'Mini-Mourinho' takes the next step in his footballing fairy tale

 

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The Independent Online

The journey that has taken Andre Villas-Boas to the brink of becoming Chelsea's new manager has all the components of a football fairy tale. The teenage notes that Villas-Boas wrote to Sir Bobby Robson when he was his neighbour in Porto; the apprenticeship with Jose Mourinho and then the success last season at Porto achieved at the age of 33. He is only five months older than Didier Drogba.

But there is no doubt that Roman Abramovich's latest managerial appointment is also a huge gamble. Where did Villas-Boas come from? Despite his stellar season at Porto over the last nine months, there is an argument in his native Portugal that he would never have got that job were it not for his association with Mourinho.

This time last year, Villas-Boas had managed just 23 games in professional football. That was at Academica, a team from the university town of Coimbra which he took over in October 2009. He managed to keep them in the top flight with a record of eight wins, nine defeats and six draws. It was a creditable effort but the reward for Villas-Boas – the manager's job at Porto – was extraordinary.

So who is he? He never had a playing career of any note. He is married with two daughters. He has an English grandmother, Margaret Kendall, who moved to Portugal to start a wine business and who partly accounts for his flawless English. As a coach he sees his style as less dictatorial and more liberated than Mourinho, whom he followed to Chelsea in 2004 (left).

Then he was just an eager young man at the back of the dugout. But later this month, Villas-Boas will walk into a changing room full of the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Drogba and try to emulate once more the achievements of the man who built this Chelsea team seven years ago.

If Andre Villas-Boas is confirmed as Chelsea manager, he will be younger than his reserve goalkeeper and marginally older than his key first-team players.

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