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Friday, August 30, 2013

Is he crazy?

I could be referring to anyone, but in this instance, I'm speaking of Andre Villas-Boas, the real manager of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

This is NOT Andre Villas-Boas

I know a lot of my loyal readers have no idea what I'm talking about. Despite the success of Major League Soccer (MLS), there is still a lot of work to be done with expanding the fan base for the beautiful game here in America. Come on ya'll! The World Cup is coming up in June of next year and the US Men's National Team is almost a lock for qualification so it's time to get on board right now!

But this blog isn't about MLS or the World Cup - it's about the sanity of Andre Villas-Boas...or AVB for short.

AVB rose to prominence as a football manager in 2010 when he became the manager of FC Porto, one of the premier sports clubs in Portugal (cultural note: in world football, the person we would refer to as the head coach is called the manager - or in the UK perhaps the Gaffer). At the age of 32, he was considered very young to take the helm of one of Europe's storied clubs. But he had some experience, having worked on the coaching staff of The Special One, José Mourinho, at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan. AVB left Inter to take the manager's position at FC Porto and promptly went undefeated and won four trophies in his first season. After his stellar year, AVB was lured away by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to become manager of Chelsea FC, one of the marquee teams in the Barclay's Premier League.

AVB was happy...for a little while

AVB lasted less than a year at Chelsea. I won't bore you with the gory details but suffice it to say that Mr. Abramovich is not known for his patience with club managers. Fast forward a year and a half and the third manager since AVB was let go has taken the reins at Chelsea: Jose Mourinho, AVB's old mentor.

So what happened to poor AVB? Was he crazy to leave Porto after his stunning superfecta? Was his career ruined by the mad Russian ownership at the club known colloquially as Chelski?

Au contraire!

A little more than a year after getting the can at Chelsea, AVB was hired as the manager of Tottenham Hotspur FC. Spurs, as they are more briefly known, have been a fixture in and around the top four of English football for years but never really achieved the same level of success as their peers. After an uneven season in 2012-2013 that saw Spurs finish 5th and miss out on the coveted Champion's League place available to a fourth (or higher) place finisher, many wondered if AVB would be cut loose again. Surprisingly, a couple of ambitious European clubs courted AVB but he chose - and was allowed - to stay on at Tottenham.

If you're still with me, you're probably thinking in between yawns, "What's the point?"

The point is, Tottenham are the proud "owners" of the hottest football player on the planet, one Gareth Bale. You would think any manager worth his salt would do everything to keep Bale, a player with lightning fast speed, excellent ball control and tremendous shooting ability. I mean, you'd be crazy to sell the guy that almost single-handedly carried your team during the previous season, right?

So long Spurs?

Today's news reports that the summer-long transfer drama that has continually fanned rumors sending Bale to Spanish giants Real Madrid was all but sealed, with the only remaining business calling for Spurs to agree on the player transfer fee - estimated to be anywhere from £70 - £90 million pounds.

That's crazy, right?

Crazy like a fox, maybe.

AVB and Spurs ownership have overseen a summer spending spree that is certainly on a par with their bigger-spending neighbors. Including today's signing of Argentina forward Erik Lamela, Spurs have dropped more than £90 million pounds on new players with some high quality names among them, including Spanish forward Roberto Soldado along with winger/countryman Iago Falqué, and Brazilian central midfielder Paulinho.

It seems to me like AVB is still the young magician that guided FC Porto to an unprecedented four titles in one season. He's taken one phenomenal player and parlayed him into a team with depth and talent. I'm a life-long Manchester United fan and to be honest, even though we're the reigning champions, I'll be keeping my eye on AVB and his Spurs.

Objects in the rear view mirror could be closer than they appear.

What do you think?


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