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Tuesday, 18 March 2014 14:58

André Villas-Boas takes on Zenit St. Petersburg challenge

AVBPortuguese coach embarks on new project

André Villas-Boas has been appointed the new coach of Zenit St. Petersburg. The Russian club announced on their official website today that the 36-year-old has signed a two-year contract.

AVB worked for years as one of José Mourinho's most trusted assistants before going it alone as a head coach with Académica in 2009/10.

He enjoyed a meteoric rise in his coaching career. After impressing in his debut season in Coimbra, Pinto da Costa made him FC Porto coach in the summer of 2010, and a fabulous season ended with a triple triumph of Portuguese Liga, Europa League and the Portuguese Cup.

The young coach then angered many Porto fans by walking out on what he had described as "his dream job" after just one year to take over at Premier League club Chelsea.

He did not last long at Stamford Bridge (who does?), but stayed in London to become manager of Tottenham, where he enjoyed a successful first campaign. However, some heavy defeats this season led to his sacking in December.

Three months later and he is back in employment at Russian powerhouse Zenit, who recently fired Italian coach Luciano Spalletti.

AVB will reunite with Brazilian forward Hulk, who he worked so brilliantly with at Porto, and compatriots Luís Neto and Danny, as he attempts to rebuild his erstwhile reputation as one of football's brightest young coaches.

by Tom Kundert

Comments (17)
@ Southampton Joe
17 Friday, 21 March 2014 11:27
That's a good punch line, "and maybe he'll steer your helm again one day". Clearly you know little of Porto fans since many would never accept him back after his backstabbing bwhaviour.

I agree with you about his Chelsea deal, but he was a big boy and knew what he was getting into. So I have no sympathy. If anything, it was his just desserts.

At Tottenham, I think it's completely clear that Daniel Levy is costing Spurs with his micromanaging. Did AVB deserve to get sacked so soon? Probably not.

The point is not whether or not he is a good coach, because I think he's a decent to good coach, but he seems to think he's much better than he actually is. That Porto team he managed would have won under the management of almost any coach that year.

It's more about his character, which is shining through now with his Porto betrayal, poaching their GK coach and just yesterday he came out and said he deserved credit for Chelsea's Champions league trophy because he assembled that team.

Lol, classy right? So what if they were down 3-0 to Napoli on aggregate and were only able to reverse that under di Matteo.

Classy Judas
16 Friday, 21 March 2014 10:07
Joao Southampton/UK
What a load of vitriolic abuse directed at AVB. Even here in this country(UK) it seems the media seem to have pre-judged the man before time.
At Chelsea, he dealt with 2 prima donnas in Terry and Lampard who knew they where up for the chopping block.
His mandate at chelsea was clear, reduce the age of the squad and rebuild the team.
Was never going to happen.

At Tottenham, the press darling Harry Redknapp got sack in favour of a Chelsea outcast....how do you think the press will react to this? It was Manna from heaven for them.
In spite of AVB guiding Tottenham to their biggest ever premiership points score, and losing his best player, and getting 8 replacements in which upset the balance of the squad as it would for any team....he got sacked.

Look at the empty shell of a team they have now. 7 points behind the leaders after 16 games when AVB was sacked which has grown to 13 points after 30 games in spite of having more home games and easier opposition(Norwich, Stoke, Sunderland, Fulham,Villa, Swansea) only 3 highprofile games for Sherwood in Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal....which they lost.

Basically, he was cut short in the middle of huge transition in both occasions. The thinking man would see this, and appreciate it.
As for Porto fans, he gave your great club 3 trophies. Be happy about it, and just maybe things will patch up in time and he can steer your helm again one day.
It'll be really fun
15 Friday, 21 March 2014 01:12
to watch the Ginger Judas fail once again. The guy walks around with such a pompous attitude, like he is the second coming of Mourinho or something.

Now he goes and pisses off PDC by poaching Porto's goalkeeper coach. Never good to piss of PDC, especially when he treated you like a son and gave you your first big break.

A pompous, disloyal, backstabbing wretch of a man.

