In his early months at Chelsea, Andre Villas-Boas threw himself into the numerous specifics of the club. Being observational and tactical was synonymous with his name — the undertakings were so specific and the outcomes expected were immediate. However, within 8 months in charge, he was let go off.
The £13.3m man was sacked. He was lost in the customary flow of tactical implementations, which did not suit Chelsea’s style eventually making erroneous decisions, and pushing for plans that did not make sense.
The drawback with this, of course, was that AVB’s role required him to be a strategist rather than a tactician. To do that, he had to let go of many of the previous learning’s from his time at Porto and Academia. He had to free his mind and focus on matters beyond what’s scribbled on a white board. More commonly, he needed to implement a strategic mind-set, which includes acquiring an ability to manage people and crunch moments that may arise.
God’s were in his favor as he recently replaced Harry Redknapp as Tottenham Hotspurs new manager. A second coming of a sort.
How does one develop such a mind-set? Three important factors come to play here.
AVB will need to cultivate his ability to move gracefully through issues that may arise at the club – an immediate concern being that of Modric’s reluctance on coming back to the Tottenham. He will need to differentiate between the details and the big picture, and figure out a way to relate the two.
Secondly, he needs to distinguish the significant fundamental relationships and other meaningful patterns that exist in the club and in its environment. Something that he failed to identify at Chelsea, as he neglected the Old Guard – the few that were part of a group that had taken the club to the fame it currently enjoys.
Lastly, he needs to be mentally strong and foresee how third parties (opposition coaches, the media, and key members in the industry) will respond to what he does, to calculate their actions and responses in order to outline the best possible feedback. He had not been aware of the various ill effects that his actions were having on the club morale at Chelsea.
There’s no doubt that White Hart Lane will provide the right environment for AVB to improve on his strategic thinking. As like any other skill, it can be improved with training. But the aptitude to recognize the factors mentioned above involves some natural tendency as well.
Now is the time for AVB to learn from his earlier mistakes and prove himself in English football, yet again. To start off with, he will need to analyze the various courses of action with his staff, in regards to keeping an unsettled player like Modric in the squad. The basics of football and club patronage suggest only one outcome — if a player is not interested in staying at a club anymore, he is not worth keeping. If AVB and Chairman Daniel Levy understand this, it will be a move both will not live to regret.