The new Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, yesterday began his Stamford Bridge reign in markedly different style to his mentor and predecessor Jose Mourinho, saying: “I don't see the game as a one-man show.”
The 33-year-old former Porto coach promised “new leadership” and emphasised the importance of unifying the club, in what would appear to be a calculated attempt to distance himself from the egotistical Mourinho, who began his Chelsea career by delivering the famous line: “Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a Special One.”
Villas-Boas does not speak with Mourinho any more, after the apprentice walked out of Internazionale to start his own managerial career in Portugal in 2009, and has been at pains to stake out his own case, while at the same time hailing his former mentor as the “best manager in the world.”
In contrast to the bombastic style of Mourinho, Villas-Boas attempted to play down the significance of his arrival at Chelsea.
Villas-Boas, who becomes the seventh manager to work under Abramovich, said: “Don't expect something from one man. Expect us to create a group dynamic of everybody getting together, with the fans getting together, with people getting excited with the motivation that is in and around us.
“In the new way of communicating and the new leadership — this is the most important thing. It is not about my arrival. It is about the continuous success of this club.
“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.”
Not the Special One then, but certainly the Chosen One, after Roman Abramovich stumped up the £13.3m to Porto to release him from his contract.
Villas-Boas has first-hand experience of the high standards demanded by Abramovich, having been part of Mourinho's entourage of assistants who were dismissed in September 2007 after the club failed to win either the Champions League or the Premier League.
He said yesterday he accepts the responsibility for leading Chelsea to major trophies, and with that comes the consequences for failure, as Carlo Ancelotti discovered to his cost a month ago when he was sacked on the final day of the season.
“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,” he said.
“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.” Villas-Boas accepted the comparisons with Mourinho, but insisted that was not the reason he has been appointed by Chelsea.
The Chosen One, maybe, but not the Special One.
He said: “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.
“Our past reflects extreme success so let's keep it that way.”
Villas-Boas, who has signed a three-year deal on wages of £4.5m a year, said he had spoken to players he knows from his previous spell in charge.
“Everybody is excited and everybody is looking forward to starting again and this is something positive,” he said.
“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.”