DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 18: FC Porto Head Coach, Andre Villas Boas gives instructions from the touchline during the UEFA Europa League Final between FC Porto and SC Braga at Dublin Arena on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Most outlets in Portugal are reporting that the Andre Villas Boas to Chelsea deal is all but done, and now we're starting to get some details out. Here're some interesting tidbits from the Jornal de Noticias:
O Chelsea vai pagar os 15 milhões de euros da cláusula de rescisão e contratar o treinador de futebol do F. C. Porto André Villas-Boas. O treinador aceitou o convite de Abramovich.
Conforme foi noticiado hoje pelo JN, André Villas-Boas vai ganhar cinco milhões de euros por época, um salário idêntico ao que auferia José Mourinho no clube inglês.
André Villas-Boas já terá anunciado à SAD do F. C. Porto a sua decisão de rumar ao clube inglês, que, assim, só terá de pagar o valor da rescisão, disse à Agência Lusa fonte ligada ao processo.
Ok, that doesn't make very much sense, because I don't speak Portuguese. Time to fire up that handy-dandy Google translate machine and see if I can bludgeon it into coherence...
Chelsea will pay a €15M release clause and hire FC Porto coach André Villas-Boas after Roman Abramovich invited him to join the club. JN reported earlier that André Villas-Boas will be on a salary of €5M a year, identical to José Mourinho's wages with Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas has already announced to FC Porto to his decision to head to English club, who thus only have to pay the termination, said the Lusa agency source familiar with the deal.
A €15M fee and €5M a year is an eye-watering sum for a manager, but Villas Boas looks poised to guide Chelsea for the long-haul, his tactical acumen more than making up for his lack of experience. Said experience, presumably, will be provided by Guus Hiddink, who's still expected to move to the club as director of football. Earlier we had imagined that Hiddink would serve as team manager for a year before moving up and allowing someone younger and better suited to club management to step in, but we had heard that plan was to hire a Hiddink/young manager team all along, so it's not a surprise that they're reverting to it.
I don't think anyone was expecting said manager to be Andre Villas Boas, however - most of us were expecting the rather less exciting prospect of Marco van Basten (who I'd still have been happy with, incidentally). You can play up AVB's lack of experience and Chelsea's habit for firing managers all willy-nilly however much you like, but there's still no way to paint this as a bad move for the Blues. Yes he happens to be the same age as Frank Lampard, and yes, he might have a bit of trouble with some of the older members of the Chelsea first team who remember him as a young scout. But those are exactly the sort of players who it's probably ok to marginalise in the upcoming Chelsea rebuild as well as the players who look up to Hiddink the most.
There's a lot of chat about how much of a lease Roman Abramovich will give to Villas Boas after the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti last year, which I think implies a fundamental misreading of Chelsea's managerial situation. Ancelotti represented a last-ditch attempt to milk a Champions League run out of an aging club, and he clearly wasn't the man to conduct a rebuilding effort when the core simply couldn't perform enough to make an impression in Europe. Ancelotti was a short term fix to draw out the lifetime of the mid-00s team, nothing more (no matter how much we might have liked him).
This appointment represents (or should represent) something entirely different. Andre Villas Boas is young and brilliant, and coupled with a hugely respected director of football could easily be the foundation of a new Chelsea dynasty. And for all of Abramovich's foibles, he wouldn't have sanctioned this appointment if he didn't understand that. He might be a very demanding man, but he's not an idiot.
Even if we take away the similarities to Jose Mourinho, the love of Football Manager and self-deprecation, Villas Boas is very much the manager Chelsea need to guide them into the next decade. Assuming we get confirmation from the clubs (which it sounds like we will soon), this is probably the best possible outcome to our managerial dance.