5 July ~ André Villas-Boas’s move to Chelsea naturally provoked a wide gamut of reactions in Portugal. FC Porto fundamentalists were rabid. Author and columnist Miguel Sousa Tavares penned an article in sports daily A Bola headlined Desertion, dripping with the hurt of betrayal. He pointed out that Villas-Boas had been a virtual nobody before being given a chance at Porto, with club president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa shouldering all the risk in hiring him. Villas-Boas wouldn’t have done anything, Sousa Tavares suggested, without the club’s organisation, solid structure and culture of victory, plus a ready-made (and terrific) team.
He warned of the exodus that might be triggered by Villas-Boas’s perceived “every man for himself and fuck the club” attitude, with key players Hulk, Falcao, Álvaro Pereira and James Rodríguez likely future targets for the big European sharks. “He leaves enriched [monetarily] but impoverished [morally]. May he live in peace with his millions.”
Villas-Boas was on the moral low ground for many posters on the forums, too. When club captain Helton called for Portugal en masse to thank Villas-Boas, one poster on website Maisfutebol echoed Sousa Tavares: “It’s he that has to thank Porto for bringing him into the limelight... but we’ve seen his gratitude.” Another questioned the provenance of his new-found wad: “That’s the money you’re going to use to buy the food that you lift to your children’s mouths.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, it was mainly Porto fans who were taking the high ground. Neutrals in a country in deep economic shit could respect the financial rationale behind Villas-Boas’s decision – he will earn €5 million (£4.5m) a year – and those fans of the other two Grandes, Benfica and Sporting, who supported the move will have done so with a sense of relief that this time around they might be given a vague chance of trophies.
Before the signing, and badgered by journalists keen for confirmation, Porto’s jowly president Pinto da Costa allowed himself to get a little prickly: “The coach can go to China or the Seychelles, he can go wherever he likes… as long as they pay the transfer fee.” Once it was all done and dusted, though, he was back to his normal phlegmatic self. “Angry? Me? No. I’m not easily hurt. If I fell from the seventh floor of a building, that would hurt me.”
No sooner was Villas-Boas out of the door than Pinto da Costa was presenting his successor, erstwhile assistant Vítor Pereira, who A Bola described as “Villas-Boas’s right-hand man, and some would say left-hand, too”. With skilful sleight of hand, the president implied that all had been planned a month-and-a-half before what A Bola called the Villas Bombshell! when he had approached Pereira during a visit by Villas-Boas to London.
Pereira was quick to mark his territory: “André didn’t win on his own. I drank from his experience, but he also drank from mine.” Pinto da Costa wished Villas-Boas the best of luck for the future: “I hope that he wins the title in England, I hope that he wins always, as long as it’s not against us. And that he draws against José Mourinho, who’s my friend.” Phil Town