Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas claims ‘invisible’ Chelsea play without style

Spurs manager critical of former club putting success above all on eve of key game in Champions League race

Andre Villas-Boas has suggested that Chelsea chose success over developing a distinctive style when they sacked him in March last year, as the Tottenham Hotspur manager prepares to return to Stamford Bridge tomorrow night for a critical league game against his former club.

The 35-year-old was dismissed by Chelsea after a run of three wins in 12 league games, a decision that he said in the summer he considered to be a loss of nerve on the part of the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich. Yesterday he went further, saying that Chelsea had chosen to abandon his plans to change the team and that a club without a style would ultimately make them “invisible in football”.

Asked whether Chelsea continued to be in a state of confusion over which path to take in developing a playing style, Villas-Boas said: “It’s a little bit unfair for me to say that. In the end, it’s brought them success and sometimes success is what matters in football – independent of the style.

 “I have a different opinion [to them]. I think if you don’t have a style, it makes you invisible in football. Only teams with style succeed. But in the end, success normally is what matters in modern Europe.”

Asked to describe the style of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, a period during which Villas-Boas was the club’s opposition scout, the Spurs manager said they were “an absolutely deadly machine of football – but in a different way. Great, great counter-attacking football,” he added, “and one of the great teams in the country. There are various types of teams; teams built along great creative players and this Chelsea team has the ingredients to be able to play this type of football.”

Realistically, Spurs must beat third-placed Chelsea to stand a chance of finishing in the Champions League qualifying places. A win for Chelsea would as good as guarantee them a spot next season.

Villas-Boas was tasked with changing Chelsea's style from the Mourinho era into something resembling Barcelona when he succeeded Carlo Ancelotti in 2011. Asked about the difficulty of making changes to a team's style, Villas-Boas said it was “very, very difficult. Probably Barcelona with [Pep] Guardiola is the best team for playing football in recent years, in my opinion.”

There was, for the first time, an acknowledgement from Villas-Boas that he did not have the support of certain senior players during his nine months at Chelsea. He was asked whether it was right that Frank Lampard, whom he left out the team regularly, had been one of those. “Yeah, but his ability and quality was never in doubt,” Villas-Boas said.

“But that does not really matter right now. There have been other managers in this position before and in the end you study what you have done and become better and adapt. Only by learning from experiences are you able to deal with them better the next time.”

Rafa Benitez, at his press conference, dropped the biggest hint yet that Jose Mourinho would return to Chelsea this summer. “You know that next year there will be another manager,” he said. “That is clear. I think everybody knows who will be here. I will just concentrate on my job now.”

Asked later whether he would speak to his successor, Benitez replied: “Good question. You think that he will ask me? That's something you have to ask to the new manager.”

Earlier, John Terry had said that he often exchanged texts with Mourinho and had done so after his former manager had issued his plea to return to English football in the aftermath of Real Madrid's Champions League elimination. Terry said: “It is difficult to go into but the fans have shown he is a man they love, above all for what he won, and for pushing the club in a direction it had never gone in before. He is still the Special One.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power