success This Season?
Unlike Guus Hiddink, Andre Villas-Boas is the man of the moment in world football, and the hottest property available to Europe's elite.
He is a man wanted by all the top clubs, and in turn a coach who has become one of the most respected managers in the sport today.
So of course, it was only inevitable Roman Abramovich would see this 33-year old as his most important signing of the summer, and something of a bargain at the £13.2million it would cost to release him from his Porto contract.
A manager who worked at Chelsea and lived in West London for three years alongside Jose Mourinho, fluent English speaker Villas-Boas could well be the man to satisfy Abramovich's insatiable hunger for UEFA Champions League success.
He'll certainly have no problems adapting to life back at Chelsea, knowing the club, the area and the language very well, and most likely having the full respect and attention of the players, despite the fact a few of them will be the same age as him.
He'll also have no problems understanding the Premier League game, having created and been in charge of the Opposition Observation Department (OOD) at Chelsea after arriving with Mourinho, his boss at Porto.
In essence, he was the club's chief opposition scout, a role he carried on when he followed 'The Special One' to Inter Milan, and a role he has incorporated into his management today, doing all the opposition scouting himself.
A man with a meticulous eye for detail, like a team principal at a top Formula One team, Villas-Boas provided all players in his matchday squad for every game a DVD, informing each player of the playing style of the exact opponent they would be in direct competition with, as well as that opponent's statistics and a psychological profile of him.
And it's such detail which will come in very handy for the Champions League, allowing the Chelsea players to read the games of top players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Considering Villas-Boas won't face many troubles or distractions adapting to life or football in England, the Champions League will most likely be a competition the Portuguese tactician can give full attention to.
It's also a competition the Lilleshall-trained, FA-qualified coach has a better chance of winning than most managers.
Having done the same opposition scouting role at Inter Milan, Villas-Boas will know any Serie A opponents almost inside out.
He'll also know La Liga opponents very well, having beaten Sevilla and Villarreal on his way to guiding Porto to the Europa League title, a tournament which gave Villas-Boas valuable information on a whole range of football styles and cultures across Europe.
On the way to his team's triumph in Dublin, the 33-year old Porto boss gained key insight on opponents from Spain, Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria.
And considering this was all last season, the young manager's knowledge on his European counterparts is very up-to-date.
Aside from his vast opposition insight, Villas-Boas is also a coach who knows how to get the best out of his players, something Chelsea will need when the big pressure games come along in the latter stages of the Champions League.
He turned the superbly-named Hulk from an inconsistent, temperamental striker into a clinical goalscoring machine able to virtually always pick the right option inside the penalty area, something reflected in the player's stats.
In 2009/10, pre-Villas-Boas, Hulk scored 10 goals from 31 games. The following season, after Villas-Boas' arrival, Hulk scored scored 36 goals from 51 games.
Radamel Falcao also improved, scoring more goals in fewer matches, while centre-back Rolando finally had his breakout season.
And in midfield, Villas-Boas coped with the departure of star midfielder Raul Meireles to Liverpool by giving Fredy Guarin his chance to shine. It's safe to say, the 24-year old Colombian grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Such was the form of his Porto crop, stellar man-manager Villas-Boas claimed he wouldn't even need to sign any new players to improve this season, if the club didn't sell any of its stars.
Fernando Torres will no doubt be hoping Andre Villas-Boas can work some of that top man-managing magic on him, following his thus far ill-fated £50million transfer which has yielded just one goal from 18 games.
In fact, the whole Chelsea squad will probably be seeking such magic, with the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda having disappointing campaigns last season.
But despite having proven ability to get the best out of his resources, the doubt still remains whether Villas-Boas has the experience required to win the Champions League.
Having coached since the age of 21, when he was the manager of the British Virgin Islands (and in doing so was the youngest ever international manager), and having worked with Sir Bobby Robson at Porto, as well as with Jose Mourinho in the Primeira Liga, the Premier League and Serie A, Villas-Boas is a man who has already experienced a lot in football.
He may not have ever been a professional player, but Andre Villas-Boas is a coach who has seen it all in club football, and will bring a decade of technical expertise on the European game to his potential new role at Chelsea.
If it all goes through according to plan and Villas-Boas is named as the Blues' new boss, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich might have finally found the perfect man to lead his West London plaything to that thus-far elusive European glory.
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