A Tottenham win on Saturday at White Hart Lane would be an ideal way for Andre Villas-Boas and Spurs to step out of the shadow of Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.A win for Spurs over Chelsea would give a tremendous boost to the confidence of the club and the players and their prospects for the season ahead. It would enable Andre Villas-Boas to step out of the shadow of Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.
When Chelsea arrived at White Hart Lane for last season’s corresponding fixture, all eyes were on AVB as he faced his former club for the first time since his sacking in March, 2012 after a difficult nine months in charge at Stamford Bridge. He survived the disappointment of a defeat in that match and took a point at Chelsea in early May as Spurs accumulated their highest points total in the Premier League. This time around with the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea, the focus is on AVB against Mourinho who worked together at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan before a parting of the ways in 2009. As AVB said in interviews this week, the former colleagues and friends are no longer close as reported in The Telegraph.
We had a great personal and professional relationship before that we don’t have now. I don’t think we need explanations on personal relationships and friendship. But our relationship broke down.
With their friendship fractured beyond repair they are now opposing managers meeting for the first time but who have a mutual respect for each other having won League titles together in three different countries with Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
Now is the opportunity for Andre Villas-Boas to step out of the shadow on Jose Mourinho. In every reference to the two managers, the words – ‘master’, ‘apprentice’, ‘Special One’, ‘Special Two’ and ‘mentor’ appear regularly to explain the relationship with Mourinho as the senior partner and superior to AVB. The Chelsea manager has enjoyed tremendous success at every club he has managed but AVB, having stepped away from the relationship through a desire and ambition to coach, has earned himself a deserved reputation as a top manager.
There are many similarities between the two managers not least their pathway in managership. Both are Portuguese and have been in charge at Porto and Chelsea. Both enjoyed success at Porto but the move to Chelsea probably came too soon in his managerial career for Villas-Boas where he faced problems at a club where expectations were high and the comparisons with the former manager were an added and unnecessary burden.
AVB has displayed his ability and belief in his methods at a very young age. He turned around a failing team at Académica in Portugal before winning the treble of League and Cup in Portugal and the Europa League with Porto in his only season in charge. Failure at Chelsea was followed by twelve months of rebuilding at Tottenham – not just the Spurs team but his own career.
AVB in an interview with L’Equipe, reported by the Daily Mirror, said that he had learned from his experience at Chelsea, saying,
The Tottenham coach talked down similarities between himself and Mourinho saying that they had “different philosophies, personalities, methods of work and communication”. Certainly, AVB has conducted himself with great dignity and showed respect during his time at White Hart Lane. You couldn’t see him playing the mind games Mourinho indulges in so frequently or acting in the way the Chelsea manager did during the summer with the late intervention to take Willian to Stamford Bridge after a deal had been agreed for the player to move to Spurs. While one suspects the deal was more about preventing him going to White Hart Lane rather than Chelsea actually needing Willian, it is not that which rankles but more the mocking way in which Mourinho conducted himself when questioned about the transfer in subsequent interviews.
I was just the same coach as at Porto. I had a direction I wanted the team to follow. But I did not have enough support to follow this direction. It was a good thing, in the end, because this experience has taught me a lot and now in Tottenham, I do things differently.
Andre Villas-Boas deserves recognition and respect for what he has achieved in his own right and the way he has overcome the difficulties of the past. He took Sir Alex Ferguson, the Premier League’s most successful manager, by surprise last season at Old Trafford. Could he do it again with Jose Mourinho? Whatever the result, AVB could do without the media’s constant reference to Jose Mourinho and a win for Spurs would certainly be the first step away from those comparisons.
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