LFC manager search: Villas-Boas in profile


So the King has departed and FSG are faced with the unenviable task of appointing the right man to replace Kenny. It’s anyone’s guess in the football betting markets as to who could fill the King’s shoes. Reports indicate that they have invited Roberto Martinez, the Wigan boss, and Andre Villas Boas, the former Chelsea manager – among others – to hold talks and are likely to take their time making their choice.

While sacking Kenny was a surprise, FSG do seem to be in control of the situation and are acting with a clear vision in their mind. Here I will try to bring to fore what each candidate for the job brings to the table and what could prove to be his undoing. While I may be disappointed with Kenny’s premature sacking, I will support the new manager wholeheartedly – because he is the LFC manager and I support the club.

André Villas-Boas

Managerial career:

Born in Porto, Portugal, André Villas-Boas (aka AVB) began his managerial journey when Sir Bobby Robson, who was then manager of Porto, impressed by his footballing acumen, appointed him to Porto’s observation department. Robson also arranged for Villas-Boas to obtain the FA coaching qualification, the UEFA C licence in Scotland and for him to study the training methods of Ipswich Town. Villas-Boas later also obtained his B licence, A licence and UEFA Pro Licence in Scotland, under the tutelage of Jim Fleeting. Unusually for a manager at the top level, he has no prior experience as a professional footballer.

After a short stint as head coach of the British Virgin Islands national team, he moved onto a career as an assistant coach at Porto under José Mourinho. As Mourinho moved from Porto to Chelsea and then later Inter Milan, Villas-Boas followed.

Villas Boas finally got his break when Rogério Gonçalves resigned as the manager of Academia de Coimbra, who were in the relegation places and without a win. Boas then turned their season helping the finish seventh and going up to semi-finals of the Portuguese league cup. Brought into limelight by his success, he was appointed the coach of FC Porto where he 4 titles and finished the season unbeaten with 27 wins and 3 draws.

Then came the cash rich Chelsea and bought him out from Porto. After a decent start to the league, his season started turning for the worse when they lost to Liverpool both in the League Cup and Premier League. The slide of results coupled with a backroom unrest, where in an effort to bring in a new style and philosophy to the club he alienated the clubs uber powerful senior players. And thus came the premature end to Villas Boas’ short rein as Chelsea manager when he was sacked on 4 March 2012 after a league loss to West Brom.

He has be out of a job since but had been rumoured to be close to accepting the managerial post at Italian side Roma.

Managerial Philosophy:

Villas Boas is known to operate with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 system. He has an attacking approach to the game and likes to keep a tidy defence record. Unlike Jose Mourinho he gives his fullbacks more freedom and prefers them take part in the attack. His tactics are more free flowing and easy on the eye and not as mechanical as Mourinho’s.

He prefers to play with ball playing defenders who can bring the ball out of attack and maintain a high defensive line. He expects his defenders to bring the ball out of defence and try to outnumber the opposition midfield. Here with the numeric advantage he will try to either pass the ball in front of defence and try to bait them out of their positions or rely on the skills of individual players to create chances. There is no doubt that AVB is an astute reader of the game and is no afraid to ring in changes early. He also tends to prefer to protect a lead and plays defensively once they have taken the lead. This tactic has backfired on him many a times where he has tried to rely on his defenders keep a clean sheet. Trying to do this with the aging Terry who has long lost his pace and David Luiz whose game sense is comparable to a Chipmunk’s can be suicidal – as Villas-Boas found out. With a strong defensive pairing in Agger and Skrtel, along with the protection of Lucas, it would be interesting to see how we perform with such tactics. He also carries out a thorough examination of his opposition and is known to show players videos on how the opponents play and educate them on how best to deal with them.

A lot was expected out of him when he arrived at Chelsea. He was expected to be the face of the revolution that Chelsea so desperately craved. His transition to the English game was questionable. Every team has got its own strengths and weaknesses and Villas-Boas did not adapt his strategy to suit the needs of Chelsea. Arguably, he tried to bring in too much too quickly. Whether his players understood what he wanted and deliberately defied him or whether they did initially try and did not understand his style is not exactly clear but his ideas were clearly not reproduced by the Chelsea squad.

Villas-Boas is also a workaholic who spends a lot of hours on the training ground trying to get it absolutely right. It is also difficult to say just how much he had say in signing youngster like Courtois and De Bruyne as they have been widely acclaimed to have been signings of Chelsea director of football Michael Emenalo and Boas is thought to have no input in their signings. One must not forget that at Porto he inherited a squad that was challenging for the title every year and the squad had a winning mentality. Also Porto being a selling club has a squad with higher adaptability. His major transfer were Nicolas Otamendi and Joao Moutinho as replacements for the departing Bruno Alves and Raul Meirelis in like for like replacements. The two have generally performed well and are integral to Porto’s squad. Amongst his Chelsea signings Mata has been the main man for Chelsea while Meirelis has been lukewarm this season.