Sorry, I had to vent that. Never liked the guy...
A bit shady
14 Thursday, 20 March 2014 19:18
Wil Coort has been with Porto since 05/06. By all accounts he's going to continue has a Goal Keeping Coach at Zenit.
You can't blame for someone to leave for more money, but either someone at Zenit/AVB should hace spoken with Porto's hierarchy.
Granted PdC would have asked for possibly more cash back than what he received.

Chris, it's always about number one. Before attacking AVB, keep in mind that PdC, Porto, Benfica, JJ, LFV, Sporting, Cavalho, and all our loved stars are ALL ABOUT #1.
They all talk the good talk, but it's all about what's mine. It doesn't make them bad guys, it's just business. Fans live and day by the results, the players just have another game to go to.
Disagree Ivo
13 Thursday, 20 March 2014 15:42
This guy already deserted the team, but PdC still kept on good terms with him, inviting him to award ceremonies and the museum opening at the Dragao.

This is how this disrespectful scumbag pays him back in kind. His falling out with Mourinho is also fairly well documented, and Mourinho went out of his way to still say he respects AVB and wishes him well.

I think we have an accurate idea of AVB's policy, which is clearly to take care of number 1 and screw everyone else. That is unforgivable, especially as Porto always maintained him in good standing even after he betrayed the team.

Not cool
12 Thursday, 20 March 2014 14:26
Don't really think it's fair to say that AVB "stole" Porto's GK coach. It is his ultimately his decision to stay with or leave the club and this type of type of thing happens all the time. It's not like Porto don't poach players and staff from other clubs as well...
11 Thursday, 20 March 2014 14:19
I don't know that's it is accruate to see he is out of the "media frenzy", since I am sure that the media and fans in Russia are just as unforgiving. We just don't hear about that league as much since it's not one of the traditional European powerhouses.

As for his "poor" career choices. I actually don't think they were poor at all. He was given an opportunity to coach at Chelsea after winning everything there is to win at Porto, so who can blame him for wanting to take on a new challenge? And at Spurs, he inherited an intriguing team with a lot of potential. The pressure mounted significantly after the Bale sale, but I don't think it was a terrible choice either. It's easy to say that in hindsight, but initially most people thought it was a good move for his career.

Now with Zenit, it may be a step down from the BPL, but I think it's a good choice. It will give him an opportunity to settle down at a club away from the spotlight of the top four leagues with a quality side. And Zenit are a quality side, as evidenced by their recent win against Dortmund. I think it would have been a much bigger risk for him to take on another position in a top league. This way he can gradually work his way back to the top, if that's what he wants.
Empty Suit?
10 Thursday, 20 March 2014 12:35
Nathan, I agree. The key for him is staying and getting results in the CL. If he's bounced out before the contract is up, it's really bad. Zenit will not be a soft landing, winning is a must.

As soon as I saw PdC's comments I knew Tripeiros would be upset. Never the thought that a goal keeping coach was so key, but shame on AVB for not contacting Porto first.
I believe the coach payed his own buy out of the contract. That means Zenit will pick up that tab.

Speaking of "never we're", where will Pacienca land. If Belem manages to somehow stay up, would that be a good spot to start over? Guimaraes?
Ginger Judas strikes again
9 Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:36
Read Tom's tweet about AVB now stealing Porto's goalkeeping coach. What a pillar of ethics for the community. It's good though, because this ensures he'll never return to the club, which would be nothing but detrimental in my opinion.

I don't wish him ill, but I certainly don't wish him good luck either. He's a big boy who got too ahead of himself in 1 year and is now paying the price. For all those who speak badly of Mourinho, the man knows his players are his bread and butter so he works to always form strong bonds with them.

That used to be how AVB worked, but he seems to have lost his way. Either way, it will at the very least be entertaining to see his Russian experiment.
not a bad move
8 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 21:49
Though some have rightly pointed out that this move is not necessarily a step forward for AVB, you have to keep in mind the following:

After his tenures with Chelsea and Tottenham, and the media storm that hurt his reputation, it was unlikely that AVB was ever going to find a "step up" or even a lateral move (e.g. moving to a top tier Bundesliga/Serie A club). His only real choice is to coach a few years on a lower level to rebuild his reputation. Remember that this is a team that will allow him to coach a diverse mix of talented players that will compete in the champions league every season, so in the short term this move may look bland, but ultimately it postures him for a chance to move back into the spotlight with a bigger club at the 3-5 year point if he is successful at Zenit. At 36, and given his coaching history the last few years, this is exactly the kind of job he should be taking, and I hope it works out for him the way I think it will.
Add Ons
7 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 14:20
Although AVB had unfinished business at Porto, Champions League, it was always going to be hard to turn down Chelsea and its money.
For me his biggest mistake was to jump to the Spurs so quickly. He knew he was going to lose Bale, which would really hurt the club. Unfortunately for him, the president and fans felt they should be improving, even with the loss of Bale.
AVB was really in trouble once he started deviating from his original philosophy/tactics and the results didn't come.

