André Villas-Boas: Chelsea's seventh manager in as many years, but could he be different from the rest?
Earlier this week, Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck indicated the club may have found a long-term manager in the young Portuguese, saying, "It has to be the right guy in the job for 10 or 15 years and, in light of Andre's age, he may well be that guy. Everyone thinks his age might have been a negative but it's a positive."
This is something I think most Chelsea fans will agree with, and I'm sure we're all eager to put an end to the continual sacking of managers who fail to produce instant success at our club and are thus given the boot after a year or two.
However, in light of Buck's comments and some of the apparent changes in policies at the club since the Portuguese's arrival, might CFC be looking to make AVB its own Sir Alex Ferguson?
Here are 10 reasons I believe they indeed are...
The most obvious factor that makes AVB a prime candidate for our long-term manager is his age.
At just 33 years old, he is decades younger than the Premier League's other long-term managers were when they started, like Arsene Wenger, who was 46 when he took over at Arsenal, and Sir Alex, who was 44 when he took the helm at Old Trafford.
The ample time given to them by their respective clubs' hierarchy—even after a few mediocre and trophy-less seasons when they first arrived—allowed them to work and mold their teams into their own vision and creation, something arguably no Chelsea manager in recent years has been given the time and opportunity to do.
Villas-Boas' very young age is a huge plus, not only in terms of numbers but also for a few other reasons that we'll get into later in this article.
Despite his young age and even younger managerial career, AVB can already boast an impressive record of success.
In his very first year as a top-flight manager—which was also first (and only) year at FC Porto—Villas-Boas completed the quadruple, winning the Portuguese Cup, the Portuguese SuperCup, the Portuguese Primeira Liga and the Europa League. He also went undefeated in all League matches that season.
This is an achievement that would be impressive for any manager of any age, much less for one as young as Villas-Boas and in just his first year as a manager.
This record was no doubt one of the main reasons Chelsea paid a whopping £13.2 million to activate Villas-Boas' buyout clause at Porto, making him the most expensive manager in history.
The amount of money put out to acquire him alone signals the club is looking to keep him for awhile.
Another asset our young manager has is that he learned the trade from the very best.
He originally was inspired to become a coach by the great Sir Bobby Robson, when he discovered the Englishman was living in the same apartment building as he was. A die-hard Porto fan, AVB, upon this realization, offered the then-Porto manager Robson some advice on team selection, to which Robson is said to have responded by asking Villas-Boas to back up his assertion with statistics. When he did, and proved his argument right, Robson offered AVB a trainee position with Porto's youth team's coaching staff.
After eventually completing his coaching badge, Villas-Boas was offered the position of Porto's U-19 side manager by the new senior team coach, Jose Mourinho, who, in light of AVB's close attention to detail, quickly reappointed him to be the head of the scouting staff.
AVB followed his mentor when he moved to Chelsea in 2004, and again when he moved on to Inter in 2007 until the pair allegedly became estranged when Villas-Boas began to express managerial ambitions of his own, and they are said to have not spoken since.
Nevertheless, being the apprentice to two of the greatest managers in history is a huge asset to AVB and will definitely be on his side for his entire career.
AVB's style of play is another thing that is appealing to Chelsea.
For years now, Chelsea's style has been relatively boring with a fair amount of grinding out wins. Even under Mourinho, our playing was really very defensive and dull.
When Villas-Boas first arrived at Chelsea, he stated that:
It is not just a question of winning, it is a question of winning with a certain amount of flair.
Everybody likes attacking football; the Premiership is the most exciting league in the world.
It is a league where a certain amount of goals happen in every game and we want it to be like that. We have people who most of all defend to the death a philosophy that the game should be an entertaining game for the fans and that will be one of our main focuses as well.
This is a breath of fresh air for those of us who've bemoaned the typical monotonous style of play Chelsea has had for years.
This is yet another reason Chelsea may be looking to keep AVB for the long run.
Look carefully at the picture to the left. Unless my eyes deceive me, that's Frank Lampard sitting on the bench. This is something we've seen a handful of times this season.
In just the few games that have gone by so far, Villas-Boas has proved he's not at all afraid to make tough and often unpopular decisions if need be.
