Football loves a good narrative. Even if it reflects reality in a fun-house mirror of grotesquely magnified successes and failures.
With the Europa League upon us—that Champions League after-party reserved for football’s hardcore, eager to hoover up a line of fixtures only a punter could love—
all a small cluster of bespectacled eyes will be on Andre Villas-Boas. The Spurs manager will lead Tottenham tonight against Lazio, an occasion that afforded two talented football writers an opportunity to correct the public record on the former Porto and Chelsea manager.
Andi Thomas’ blisteringly good read at Football365 reveals a man undone in part at Chelsea for failing to court the English press. Thomas writes, “Redknapp made the press his friends, and Mourinho made them his fangirls; Villas-Boas seems genuinely not to understand why they exist, much less why they keep bothering him.”
This indifference encouraged the media (definite article) to extrapolate from a few legitimate failings—Villas-Boas’ tactical rigidity, his obscurantism, his lack of tact with the Chelsea old guard—to create a caricature resembling an Abed Nadir-like savant. This culminated in Ian McGarry’s awful description of AVB as “borderline Aspergers.” Once over-hyped as the reincarnation of Rinus Michels, Andre Villas-Boas has for some become Oswald Bates.
During Villas-Boas’ Roman Passion at Stamford Bridge, least one member of the football media attempted a reality-based portrayal of the manager. Jonathan Wilson today on Fox Soccer stands by his earlier criticisms: that AVB “… is inexperienced. His glory year at Porto was almost too glorious; he won the league dropping only four points, cruised to the Portuguese Cup and, impressive as he seemed in press conferences, his side had a remarkably easy run to Europa League success.”
But Wilson also sees in Villas-Boas a changed man, who “…is not pushing his defensive line as high, slowly managing the transition rather than simply imposing his will.” He has clearly learned how not to deal with the press, and that—for better or worse—their official story of his time at Spurs may be an illusion, but one that carries real consequences for his future.
Vancouver Whitecaps set to give keeper Brad Knighton starting spot.
Montreal Impact don’t have any easy road to the playoffs.
Canadian women’s bronze medalist Kaylyn Kyle talks about her Olympic fame.
Alan Pardew admits Demba Ba could leave Newcastle in January.
Brendan Rodgers confirms Jamie Carrragher still has a future at Liverpool.
Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel apologizes for his costly error.
Arsenal’s Vito Mannone believes spell at Hull City helped his development.
Roberto Di Matteo disappointed with Juventus draw.
‘ I wanted Van Persie to take the penalty’ – Sir Alex Ferguson
Roy Hodgson wants a winter break in English football.
West Brom’s Shane Long promises not to celebrate if he scores against former club Reading.
Manchester City players back Joe Hart.
Manchester United v Galatasary – Match Report
Manchester United v Galatasary – Player Ratings
Wayne Rooney could make shock comeback against Liverpool.
Samir Nasri set to miss one month with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea v Juventus – Match Report
Chelsea v Juventus – Match Ratings
According to his agent jobless Rafael Benitez would list to any AC Milan offer.
Inter Milan’s Dejan Stankovic will undergo another surgery on his Achilles tendon.
Another one bites the dust? Santos confirm interest in Milan’s Robinho.
Barcelona v Spartak Moscow – Match Report
Barcelona v Spartak Moscow - Player Ratings
Gerard Pique out for up to four weeks with a foot injury.
Spanish clubs lower tax bill for the first time in decades.
Bayern Munich v Valencia – Match Report
Bayern Munich v Valencia – Player Ratings
FIFA set to investigate Milan Badelj’s transfer to Hamburg.
Former German international Tim Borowski forced to retire due to injuries.
Bits and Bobs
Watch how Sir Alex Ferguson reached 100 Champions League wins.
The best Jose Mourinho celebrations.
Zlatan got a little too happy after becoming the first player to score for six different clubs in the Champions League…take a close look
Video of Galatasaray fans welcoming Manchester United to Istanbul (1993).
Nani’s horrible stutter step penalty.
If you’ve been wondering what Mikael Silvestre has been doing, well, here you go.
Thanks to Michael Tomasone for compiling today’s links.