As we all can see Sherwood hasn't changed much. His only action has been to insert a motivated Ade (he won't be next season) and flooding the midfield with attacking players out of position. He's looking as inept as Moyes at Man United.

Hopefully for AVB, he can stay at Zenit for a while. In my opinion he needs to stay there longer than the two year deal, and bring them some success in the Champions League (advancing to quarters).
My concern for him, is if this decision was made to somehow appease Hulk who asked for a transfer.
Lost in Russia
6 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 10:45
The Chelsea offer killed his career. He wasn't ready, could have spent two more years at Porto honing his craft. Instead went into the oven at Chelsea where if you don't win right away you are done. Cant say I blame him for that move. When one of the biggest teams in football offers you big money, how do yo say no? What I do blame him for though is for letting it go to his head and strutting around like the second coming of Mo, when he hadn't done anything yet. Now more bad choices and going to a B league. He will make lots of money, but this won't help his career. What's next, joining Vitor Pereira in the Arab desert. There's another one who chose short term money and torpedoed his career
Ding ding ding!
5 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 07:24
Rui in Canada couldn't have gotten it any more right if he was the man's autobiographer. Spot on.

He doesn't seem that bright about his career choices. Must be that urge to retire and go race in Dakar.
Step backwards
4 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 02:30
Rui / Canada
The Russian league is a step backwards, and the quality of football isn't near the elite level of many of Europe's better leagues. I'm sure he's making a decent amount of cash, but this isn't the best way forward for his career.

He seems to rush in to things without much consideration. He rushed out of the perfect situation in Porto, and then rushed in to the Spurs job too quickly. he really should have switched to a different league after getting sacked at Chelsea.... the English press didn't like him and didn't respect him, and it was only a matter of time at Tottenham before he was let go. Too bad because he had a lot of promise.
Needs to settle
3 Tuesday, 18 March 2014 22:16
At this point I'm just hoping he doesn't become another Paciencia. AVB really needs to settle in and go on a run with a club.

By the way, there's only two Portuguese players on Zenit's squad. One of them, Neto, only played one campaign at Nacional before leaving the league.
Hulk and Axel have played in Portugal, but that's it.
Russia will not be kind, should there be hiccups.
Zenit is a barn-yard
2 Tuesday, 18 March 2014 21:34
- AVB is out of the media crazy football countries and into a place where he can breathe
- He can challenge for league, cups, europa and champions league places every year
- If anyone can make Hulk play like the unstoppable monster he was at Porto, its AVB
- Zenit has a talented squad with room to tinker and grow, perfect for captain spreadsheets
- most of the problem players have been sold, loaned out or simply frozen out (Denisov, Anyukov, Bystrov, Shirokov)

- crazy xenophobic fans
- Zenit is a split squad, Russian players vs foreign players, Splalletti never got them to work together
- dysfunctional team with years of animosity growing

Good luck AVB, i truly hope he succeeds. Winning usually solves everything, hopefully he can do that right off the hop and having Danny and Hulk is not too shabby.
1 Tuesday, 18 March 2014 17:37
I really hope AVB succeeds with Zenit. Seems like the team will be a good fit given the Portuguese talent they have and his past success with Hulk. However, looking at the Russian league table, it seems really tight at the moment. Zenit are in second three points behind Lokomotiv, but they are only one ahead of Spartak, two of Dinamo and four of CSKA, so it doesn't look like it will be easy for AVB. Lose a game or two and Zenit's could easily find itself a few spots back of where they are now which will not bode well for AVB.

The godo thing is that he's young enough that he's got plenty of time to prove himself and rebuild his reputation.

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