Benching Lampard is just one of the things he's done to signal that he's the boss who calls the shots, but there are a few others, such as:
• Quickly removing Salomon Kalou in the second game of the season when he was badly underperforming
• Removing Lampard in the biggest game of the season so far against Manchester United
• Making often unpopular team selections and player substitutions
These are things we never would have seen under managers like Carlo Ancelotti, and it proves AVB is willing and unafraid to go against the fray and make the decision he feels he needs to in order to produce the desired result, something the great Sir Alex Ferguson is famed to advocate and practice as well.
This may not seem like a big deal or a big factor in determining a manager's quality, but it shows he's deeply attached to and emotionally invested in the team and is affected by their success and failure.
Even Mourinho, who has become notorious over the years for his touchline antics—both good and bad—proves that how a manager acts in times of sadness and joy on the pitch is indicative of his efficacy as a leader.
Thankfully, AVB isn't as, eh, candid and outspoken as Mourinho was/is, but his Mou-esque behavior just illuminates his sentiments for our team, which should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Another thing AVB has on his side is the fans.
After Carlo Ancelotti was sacked at the end of last season, reports in the media signaled that the appointment of Guus Hiddink as Chelsea's next manager was all but inevitable—a move fans seemed to be ambivalent on.
However, when in late June, the vibrant, young André Villas-Boas was announced as the new manager of Chelsea Football Club, fans were excited to see a fresh new face at the helm.
It was indeed a breath of fresh air, and his comments following his appointment gave fans all the more hope that AVB was to be a great leader at our club.
Four or so months later, the Blues fans still have his back and are definitely with him regardless of what happens—something many of us wish the club's hierarchy would emulate.
Our support will be crucial if AVB is to be our manager for the long- un.
AVB's philosophy is another thing that makes him long-term manager material.
In his interviews and press conferences, AVB has stressed the importance of the collective, rather than the individual.
Whenever asked about an individual player's performance or situation, Villas-Boas always goes back to the collective performance of the team, insisting that putting too much attention on individual performances isn't promotive of a healthful and successful team philosophy.
He also exudes a very down-to-earth, humble demeanor. He is said to shun comparisons to his former boss Jose Mourinho, and while Mou branded himself the "Special One" upon his arrival at Chelsea in 2004, Andre chose to classify himself as "the Group One."
A big ego isn't in keeping with a long-term managerial position, which is probably why coaches like Mourinho either can't or don't stay at clubs very long.
AVB's principles, doctrines and humility are all things required of a long-term manager.
One of the biggest things Villas-Boas brings to the club is his strong belief in youth development.
It is said that when he first arrived at Chelsea, one of his first moves as manager was to phone the club's scouting department to instruct them to begin to put more emphasis on looking for and acquiring young, emerging talents.
With UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules set to kick in full-swing in 2014, this is a great move for the future of our club. Still-developing talent comes at a much lower price than buying already established players, which our club has spent huge amounts of money on in the past few years.
There is also something more honorable about having players playing for our team that our club has cultivated and developed on its own, rather than just bought from some other club.
Additionally, at the end of this past transfer window, AVB sent a slew of our youngsters out on loan both to other PL teams and abroad to get the experience they need to one day fight for a place in the Blues' first team.
He also seems to intend to play our youngsters in Cup matches to give them a chance to prove themselves.
Youth development has been hugely successful under Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, and a similar policy at CFC would be great.
This kind of youth emphasis is essential for a manager to have if he is to lead us into an era of FFP regulations and more focus on reducing our club's debt. Villas-Boas is without a doubt, that guy.
By far, the biggest factor that makes AVB perfect for a long-term position at Chelsea is that he, too, is still young and still developing as well.
At just 33 and in only his third year as a manager, Villas-Boas is himself still developing and forming in terms of managerial style, policies and tactics.
If he can mold his managerial self around Chelsea FC and its players, the result of it could be even more successful than the reigns of Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger, in that his very identity as a manager and leader will be rooted in Chelsea Football Club.
If AVB and the club can develop and transform around each other, the two would, in essence, be one in the other, much like the situation with SAF and Manchester United.
This would be hugely beneficial to CFC and could bring about success for years to come.
After all this, Villas-Boas is without a doubt a special talent on the cusp of greatness, whom Chelsea is very fortunate to have. And based on these 10 things, I have the utmost confidence André is the right man to lead our club for the next few decades and into the future.
What do you think? Leave your opinions in the comments, and thanks for reading!