Villas-Boas uses Mourinho template to ensure progress

 

Stamford Bridge

At last, Andre Villas-Boas's tomorrow has come. The Chelsea manager did not wish to discuss what comes next before the visit of Valencia, the first truly pivotal moment in his nascent British career at the elite level. "We cannot speak about that," the 34-year-old said, when asked what might happen in the event of failure in Europe. The future was another country, alien, stark. Comfort lay in the past.

It is not a subject the 34-year-old enjoys. After all, this is a place where time is accelerated, by the Embankment, where crisis rises with the tide, by the King's Road, where philosophies are as fleeting as fashion. Last year seems a lifetime ago. And yet, for once, it was in his history book that the Portuguese looked for inspiration.

"I have good memories of top European nights at this club," he said. "I know the atmosphere can be raised here, just like in the 4-2 against Barcelona."

The appeal to the fans, of course, is the manager's last resort, ordinarily employed only as a measure of desperation. It is, in truth, most unlike Villas-Boas. He admits himself that he is fascinated by the "emotional state", but only of his players; he is not one for rallying cries or calls to arms; he is more sophist than demagogue.

And yet here he felt compelled not only to indulge his base instincts for rhetoric, but to cite a history he eschews obsessively: the time of Mourinho.

Perhaps that is because, in mentioning that portion of his career, he offers a reminder of his once lowly status. The pauper who became the prince does not wish to advertise his elevation. Perhaps it is linked to the breakdown in relations with his former mentor. Perhaps he simply wishes to forge his own path, to free himself from the immaculately tailored shadow which inhabits his club.

Villas-Boas, though, was clearly prepared to do anything to secure his future, that of his revolution, the propagation of that selfish gene, his philosophy. It will be the last thing to die, he has repeated, again and again. He neglected to mention that it might be allowed to rest. Not content with raising Mourinho's ghost before the game, Villas-Boas went a step further: he invoked him on the pitch, too.

Make no mistake, this was a Special One special. A compact, narrow defence, programmed to close space, to asphyxiate their opponents. The line was not high, but in what Villas-Boas refers to as the "middle block". Valencia were permitted to weave their patterns in front of David Luiz and John Terry. Oriol Romeu occupied Claude Makelele's eponymous role, tasked with shielding his line. Valencia might pass, pass, pass, but there would be no way through.

And then, when possession was eventually recovered, the quick break, building off the imperious Didier Drogba – the Ivorian, too, harking back to a halcyon age – through Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge, both drawn inside to support the totem ahead. It was the Mourinho blueprint, carried out to perfection by his old foot soldiers.

Except, of course, Frank Lampard, relegated to the bench. A reminder, a warning: Villas-Boas may have looked to the past to secure his future, but what comes next is entirely up to him. He has survived this first phase of his reign, leapt this first hurdle. Now the revolution must be sustained. Alex and Nicolas Anelka will be allowed to leave, others will follow. Tomorrow has arrived. It is time to forget Chelsea's yesterdays. This was one last appeal to the spectre in the overcoat. Villas-Boas remains intent on vanquishing him.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice