Was it his fault? Was the media against him? Did the management fail to use him properly? Many questions have been posed regarding Andre Villas-Boas’ failure to make it in the Premier League, after two stints in London with Chelsea and Tottenham; he decided to go away from the spotlight to join Russia’s Zenit St Petersburg.
The decision for him to go to a slightly less followed league could perhaps be the best decision for him to put his career back on track, after all he is still 36 years old, he has all the time he needs to even return to the Premier League or one of the other top leagues, but for now, Andre needs to gain experience and character. It was hard for him to control his players at Chelsea as some of them were older than him and so they didn’t feel that he was an authoritarian unlike current boss Jose Mourinho. The players constantly neglected his orders and eventually they failed to adapt to his game, and he was not prepared to adapt to them which led to his dismissal.
At Tottenham it was a different case, the problems he had with players improved, he had a good relationship with his players, at least they responded to what he demanded from them and his first season at the club went quite well by all means. Last Summer Daniel Levy brought Franco Baldini as a sporting director and perhaps this hindered Villas-Boas’ plans, he didn’t play arrogant and he settled for the calls Baldini made, the Italian signed the famous seven players who never lived up to expectations as we predicted in one of our previous posts.
The players came from different leagues and nationalities, they played in different systems and the revolution Baldini made at Tottenham failed just like the one he did at Roma. Spurs needed a few signings rather than a whole change of scenery and this was an obstacle for AVB because it meant that all the effort he did the previous season had to be thrown away and start again with those new faces. The formula didn’t work and the Portuguese found himself being sacked yet another time in London.
Now three months after leaving Tottenham, he has the chance to replace a great tactician, Luciano Spalletti, a man who is similar to Andre in many ways and the team available shouldn’t be hard to manage if the manager has total control and support from his management. Zenit are currently in the second position in the Russian league and it was an easy decision for AVB to join them because of their prestige in Europe, it means he will still get attention from the media but not too much of it.
Zenit’s striker Hulk was previously at Porto when AVB won the treble as a manager and he knows how to get the best out of a player like him unlike the issue he had with Roberto Soldado at Spurs. AVB also took an important and brave decision to appoint his own assistant manager and staff because he wants people who suit his philosophy and know his style of game, it is a great start for him to clearly state that changes need to be made based on his perception of the game.
There is no pressure on him to perform this season, there are only nine games for him to play but he certainly has the chance to claim the league title as Zenit sit only three points behind league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow, but the important thing is for him to find out who among the current player fits his game, respects him and follows his orders for him to be able to fix the team in the summer. Andre already won his first game in charge in Russia when Zenit defeated Krylya Sovetov at home 2-1 thanks to a brace from the player AVB knows the most, Hulk. A winning start is the best thing for a manager, it lifts up the spirit in the squad and gives the whole team confidence but the important thing is for them to carry on with similar results, although the team is four points away from the top spot they are seven points away from sixth position which means no European football. The situation is challenging just like any other but perhaps the new page AVB opened in Russia could have a good ending.