With Roy Hodgson seemingly on his way out of Anfield, speculation is rife as to who will be his successor. As expected, the usual suspects in terms of household managerial names are doing the rounds in the papers; the likes of Rijkaard, Hiddink and Martin O'Neill continue having their names linked with the soon to be vacant managerial position at Anfield.
However, NESV's arrival at Anfield along with their innovative outlook, has resulted in a shortlist of relatively unknown managers being continually linked to the Liverpool managers job. Jurgen Klopp, Ralf Rangnick, and Andre Villas Boas being those receiving the most attention in the national media. With Guus Hiddink being the only available household name worth considering in my opinion, a lot of excitement is beginning to surround the names of the relative unknowns of the managerial world, particularly that of Andre Villas Boas.
In just six months as manager of FC Porto, Villas Boas has done his reputation immeasurable amounts, particularly as outside of Portugal it's fair to say his reputation was non-existent prior to his appointment as manager. At the age of 33, with no prior experience of top-flight management, Villas Boas has become one of the hottest properties in world football. Like any young Portugese manager with great potential and no previous footballing experience, the Jose Mourinho comparisons have become somewhat inevitable.
A former scout and assistant to Mourinho, Villas Boas has come into the spotlight in quite spectacular fashion. The last few years has seen Porto become less of a threat in European competition whilst also losing their stranglehold on the Portugese League they became accustomed to winning. Along with the sale of Bruno Alves and Raul Miereles, Porto lost two of their best players, they were expected to fall further away in the running for the title. Twelve wins out of fourteen so far this season suggests Villas Boas has every chance of winning the title with his new team. He currently holds an 89% win ratio in all games in his short time at Porto, a remarkable record for a young man new to the high pressure environment of big club management. To those about to question his credentials when things aren't going so well, you only have to look at the job he did at Academica, his first managerial job, who were rock bottom of the league without a win until he took over and subsequently secured an eleventh placed finish, with a run to the semi-finals of the Portuguese cup thrown in for good measure.
His short career so far certainly suggests he is a Mourinho in the making, but would he be the right man for Liverpool? If the rumours are to be believed, NESV are keen to employ a young up and coming manager and Villas Boas certainly fits the bill in that respect. With regards to Liverpool though, this may a big step too soon for the young man. Despite his CV looking too good to be true, the step up to the Premier League would be a huge one for him. The pressure and expectancy on his shoulders from the media and the fans would be enormous and could prove, as it has done in the past, debilitating for certain managers. Particularly in a league which is considerably more competitive than the Portugal's Premier Division. On the other hand, although in hugely different circumstances, a novice manager like Pep Guardiola has coped and succeeded under massive pressure from fans and the media; he was a risk who truly paid off.
His age may also cause concern for some, particularly those in the dressing room. A manager younger than certain members of the playing squad may have difficulties earning his team's respect, particularly when that manager hasn't achieved at the highest level; something many Liverpool players have been used to in recent years, Hodgson aside. For those that argue that Guardiola hadn't, I imagine his reputation within Barcelona was already fairly formidable given his illustrious playing career and close ties to the club and city.
The free-flowing, attacking football Villas Boas has got Porto playing would be well received by the Anfield faithful. However, the English and Portuguese games have major differences. Portugal is a nation that arguably nurtures more technically gifted players than England, and along with the physical nature of the Premier League that many foreign managers struggle to begin with, and this may cause significant problems for a relatively inexperienced coach like Villas Boas. Another problem that has caused great difficulty for foreign managers in England is the language barrier. This could possibly be a reason Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are rumoured to be so much in favour of British managers. Fluent in English, Andre Villas Boas would jump over that huge hurdle before even arriving at Anfield.
Despite recently signing a new contract with Porto, I’m sure John Henry and Co. won’t abandon their recently acquired knowledge regarding the worthlessness of footballing contracts, and still try to attempt to get him on board despite his commitments. Any man or club has their price, and although he may perceive the Liverpool job to be too early in his career, working for Liverpool would turn any manager’s head.
Unfortunately, Liverpool may have had a better chance capturing him six months ago, as the potential for success he has displayed at Porto in his short time there will have interested a lot of clubs. It is probable this man will have more than one offer on his table next summer.
A young, forward-thinking, charismatic Portuguese manager with a similarly analytical and academic background as Mourinho, already proving to be a success in his homeland whilst playing attractive, attacking football does sound quite appealing. Combined with fitting NESV’s specification immaculately he looks like a more than interesting candidate. I, for one, would be prepared to take the risk.
Submitted by Some Team Up North