VILLAS-BOAS: THE FIRST INTERVIEW
On the day that he became the fourth youngest manager in Chelsea history, Andre Villas-Boas sat down with the Official Chelsea Website to discuss the path that led him back to the club and his vision for the future…
Is managing a club like Chelsea an ambition you have had since the first time you worked here?
I was an assistant in a very successful technical staff and I always took it in a very professional way, particularly with wanting to be successful but also be part of the group. My input was an input that I would consider important in a technical staff but I wasn't obsessed with my own individual career or my own individual achievement.
But when a chance to coach happened when I was at Inter Milan, I just felt it inside me that I wanted to take on another role and face the challenge so I took the opportunity to go to Academica and left Jose [Mourinho]. Coaching was not a kind of obsession and neither did I use Jose as the way to arrive into this path, it was something that happened naturally and at the moment it is working out well - but with the game's expectations you need to continue to be successful.
Are you surprised how quickly your career has progressed?
I tend not to think about it a lot. It is something that went crazy, there is no doubt about it. In two years we have achieved so many things and it was two very happy years. The main important thing that people have to reflect on is that I don't see the game as a one-man show, I see the game as the getting together of ideas and collective ideas and good players. I was fortunate enough to in those two years to get those players together and maybe challenge their ambitions and motivations which helped us arrive at this type of success.
It was going well at Porto, what convinced you it is the right time to move to Chelsea?
I think it is a massive individual challenge which I felt I should take. I went to a magnificent year in Porto and the split from Porto is not something that is not easy for me because it is my club, the club I have defended a lot. Porto is my city and there is no running away from it, Porto supporters will always feel like there is nothing I can say that will delete their sense of being betrayed.
But I felt it was a challenge I needed to make with the importance of Chelsea, the importance of the Premier League and happily I left Porto with good success. Now I face this new challenge and focus again on being successful at Chelsea.
What do you think Bobby Robson would have thought about you taking one of the top jobs in England?
Bobby was a very important person in my career. He was the person who advised me at a very young age to go on coaching courses and unlocked the doors of Porto for me to have access to his training sessions. We had a very good relationship and he was someone I respected a lot and was respected in world football. He is somebody that means a lot to the English game and I think he would be happy of course.
What he did he did not only with me and Jose but with all different kinds of people, promoting them and inspiring them to take their own role and their own way. I think he would be extremely happy.
Last time here we called you Andre Villas, but now you are Andre Villas-Boas.
This is common in Portugal, we have big names and my name is not only Andre Villas-Boas but there are a couple of names in between. But in England we made things easier with two names, first and last. Now we have to try to expand the letters and maybe be fluent when we say the name, but it is not going to be easy!
It is inevitable what you do at Chelsea will be compared with the Mourinho era, at least at the beginning, but you have had similar already at Porto so will that help you deal with it?
I think there is no way you can avoid comparison, it is something that is the interest of the media. I didn't take the Porto job nor the Chelsea job because Jose made the same steps. They are two of the most sought-after clubs in the world and in the end I had the opportunity and was able to make them find something in me that they thought would continue their route to success.
Chelsea appointed me basically for human qualities and that is what I want to bring into this club again. The most important thing is to motivate the players to get their ambitions right, to reflect again on what the club has achieved in the last six years and we need to keep this route to success.
Chelsea is a club that in the last six years has achieved so much and people are expecting us to be on the same way. There is not going to be more or less tolerance for me if I am not successful so this is the challenge I face and I feel confident that we can motivate everybody, not only the players but also the structure. I feel confident I can respond to the ambitions of the supporters and the ambitions of the owner and the administration.
Explain your philosophy for how your teams play.
We are a technical staff that focuses a lot on unlocking potential. Everybody has a little bit more to give and in day-to-day life, that is how everybody progresses in their careers. We feel that the players are the same and you have to stimulate them and motivate them to look for the things that they didn't try before. We are a technical staff that incentivises a lot of freedom of choice because in the end when the players are on the pitch, they face different situations that they have to solve without the help of their manager.
