SO THIS MORNING I read a piece (of shit, if you will) on SkySports about Andre Villas-Boas with this subtitle: "Andre Villas-Boas believes he is entitled to take some of the credit for Chelsea's success last season and hopes to achieve similar feats at Tottenham Hotspur." (Emphasis added by me.) If you already dislike (or HATE if you must) AVB for some reason, that subtitle will definitely make your blood boil. Even if you don't have any strong feelings, one way or another, about the former Chelsea manager, that sentence will make you say, "Wait a minute! Is this guy CRAZY?"
Funnily enough, those are exactly the type of reactions the writer/editor of that piece (of shit, if you are still up for it) wanted from you, the readers. We will talk about why they would want that to be the case later but let's see what AVB actually said.
"For Chelsea to have won the FA Cup and the Champions League, it means we were still present in those competitions at that time (of sacking). The squad was being put in place towards the future and the owner took the decision, which I have to respect, but I never accept it. I was very honoured that I was able to put that team together. You could say part of what they achieved is also down to that squad being put together by myself, but what was done after was down to Robbie's work and the work of those magnificent players. It was never a one person failure and I will never take it like that. You always learn from experience. Chelsea was not so gratifying in terms of success, but it was very gratifying professionally for me. I have learned from a couple of things I did wrong, and also you have to trust the right people at the right time. This gathering with Tottenham gives me even more stability towards the future."That is the totality of AVB's words quoted and sprinkled all over the article. The first sentence says he was still in charge when Chelsea were still in the two competitions they end up winning at the end. It is a factual statement and he should get credit for what he did for the club up to that point in those competitions. But is he suggesting that he would have won these cups if he weren't sacked? It is possible, but it would also be a cynical stretch of the imagination.
The second sentence says he disagree with the decision of the club to sack him. Well, by show of hands, who likes being fired?
The third and the fourth seem to go together. And it is the fourth that SkySports has tuned into -- they even made it Quote of the Week! If I may repeat,
"You could say part of what they achieved is also down to that squad being put together by myself, but what was done after was down to Robbie's work and the work of those magnificent players."If you only read the part of that sentence before "but", you get exactly what the subtitle says -- AVB thinks he is entitled for Chelsea's success. However, it is crucial to read the whole sentence, especially when it has two parts that are connected by a "but," suggesting one part of the sentence is exactly the opposite of what the speaker intends by the whole sentence. "You could say X, but it's actually Y" means "I endorse Y". Therefore, the Portuguese essentially said, rather diplomatically, that the success of Chelsea after he was sacked was all down to Di Matteo and the players.
The rest of the quote is not that relevant to the point of this post but it is fair to say that there is a hint of bitterness in what AVB has said. By saying "It was never a one person failure and I will never take it like that," he seems to imply that the failure of his tenure was down to both him and the players, in the same way that the success after his management was down to both Di Matteo and the players. But it is not something to get your pitch forks out for. We were be a bit bitter too if we were in his position.
It is also helpful to remember that this came out of an interview/press conference, not a written statement composed for the occasion by Villas-Boas. That means he was more than likely to be responding to questions posed to him, like say, "Do you, Mr. Villas-Boas, take credit for the success Chelsea had after you were sacked?" Or worse: "Do you take credit since you are the one who put the team together in the first place?" A leading question asked to get a controversial quote? Now, why would they do such a thing?
It gets a rise out of people who will read and spread this article now. But it will also add to the list of "talking points" before, during and after every match between Tottenham and Chelsea come the new season. It's good for the media now and the future to have that narrative going. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of reasons for Chelsea fans to either dislike or criticize Villas-Boas but this is not one. His quotes do not suggest malice and arrogance that SkySports claims they do. Someone's trying to start a fire; don't get burned.
Carefree, wherever you may be...