FC Porto won the treble last season that included the Portuguese league and cup, and the Europa League. The rarity of such an achievement itself made it a monumental feat, but when you add the fact that they went undefeated in the League – read invincibles – and dropped only 6 points in 30 games while playing football the beautiful way, their triumph transcends the scope of usual football-related superlatives.
Among those highly impressed was Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who promptly shelled out €15m in order to secure the services of Porto’s young manager Andre Villas-Boas. The Russian owner has, over the years, clearly demonstrated his desire for winning the Champions League and for playing an attractive brand of football.
AVB, as he is popularly known, previously had a successful stint as an assistant scout under Mourinho at Chelsea, wherein he even established the rather sinister-sounding Opponent Observation Department. Naturally, the Portuguese manager must have seemed like the perfect choice to lay the foundations for the future and re-engineer the ageing squad in order to accomplish the owner’s targets.
History will record that it didn’t quite work out for the prodigious manager who lasted only 256 days, or even for Abramovich, who must have made another multi-million pound payout even as his side was precariously placed in the Premiership and the Champions League.
As with any failure, many theories have been put forward to explain why it happened. Some have blamed AVB for his tactics while others have hinted at the ill-effects of player power at the Bridge. Abramovich too has come in for his share of criticism as this sacking makes it seven departures in his near decade-long reign. The reality, as is usually the case, is probably a concoction of all these factors in some unknown proportion…
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