That this is the kind of stimulus that we want the players to have, responsibility and making decisions, because in the end the game is decided by them on the pitch. It is a clashing together of two good organisations and in the end it is the relationship between all of our players that can lead us to success, and that is what I want to work on.
Are you likely to play the same formation at Chelsea as at Porto?
It is not a question of only formation, that would be too narrow. The game is very chaotic and very frenetic and sometimes it doesn't run as good as you want and maybe when you don't expect it to run in a certain way it runs very, very well. The most important thing is for people to be involved again with the first team and to feel there is change going on, to feel a new leadership and to feel a new way of communicating, and to excite people, excite the players, excite the supporters and try to create empathy with everybody to reach success.
It is much more about players, motivation and raising new ambitions for the future than the arrival of one man to change everything, because I don't want to change everything. Our past reflects extreme success so let's keep it that way.
Is there pressure to innovate to stay ahead?
It is not only in football, in modern society you have to be able to constantly adapt yourself and to look for innovations everywhere. When we were first at Chelsea we felt we were bringing a new methodology into football but there is no running away from it, in football you can be successful in various different ways. With a good methodology and with a bad methodology, old-fashioned or not, in the end it is the essence of the players and their quality that can bring you success.
We just feel that we can relate everything together to be successful. Of course you have to be innovative and you have investigate, you have to constantly adapt to be at the standard of the most-watched league in the world. There is a high, high standard in the Premier League and European football and we want to keep on the route to success. This is a club that has been used to being successful and we have to keep it that way and challenge ourselves to keep the habit to win and then win again the year after.
Have you had any contact yet from the players you already know?
Yes, a couple of them and it is good to feel they are around and to feel their expectations. Everybody is excited and everybody is looking forward to starting again and this is something positive. We need to get the group back together and to feel them and then go on from there and face every single game as a game we have to win and fight for it with our upmost desire.
Some of the backroom staff remain from your last time here which must help you settle.
It is good to see a lot of people that are still here. This helps me to move around and I know the qualities that they have. There are so many people that I know that represented a lot to me, and a lot to the club, and they know the way I am and the way that I approach them. It is good to see them again and it helps to face this new challenge in a more concentrated and focused way.
On a personal note, last time you lived in central London. Will you do so again?
London is a city that offers so many things up to the highest standard and I am sure that coming back to London for my family and the families of my technical staff is something that is easy to adapt to. I always like to live in the city.
Is motor racing still a big interest?
This is one of the passions I have apart from football and I try to follow it around when I can. Of course free time is impossible when you are in such a demanding sport like football and particularly with a challenge like Chelsea and the Premier League, but it something that here and there I will keep an eye on with much interest.
We tour Asia this summer. Are you looking forward to that?
With Chelsea I went to Korea when we reached an agreement with Samsung and we had a good experience then, and one year I was scouting at the Barclays Asia Trophy because Chelsea were soon to play Portsmouth or Liverpool and I was there scouting them in Hong Kong. It is good to go there and keep broadening our brand and our name.
Going back to Asia is important for us. It shortens the distance with the Asian public who are following us from a big distance. It is important for them to feel we have respect for them and we are able to feel their heat. I am sure they will give us tremendous support for the games we will have over there.
How important is the pre-season training?
We are a technical staff who don't change radically the way that we work from pre-season to the rest of the season. We take everything as the whole of what the game is. It is a game that expresses itself at the same time physically, psychologically and technically, and when that happens you have to train like that.
There is no aggressive focus on fitness in pre-season, there is no splitting of the different characteristics of the game. We like to approach everything together and it is nothing new because it is in line with what Jose did before when he was here and maybe the other managers with the work that they did. We are not going to go crazy in pre-season, we just like for the people to get back together and face the challenges for the season.
The most important thing that the club has done for pre-season is make sure in Asia we have the facilities that allow you to train and with a good distance from the hotel to the training facility, respecting the rest periods and the training periods. Then we can play the games to get the team back together.
You are starting work today. What can you achieve before the players return?
There are a lot of dossiers to focus on and I will be sitting down with people. There are lot of things that I would like to do and a lot of people who I would like to speak to, people who have a big impact on the running of this club and step by step we want to make sure everything is right to start in July.