By Mac Byrne
Ahhh, once again summer is here; Wimbledon SW19 echoes to the sound of glugging Pimms and the sweet smell of luscious Strawberries; football shirts adorn the beaches of the Med’ whilst the footballers whose names they carry bask on the idyllic shores farther afield…
…that must mean it’s time for the introduction of yet another new Chelsea manager!
Those familiar sounds and rounds of negotiation; compensation; fanfare; the press conference; A, rather than THE special one… Chelsea, never ones to make the same mistake twice, introduce this year’s latest ‘must have’ manager, Portuguese wonder ‘kid’, Luis Andre de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas; AVB for short!
So who is this latest man of mystery from the land of the rising (prodigious) son? A man with absolutely no playing career to call on; one who has the grand total of 90 games as a manager – less than Andy Carroll has as a player – and who, at the age of 33 is only marginally older than the nucleus of his new squad!
What we do know is he is the youngest manager ever to win a European trophy – last season’s Europa Cup – and that having started in Bobby Robson’s (Porto) Observation Department, became a protégé of; former assistant manager to; and the man behind, Jose Mourinho, his foreign tour and his now famous ‘opposition dossiers’. We also know that last season he swept the domestic board at Jose’s old club Porto with a record number of points, scoring almost 3 goals per game (he favours attack) and with an outstanding, unbeaten win rate of 84% that makes his mentor look, quite frankly, anything but special! On the face of it, an all round good Portugeezer!
But look deeper than the press release and you will see that he’s no goody two boots. He lied about his age to get onto the Football Association’s Coaching Course at Lilleshall, and applied the same tactic when successfully applying for the Managers job for the British Virgin Islands (who wouldn’t). He’s also (allegedly) left the club through the back door just as the Chairman, armed with a whole roster of Villas-Boas specified talent, arrived at the front. So we know he’s certainly a man who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants; sound like anyone we know?
No doubt the injection of new managerial talent – especially one so inextricably linked to the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history – will result in the ‘halo’ effect the Blues get to experience almost every season. However, as we have seen with the past masters at the Bridge, judgement day will be next May when it will all come down to whether it is a case of Silverware or silver where?
But haven’t we seen this all before? Jose delivered – as he promised – the trophies demanded by the owner. Having done so he got comfortable, became too big for his size nine’s and ultimately talked his way onto (arguably) bigger and better things, with his reputation intact and a nice big payoff to boot!
By recruiting a man so inextricably linked and so strikingly similar in every way; a man who puts the ‘fast’ in ‘fast-tracked’ career; one who was willing to leave his childhood team after only a year and 58 games rather than staying and earning credibility through consistent and repeated success, and one who is prepared to lie his way into jobs for which he is spectacularly under qualified, aren’t the Blues heading for a similar outcome?
Well, given that Abramovich’s Chelsea business plan seems to start and finish (and is rarely updated) with the Champions League trophy, one would assume that if AVB can match or even improve on the gains made by ‘o especial’, then Roman will tolerate the pains!
What of the man himself? With such naked ambition it would be foolish to assume there is no master plan. With an English grandmother hailing from Cheadle (Hulme), a mere prawn sandwich’s throw from Old Trafford, maybe AVB has factored in his likely tenure at the Bridge to coincide with the end of King Alex’s reign at OT, and maybe Andre is ready to become a giant by fast-tracking his career on Virgin Trains’ 14.56 to Manchester!