The Devil Wears Trenchcoats: The Secret History of Andre Villas Boas

Clive Rose

It began in a park in Portugal. It wasn't very large. It was big enough for some trees, a grove, and just enough flat space for a football pitch. The air was cool against the skin and the setting sun bathed the grass in an amber glow. It was here, on a lazy sunday in the fall that Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas saw a football match for the first time. It was here that history's greatest monster decided to destroy the beautiful game.

According to Andre Villas Boas' official biography, he was born in 1977 and grew up in Portugal, learning football at the foot of Bobby Robson. However, careful examination of historical records reveals this to be a lie. The life and legacy of Andre Villas Boas stretches back long before that, leaving a bloody stain on history that has only recently begun to congeal in England.

Historians dispute when Villas Boas' was born, but scholarship indicates his first reliable recorded appearance is at the twilight of the 19th century during the Boxer Rebellion in China. Oral tradition tells of a Portuguese who annihilated a village, leaving only a single girl alive.

In the ruins of her village, she swore revenge upon the ginger Portuguese devil. Upon hearing here, he emerged from his crouch amidst the soot and the ash of her home and walked towards her. "You see," he said. "For you, today was a day of incredible dimension that will be difficult for you to realize again. For me, it was Tuesday."

Villas Boas' legacy extends across the twentieth century like a splatter pattern at a murder scene. Time and time again, the Portuguese can be found crouching alongside the sidelines of history's greatest tragedies. Shortly after a ginger Portuguese inspected the health of returning french soldiers, the influenza epidemic swept through Europe. Records indicate that during the Blitzkrieg, Villas Boas rode a tank and held a generous rank. The rise of Joseph McCarthy could be tied directly to a mysterious Portuguese advisor. His gravely english could be heard as the soundtrack of the summer of 1968.

By the 1970s, Villas Boas had tired of slaughter and atrocity. He had grown bored. It was then that he discovered football. The beauty of the game captivated him. In that moment in that park in Portugal, as he looked upon the joy of those children's faces, he realized he could cause more hurt and pain through this game than he ever could through war, hunger, or famine.

He began small, talking with Bobby Robson and gaining his trust. He found experience with small nations as a coach, then he attached himself to one of world football's brightest rising coaches. Alongside Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, he developed himself as one of football's sharpest tactical minds. Finding ways to destroy the teams faced by Jose's juggernaut was just icing on the cake.

Eventually, the time came that he needed to build his own reputation. Back in his home of Portugal he began forging a name for himself. First at Academia he pulled a team out of relegation, placing them safely in midtable. His credentials suitably proven, he rode his association with the Special One to a job at his "mentor's" former club: Porto. Using his cunning, his ability to exploit the weaknesses of others, and his complete lack of scruples, he drove Porto to a memorable season, conquering all those before him and winning all he could. This, it would seem, was enough. He had the profile, he had the accomplishments, he had the hype. He was ready to take the Special One's place in London.

Roman Abramovich had little idea what he was getting into. The gentle, eccentric Russian billionaire had spent years funneling money into Chelsea football club, trying to bring joy and happiness to West London. His commitment to perfection had led him to go through several managers, but in Villas Boas he thought he'd finally found his dream coach. A manager with the tactical nous of Mourinho and the drive of a young prodigy. Little did the kindly benefactor realize what a viper he had clutched to his breast.

Almost immediately Villas Boas moved to alienate some of Chelsea's most selfless players. Didier Drogba was banned from using the word "I." David Luiz was forced to walk through a field of rakes at training everyday. Ashley Cole was forced to conduct contract negotiations while driving his car. John Terry was required to use condoms. Poor Frank Lampard was not only dropped from the starting XI, but limited to only one pizza a day. Behind the scenes Villas Boas ignored up and comers like Lukaku. However, nothing was as bad as the treatment of Fernando Torres. Villas Boas' torture of the out of form striker was subtle and ongoing. Pictures of Falcao would be left adorning his locker, the sound system would play "You'll Never Walk Alone" while he was alone in the gym, and MLS programs would be left in his pregame tactical instructions.

The disenfranchisement of the players was just the first stage of Villas Boas' scheme. A defensive game of high pressing ill suited to his players, poor substitutions, and tired players led to depressing, defensive football by necessity. Anger, frustration, and hopelessness became the watch words at Stamford Bridge. Amid the misery, the hand of the benevolent Russian was forced and Villas Boas was sacked. In the media circus that followed, few saw what he had done. He had constructed a defensive monstrosity that would live beyond him, like a corpse twitching long after life had left the body. It would stumble on through the Champions League, knocking out one of the finest teams the sport had ever seen on its way to the European Cup, a farce of the highest order.

So, decades after making his vow in that Portuguese park, Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas had succeeded. The beautiful game in shambles. Barcelona dispatched at the height of their glory. Chelsea's organization was more fractured than ever, his reign having left many figures dissatisfied and its owner a paranoid vodka swilling wreck. Their Leeds like self destruction could not be far behind. And this shambling wreck of a team stood atop world football, their primacy exposing the sport as a joke that even those who couldn't admit it had to acknowledge, if only in the pit of their hearts.

Yet, even this was not enough.

Football still flourished. Tickets still sold. English fans still believed their team could win the Euros. American hipsters still pretended that rooting for their own national team was below them. Arsenal fans still paid 92 pounds for the privilege to text inside the Emirates.

And Villas Boas wondered how could this be so? After all he had done at Chelsea, their spirits were still not broken. He had given them the worst European championship the sport had ever seen. It came without goals. It came without flair. It came without skill, style, or care. And Villas Boas puzzled and puzzled til' his puzzler was sore. That's when he realized, "I have to do more."

The heartbreak had clearly not been enough. But how could he ever exceed the delicious despair of John Terry: Champion of Europe? That's when he remember, the ones most heartbroken of all: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Denied a place in the Champions League by Chelsea's success, this would be the instrument of the his wrath. This is club, they would be his masterpiece. He would take this team of underachievers and raise them to heights they had never seen. It would make their fall all the sweeter, and the world's heart would break along with them.

Thankfully there are many brave journalists in England's press who are trying, valiantly to stop this Portuguese's reign of terror. Tragically they are dismissed by the North London faithful as wind up merchants, hacks, and morons. They defend this monster, through the late goals, poor substitutions, and foreign signings, not realizing that they had clutched a viper of a unique dimension to their breast.

And through it all, Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas laughed. He laughed while football burned.

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