As the finale of the European football season approaches its climax one man is emerging as the leading managerial candidate for several of the continents top clubs. The man is Andre Villas-Boas, who is currently the Porto manager and has already lead the club to their 25th league title.
His managerial career only began at the beginning of the 2009/10 season at Academica. When he took over they were bottom of the league and without a win all season. He eventually guided the club to 11th in the league and the final of the Portuguese Cup. He introduced a new brand of fast, attacking football based around a solid defence which sounds simple but is very tricky to execute consistently.
Following this incredible start to his career the Porto President Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa took a gamble and appointed him as their new manager. It is a very similar story to that of Jose Mourinho who he appointed when he was relatively unknown. Both were protégés of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson.
Whilst Mourinho learnt as Robson’s interpreter initially at Barcelona, Villas-Boas was brought in when he was at Porto in 1995. Still only a teenager Robson was so impressed with his tactical nous and knowledge that he sent him to Scotland to do his UEFA coaching badges. There was clearly something special that had been identified and Sir Bobby subsequently offered him a job coaching the youth team.
From there he worked under Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan before quitting in the summer of 2009 and taking on the Academica job. It has worked wonderfully and he is even breaking some of the ‘special one’s’ records at Estadio do Dragao; he overtook Mourinho’s record of most games unbeaten and moved it up to 36, from 33 before. Having already won the league he is also through to the semi-finals of the Europa Cup where they beat Spartak Moscow 10-3 on aggregate.
However, doing all of this has alerted many of the top European clubs to his name. He is similar to Mourinho in his extensive preparation but is encourages his team to play more expansively than his friend. It is already rumoured that Juventus, Liverpool and Roma are monitoring him and it is surely only a matter of time until he moves to one of the major leagues.
Keep an eye on Villas-Boas, we may be hearing much more from him in the coming years.