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Spurs' Villas-Boas finally appreciated as Chelsea calamity continues

By Bradley King



Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas gestures during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on December 26, 2012
Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas gestures during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on December 26, 2012

Today marks the one year anniversary of Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas' sacking by Chelsea. It has not, as far as I'm aware, been dubbed an internationally recognised worldwide holiday, but perhaps AVB will allow himself a little celebration this evening.

Twelve months ago, the fresh faced Portuguese manager was shown the exit door by the Blues having failed to stamp his authority on the team. He was given the task of modernising the Chelsea squad, but perhaps did too much, too soon. Villas-Boas was cast as the enemy in his short spell, allegedly turning potential title contenders into Europa League probabilities.

But there isn't a manager in the world who can take charge of Chelsea's set of pampered prima donnas without the blessings of the Blue mafia - namely John Terry, Frank Lampard and, before he left for pastures new, Didier Drogba. Regardless of Roman Abramovich's blasé style of hiring and firing, no world class manager would now consider stepping into Stamford Bridge without the consent of Terry and Lampard.

Any manager apart from Jose Mourinho, that is. The west London club and its fans were still obsessed with the 'special one' during Villas-Boas' reign, with the media desperately searching for parallels between him and his young pretender. When positive results didn't come as quickly and frequently as hoped, media framing of Villas-Boas soon shifted.

It wasn't through luck that Villas-Boas was given a second chance in the Premier League at Tottenham. Those who understood the game knew about the restrictions that he was working under at Chelsea and also believed in his managerial ability. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was one of those people and took an educated punt on the former Porto boss.

But for a man whose relationship with the press at Chelsea was lukewarm at best, taking media darling Harry Redknapp's role at White Hart Lane was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. One thing was for sure, if he fell short of expectations this time then there would be no third chances, not in England at least.

Third chances would not be required. Villas-Boas has exhibited his mental strength and resilience, despite the press remaining unconvinced. He was highly criticised for easing French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into the first team and giving instructional notes to substitutes in order to pass on to other players.

But he's remained defiant during a very successful season for Tottenham Hotspur and is now reaping the rewards. Indeed, Monday's newspaper and online headlines were filled with praise for Villas-Boas, with the Daily Mail even referring to him as 'London's top boss'.

He marked a year since his fortunate escape from the dystopian Chelsea bubble in the perfect way, leading Tottenham to a derby day win over local rivals Arsenal to lift them up to third in the Premier League - above his former employers.

Meanwhile, the Blues, under interim manager Rafa Benitez, were being forced to deny rumours that the Spaniard was about to clear his desk, having become frustrated at more mismanagement from the boardroom, opposition from the dressing room and bile from the supporters. At Stamford Bridge, it seems, it's business as usual.

After releasing a sigh of relief, a content Andre-Villas Boas can afford to enjoy the Premier League table this evening. His Chelsea malfunction could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.