He could have been a bright young executive reporting to the board. Tieless, affable, self-deprecating and – as they say in the corporate world – very big on detail, Andre Villas-Boas's introduction to life at Chelsea yesterday was the slick debut we might have expected. The club's new manager has just enough stubble to mask his youth but there was no mistaking the sharpest of minds.
Only time, and results, will tell if this 33-year-old really has what it takes but, as starts go, his introduction to life in one of the most demanding jobs in the Premier League was impressive. Answering questions about Chelsea can be a minefield at the best of times. Answering them honestly is even harder. Yet amid the politics and the endless comparisons with Jose Mourinho, Villas-Boas pulled it off.
Perhaps most crucially for a club that is on its seventh manager in seven years, he accepted the fragile nature of the job with good grace and the acknowledgement that he had to win to survive. Villas-Boas put it as bluntly as anyone when he asked: "Who expects to stay as Chelsea manager if they don't win anything?"
There is an energy about Villas-Boas and freshness of purpose – and he will need that as he rebuilds a team that, for all his optimism yesterday, is in decline. On the question of his relative youth, Villas-Boas said he foresaw no problems. "The players are responsible and professional enough to respect the position of the manager. If they lose that respect, something is wrong."
There is also a refreshing lack of cynicism about a manager who is big on unlocking hidden potential. "We like to exploit talent a lot and, by freeing their decision-making, we can find things in their talent that they thought they didn't have... We think there's something extra we can get out of them, so that is why we focus on ambition and motivation." Not for the first time, he sounded less like an English football manager, more like the head of a New Labour inner-city academy.Reuse content