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Andre Villas-Boas: A tale of two countries

by Josh Powell | September 15, 2012
Andre Villas Boas

AVB: Another Vacancy Beckons?

It’s safe to say Andre Villas-Boas hasn’t taken the Premier League by storm. He arrived in England with a huge reputation and the belief he might be the Special One Mark II, but his stint in charge of Chelsea came to an end before John Terry had the chance to chat up his wife.

In little over a year, Villas-Boas has seen his star fall faster than a Facebook share. Once he was being touted for the biggest jobs in European football, now he’s under pressure after just three games as Tottenham manager. Many clubs would forgive him for not being able to mould the personality of the Chelsea dressing room, but if he fails at White Hart Lane his reputation as a managerial prodigy will rival Emile Heskey’s reputation for goalscoring.

Three games into the season, he’s still looking for his first win as Spurs’ boss. It’s not a disaster and he isn’t automatically doomed to fail, but he needs a win. His reign hasn’t got off to a great start, but we’re still early enough in the season that a couple of wins will catapult you from ‘destined for the Championship’ to ‘destined for the Champions League’.

It could happen, but at the moment there are other questions. Why can’t he translate his managerial success in Portugal to the Premier League? Is he just an ordinary manager who got lucky early on in his career? And where does he get his rain-jackets? The Paddy Power Blog has looked at his record in Portugal and England in an attempt to answer some of those questions.

AVB began his manager career at the age of 21 with the British Virgin Islands in 1998. As the country is largely compromised of servers owned by companies trying to lower their tax bill, we’ll ignore that. It was over ten years later that his management career proper got underway as he took the reins at Academica de Coimbra a small club with a long history and short list of honours.

Academica had flirted with relegation in regularly in the seasons preceding his appointment, but when he joined it looked like they were intent on finally sealing the deal. They were bottom of the table with no wins and just three points. It was only October, but they were in real trouble. Results picked up immediately under AVB, so much so that by the end of the campaign, they were closer to a European place than to the drop. Porto came calling.

Success in the sun

He wasn’t exactly working with a total basket case when he inherited one of the biggest jobs in Portugal. In the season before he took over, the club had finished third in the league, eight points behind winners Benfica. It wasn’t a catastrophe, but in a team that won six league titles, four Portuguese Cups, a UEFA Cup and of course Jose Mourinho’s first Champions League in the naughties, it was well below expectations.

Armed with the finances and fervent support that comes from the lingering feeling the aristocrats in Lisbon are consistently looking down their noses at their more industrial northern rivals, Porto were always going to be in a position to rebuild extensively. Still though, there was both a swagger and security to how they claimed the league title. They went unbeaten through the season, dropping just six points out of a possible 90 and winning the league by 21 points.

Failure in the capital

It’s the disparity between this record in Portugal and England that’s the biggest puzzle. During his couple of seasons in Portugal, he amassed a total of 60 wins from 88 games, which translates to 68 per cent. That’s impressive, but even more so considering he was working with relegation candidates for the early part of it. At Chelsea, with more resources and a better starting point, he never threatened to get near those numbers. He won just 47.5 per cent of his games with the Blues and combined with his struggles at Tottenham, that means he has won just 44 per cent of his games in England.

Incredibly it is 2/1 that AVB leaves Spurs this season. He lasted little more than eight months with Chelsea and if results don’t improve at the Lane you wouldn’t be too surprised to see his reign end in similar circumstances again. It is 3/1 for Tottenham to find their mojo again under AVB and finish the season in one of those crucial top four spots.

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