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Ginger managers are rare beasts, successful ginger managers even more so. But that's what we are looking at in Andre Villas-Boas.
Many of us took to him as soon as he arrived at Chelsea. First, there was the squatting. Who couldn't love a man who could do get down on his hunkers like that? Then there were the understated but fashionable mid-length coats and the ginger beard. Then we learned that he'd been appointed by Roman Abramovich in order to overhaul the Chelsea squad, tasked with getting rid of the old, over-paid plodders and we loved him even more for this because we were also sick of them and their massive egos.
Obviously, the Chelsea squad were not so keen on this and set about making his life hell. With the press largely on their side, they undermined him, apparently to their owner's displeasure, which may lie behind the lack of a lucrative new contract to certain chunky, ageing midfielders.
So Andre left Stamford Bridge and the press and media who disliked him - and there were a lot of them - felt very smug indeed. Chelsea won The Big One and everyone involved felt vindicated. By this time, the way Villas-Boas was talked about in some quarters you'd have thought he belonged in a home for the bewildered or the clinically insane. He was 'borderline Aspergers' don't forget. All the black propaganda from those Chelsea players who disliked him was taken and reiterated as gospel by those in the press and media who wanted to be on the side of the powerful and the winner. Never forget this.
But oh how marvellously things change. It's exactly a year since his sacking and now it is Chelsea who are once again in a maelstrom of their own inadequacy and Mr V-B who is smiling and loved. The power has shifted and with it the press and media's affections. Suddenly, Villas-Boas looks like a winner, so you won't hear him called 'borderline Aspergers' anymore.
The pathetic, manufactured stories of crisis which plagued his first few months at Spurs have also evaporated. Shamefully, he was treated as something between a joke and fool when he returned to take the reins at White Hart Lane. But not anymore. Those who did that previously have changed their tune.
'We may have been wrong about Andre Villas-Boas' said the Mail's Matt Lawton. Yes Matt, yes you were and we told you that at the time. Villas-Boas arrived in England with a tremendous record, but it had all happened abroad and as we know, that's a foreign country and not The Best League In The World and thus discounted by some of the small island minds.
The campaign against the man at Chelsea was heinous enough but the first few months of his tenure at Spurs was a shameful exercise in bullying and bigotry by the press. Time and again press and pundits sneered and wriggled and asked with astonishment 'why did they get rid of 'arry to replace him with this loser who couldn't handle things at Chelsea?'.
Precisely because Villa-Boas had taken Harry Redknapp's job, he was a problem from the start for so many in the press. Who did he think he was coming over here and stealing our man's job? The sound of knuckles being dragged was loud and proud. Even now, his success by some is largely laid at his predecessor's door by those who cannot stomach the fact that a modern, progressive, successful manager is developing before our eyes.
The fact that Tottenham had one of their best starts to a season was ignored as though it was nothing. It didn't fit the picture they still wanted to paint of a man over-promoted, lucky to get this big job and not fit to shine the Redknapp shoes. He beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and it was dismissed as a fluke whereas if his predecessors had done so, you can be sure it would have been portrayed as an illustration of genius. Indeed, Redknapp still gets the credit for Gareth Bale's development, which is a perverse re-working of the historical facts.
They made up rubbish about his 'crisis' over Hugo Lloris' exclusion, when no problem ever existed. Indeed, now those same critics are saying he handled the transition from a 40-year-old keeper being first-team choice to the French international being first-team choice, immaculately.
The volte face in the media about Andre had to happen because his critics now held all the losing cards. But their attitude should not be forgotten. It was unreasonable, ignorant and wilfully nasty. I'm sure Mr V-B knows this and also knows that his newly acquired admirers in the press are the same two-faced knife-in the-back merchants who previously made his life so difficult. The rest of us always knew he was an intelligent, educated, well-versed and inspirational man - that he was perhaps the anti-Redknapp and maybe, deploying our own bigotry somewhat, that's why we liked him. As Chelsea beat themselves up over Rafa Benitez and can't decide if they love or hate Roman, how they must wish their players' selfishness had not caused the departure of this excellent coach.
He may not be the Special One but The Ginger One has a similarly bright future ahead of him.
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