• Tom Grant

Five Reasons Why André Villas-Boas Should Be The Next Man in the Celtic Hotseat

A week past Sunday at Tannadice, Celtic surrendered the SPFL league trophy for the first time in a decade.

It’s been a season that the green half of Glasgow will be keen to forget and file under the ‘don’t remind me’ box in their minds.

And now the rebuilding job begins, now that the dream of ten-in-a-row has officially gone.

It seems any manager who isn’t in a job at the moment is being thrown into the discussion of next Celtic manager.

The front runner seems to change daily with Chris Wilder the current bookies favourite after he departed Sheffield United.

But here at Affside Ref! we think the Celtic board should be looking a little bit left-field and seriously consider André Villas-Boas as the man charged with wrestling back the league trophy.

He’s A Bit Of That ‘Hollywood’ Name The Fans Are Looking For

Brendan Rodgers arrived in Scotland and straight away lifted the mood of the Celtic fans. He had that razzmatazz about him. That aura.

And the same could be said about André Villas-Boas.

The man has an impressive CV with stints in charge of the likes of Porto, Chelsea, Tottenham and Marseille.

He’s also worked closely with Jose Mourinho and was famously tasked with compiling the match report on Celtic ahead of the 2003 UEFA Cup final for the then Porto manager.

His Strong Managerial Record

AVB has had a unique journey into football management.

At the age of 16, he found himself living in the same apartment complex as the late Sir Bobby Robson. At the time, Robson was in charge of Porto and the pair struck up a conversation about the club. Robson was so impressed with AVB following the debate he appointed him to Porto’s observation department.

This was the start of a journey that would lead to that eager Portuguese youngster becoming manager of some of the worlds most esteemed clubs.

After his spell as Mourinho’s scout at Porto, he took his first steps as a manager in his own right when he left to take charge of Académica.

The club was bottom of Portugal’s top flight when AVB took charge midway through the season. They finished in 11th place, ten points clear of the relegation zone.

AVB’s introduction of a new style had worked. His impact was immediate. It wasn’t just the results that had impressed everyone in Portugal, but the attractive football on display.

He replaced Mourinho at Porto and led the club to an unbeaten season and a treble including a European trophy.

His Chelsea stint will go down as a failure, but he was fighting a losing battle with the infamous player power that consumed the club at the time.

At Spurs, Villas-Boas left the club with the highest percentage of league wins of any Tottenham manager in the club’s Premier League era and at the time achieved their highest ever points total.

Following his spell in north London, AVB rocked up in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg. Again he brought success, winning the 2015 Russian Premier League and then the Russian Cup in 2016.

He didn’t win any silverware in his short time in China but is credited with turning Shanghai SIPG into genuine title contenders.

Villas-Boas recently left Marseille but had them in second when the league was stopped due to the global pandemic, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in six years.

His Connection to Scotland

It was clear that from the start of their relationship, Sir Bobby Robson was fond of Villas-Boas.

Robson arranged for AVB to obtain his coaching qualification in Scotland.

He began in UEFA C Coaching Licence in the seaside town Largs, on the west coast.

And he completed the course at the tender age of just 17, an age he could easily have been distracted by some famous mischief-makers from the Scottish game.

“I remember Ian Durrant, Ally McCoist, John McGlynn, John Robertson and John Collins, plus many more. We had a few adventures. There are plenty of bars in Glasgow!” said Villas-Boas.

Surviving a night out with some of those names is an achievement itself, yet he credits the Scottish coaching system with moulding his success. He added “I think I owe my upbringing as a coach to Scotland – from Largs to Stirling, Glasgow to Edinburgh. I’ve been everywhere throughout this process and picked up a bit of the Scottish language along the way

He’s Managed Across Europe

What’s unique about the Celtic managerial search is that there is no standout pick from the list of names mentioned.

But there are murmurs that the likes of Eddie Howe or the aforementioned Wilder should be given the reins in Glasgow due to their records with Bournemouth and Sheffield United respectively.

Yes, both have navigated the tough English Championship and also managed to keep both clubs in the English Premier League – for a while.

But Howe was in charge last season when ‘The Cherries’ were relegated and Wilder left United with the club on the brink of relegation.

The main goal of the new Celtic gaffer would undoubtedly be to stop Rangers from building on their recent title win.

But European football is also cherished by the Celtic faithful and qualifying for the group stage of at least the Europa League (although preferably the Champions League) would be the minimum expected.

What real European experience could either Howe or Wilder call on when faced with that pressure?

Villas-Boas has not only managed abroad but competed at the highest levels of European football as a manager. He’s also the youngest winner of a European trophy.

His Chance To Rebuild His Reputation in England

It’s hard to get away from the comparisons between AVB and Brendan Rodgers.

Both had shining managerial standing in the billionaires playground that is the English Premier League.

Whether Celtic fans would like to concede or not, Rodgers used his time at Celtic to rebuild that standing after it had taken a considerable hit after his Liverpool side had blown the title in 2014.

Despite an impressive season with Spurs in 2013, AVB left England as a failure. Unable to win anything with two big clubs.

He might be tempted to use the Rodgers resurrection as a marker for his own career trajectory.

At 43, the chance to win trophies, build a winning squad and overcome a strong Rangers side might be just what he needs. He’s still extremely young in terms of football managers and might yet see himself sitting at the helm of Europe’s top clubs once again.

Written by Tom Grant