The biggest talking point of his stint as a Chelsea manager was the reported rift with the Chelsea old guard. While we have our own ageing players, I do not believe they will stand in the way of the future manager and development of the squad. AVB is known to have a very good relationship with his former charges at Porto and also the younger Chelsea players. While the majority of the blame lies with the Chelsea players, AVB share some part of the blame too in his handling of the whole issue. He could have been softer and more subtle in treatment of the players and alienating players who are liked in the dressing room is sure to lead to a rift between the players and the manager. Villas-Boas is also said to be highly motivational in his speeches.

So there we have it, a dossier on AVB. So what do you think? Could he fit well at LFC?

Next up: Roberto Martinez

Mahesh M.

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I am diehard Liverpool supporter and love when we play beautiful attacking football. The technical and tactical aspects of the game attract me the most. I hope we get back to the top of the footballing world where we rightfully belong at the soonest.
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  • ianmcd31

    What i’m thinking is whether it was a good idea for FSG to sack Kenny before they had a shortlist of managers willing to talk to the club that wanted the job, and, that FSG were happy with this shortlist. It seems to me that they sacked Kenny before even knowing the next step. This is worrying as it will cause doubt among our star players and their agents. Due to this ‘limbo’ we’re in, can you imagine how many other clubs are now contacting our players agents. This needs to be sorted quickly.
    It appeared to me that our players believed and respected our manager, where does the respect come from for AVB? This article mentions AVB’s attacking style, well, that’s exactly what Kenny brought to the table, we just couldn’t find the net. Also AVB’s task was to push his youngsters into the Chelsea team, which was the same mistake i think Kenny made this season. The likes of Henderson, Downing, spearing, should have been coming on from the bench when the job was done, to build their confidence. The only youngster we have with the right mentality for starting a game is Kelly, and, maybe Shelvey.

  • football/brain?

    Louis van Gaal or Ralf Rangnick, we either need a dutch or German coach, very tactically astute and not as dumb as a post. Liverpool needs to push themselves a little further. we need someone to organize the team and make our football a goalscoring and attractive one. If possible let’s get cesaere prandelli…..this guy would definitely give us the number 19 we are looking for.

  • football/brain?

    villas boas can’t handle LFC. What we need is a new order a revolution currently our centre-mids are more boring than a 6 hour opera, suarez and carroll good strike force with tequarista and target man respectively. in a 4222 formation. guus hiddink, van gaal or ralf rangnick would be fine choices. possibly zico

  • M_aydal

    the only prob with Rafa was that he was selling all good players.. first he let alonso go to real, despite he prefered playing for us. Arbeloa was a reserve player, but he progressed so much that he took a permanent place in the starting XI. he sold him also. then followed by mascherano, his case was different, he was tired wanted to go as his wife was getting visa prob staying in England. But then we saw him “sacking” Riera as soon as he became an imminent player on the left flank despite his great performance against ManU, despite the pace and dribbling skills he had got. don’t know if everybody gonna agree with me; he was doing much better than Downing.. then rafa’s critics towards Benayoun. Benayoun was playing very well, scoring in almost every game, rafa never flattered him even after his great performance, but rather criticising him, which finally forced him joining Chelsea.
    don’t know if we’re going to get the same Rafa, but if he’s going to do the same, i would never want him back.
    thats why he was sacked by Inter Milan

  • Marshal Baral

    bring AVB, sack him at the middle of the season and make assistant manager as interim manager we might get lucky and win FA and CL like chelsea did….or bring Rafa back

    • Pratyush B. Singh

      great one mr. Baral…..true that we need to bring back Rafa, AVB didn’t live up to his expectations at chelsea in the first place……statistics matter

  • Jo

    The best thing would be to get rid of the yanks…… the first lot started the rot.

  • RobG78

    come on , why haven’t we spoke to Gary Megson yet….

  • RobG78

    FSG are a joke , they will ruin us , and make the last to yanks in charge look like Legends long live the KING…

  • redatheart

    You don’t get success by alienating your best players as AVB did with Chelsea and by publicly stating your desire to get rid of them. Sorry, but AVB – not for me!

  • JimW

    After watching the Chelsea victory at the weekend (yes, it was painful!!!) the thought of AVB fills me with a mixture of horror and dread.

    There really can’t be a better anti-AVB message than that sent out by the CL win.

    Can you imagine him coming to LFC and making the same kind of pigs ear of it as he did at Chelski? There’s got to be a damn good chance that that is what he would do. Imagine: for Fat Frank read Stevie G–and so on thru all the over 30s in our squad.

    So far haven’t been terribly impressed with the guys they have gone to–oersonally think the Norwich guy, Lambert would be a good ask–he has come up the hard way, his side has done exceptionally well this last season–and they play good football but aren’t stuck in imitating Barca! Also Slaven Bilic? Any chance?