Add together both of their ages and you barely get one Fergie. Add together their trophy collections and you get nowhere near one Fergie. For the moment at least. Two of the bright young things in football management went head to head last Wednesday with AVB’s Spurs running out 2-1 winners.
Andre Villas-Boas (35) and Brendan Rodgers (39) were in the opposing dugouts, but they are united by more than a love of a fashionable mac. The two have spent varying degrees of time working under Jose Mourinho and while that’s a door-opening nugget to have on any CV, it’s also something to bash them over the head with if things aren’t going well.
The situations at Tottenham and Liverpool may not be critical, but the store of patience with both managers is already lower than a Frankie Boyle gag after just 20 odds games in charge. Losing this game may not be fatal, but Mourinho’s protégées need to spark improvement in coming months to begin living up to the expectations. The Paddy Power Blog has had a look at the progress of the young tyros’ careers to date.
A Special Relationship
Their connection with Mourinho undoubtedly means the attention and hype surrounding Rodgers and Villas-Boas is greater than might normally be expected. But working in close proximity with a gifted manager is no guarantee that you’ll be able to successfully recreate his formula on your own. Steve Bruce’s managerial career has taught us that.
Last week, Mark Hughes became the latest of Ferguson’s managerial progeny to be relieved of his duties. The afore-insulted Bruce along with Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Gordon Strachan, Bryan Robson, Brian Kidd and Steve McClaren are some of the men who spent extended periods basking in Fergie’s brilliance with middling to poor results out on their own. A great manager may be able to show you the theory behind the practice, but the apprentice may not know how to apply it when his time comes to give the half-time bollockings.
AVB is the more obvious Mourinho clone and that is not just mild xenophobia talking. He shares and probably exceeds the Special One’s nerdish love for all things tactical and by shadowing him at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, has spent longer savouring his Specialness. AVB was keen to downplay the perception of him as the ‘New Mourinho’ when he arrived at Chelsea, but secretly, that’s what every Chelsea fan was hoping he would be. For him, success at Spurs now is vital after Roman’s Amazing Managerial Roundabout sent him flying last March.
After the brilliant season at Porto during which he won 84 per cent of his games, it’s been a sudden fall from grace. A 47 per cent win rate when he was in charge at the Bridge was enough to get him a P45 and a nice severance package, but he’s falling short of that so far across London. Every team’s expectations and ambition will dictate what kind of win rate is acceptable at any club, but if he doesn’t improve soon, he may find himself crouching on the sideline somewhere else.
Not doing things by the Buck
Brendan Rodgers spent less time suckling at the teat of the Special One. The fact that he likes to play attacking football with teams that don’t kick lumps out of the opposition tells you that. His intense study of the game after a pre-mature retirement from playing echoes Jose’s path however. Mourinho appointed the Antrim man as head coach of the youth team at Chelsea before the manager known as ‘Buck’ Rodgers went on to take responsibility for the reserve team, even after his Portuguese mentor had been sent packing into the compensation-filled wilderness.
Watford was Rodgers’ first port of call as a manager in his own right and that was a relative success. His move to Reading was about as successful as a Ryan Giggs’ super-injunction, but at Swansea he began to stand out with a team that got results and played nice football. He got them promoted in his first season in charge and although his win rate fell to 32 per cent the following year, it was enough to comfortably keep the Swans in the division and earn some fantastically over-the-top praise.
Since arriving at Anfield his win rate has gone up to 40 per cent, but at a club used to disappointing further up the table, it’s still way below expectations. His decision to let Andy Carroll go out on loan is perhaps understandable, but his failure to sign a recognised/recognisable striker before the transfer window closed has made his honeymoon period rockier than it needed to be.
It hasn’t been a muted start for AVB and Rodgers, but the future is still bright enough for the two Mini-Mourinhos.