Another case of ‘tutor versus pupil’ re-emerges when Jose Mourinho’s new look Chelsea engages Andres Villas-Boas’ ‘Lilly Whites’ a White Hart Lane on Saturday. It is the first game between the pair, who were together between 2002 and 2009, when the now Tottenham Hotspur boss worked as an assistant to Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
Their personal relationship would count less just as Villas-Boas intimated on Thursday and it will be all about the round leather game for the whole of 90 minutes.
When asked how much his broken relationship with Mourinho mattered to the game, Villas-Boas said: “In my opinion not a lot. I would say that we should, in my opinion, be secondary figures to a spectacular game that means a lot to the fans and much more to the players.”
Tottenham have started the league season well with the best defensive record in any of Europe’s top five leagues, having conceded once in their opening five matches, while none of Chelsea’s attackers have managed to score so far this season.
Spurs and the ‘Blues’ sit second and fourth behind league leaders Arsenal and the winner of tomorrow’s early afternoon kickoff could go top of the log for less than five hours pending the outcome of ‘Gunners’ trip to Swansea late on. Bearing a draw means Chelsea have equaled one of their lowest tallies after six games in a season in Roman Abramovich’s era- the 2007/08 season when Mourinho was in charge, the other being the 2011/12 Villas-Boas’ short spell.
Football has its way of binding and breaking ties and the Tottenham boss told L’Equipe magazine that his countryman and counterpart come Saturday afternoon never appreciated him as a partner, which most likely prompted his departure to Primeira Liga side Academica de Coimbra in 2009.
Never less, Villas-Boas has no regrets about the breakdown of his friendship with his former mentor and Chelsea boss.
“I don’t lose any sleep,” he said
“We had a great personal and professional relationship before that we don’t have now.”
As for Mourinho, one need not dwell too long on a relationship gone sour. He has said he is moving on and that was the tone of his speech when asked at his pre-match conference on how well he gets along with Villas Boas.
“I don’t discuss this with the media,” Mourinho responded on Friday. “It’s a personal thing. I don’t care what he says. I’m not here to do that. I’m not interested.
The two-time European Cup winning coach expects his compatriot to be professional when they sit on opposing dugouts at White Hart Lane. He wouldn’t turn down a glass of wine from Villas-Boas, should the latter tender an “invitation.”
“I managed a Champions League final against a manager who was important in my career and taught me to grow up and I did it in a professional way. And that is a way you have to do it.
“I have had so many assistants in my career. I was always an open book to them and with the coaches in the academy.
“Will I go for a glass of wine with him (Villas-Boas)? When people invite me I always go I never refuse,” Mourinho added.
“But I have nothing more to say on this.”
So far, Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Erik Lamella have all being good buys for the north London outfit. They’ve made the loss of Gareth Bale look ordinary and have strengthened a side which has been poor against Chelsea in previous meetings.
Since 1990 the clubs have met 55 times in league and cup, with Tottenham winning only five games to Chelsea’s 31. However, Spurs have started to close the gap in recent meetings, with only five losses from the last 14 (W3, L5, D6).
Mourinho has some injury worries to tend to, new Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel is out for a least six months after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Swindon Town on Tuesday while fellow midfielder Ramires also picked up an injury in that match and stands a late fitness test for the local derby.
Juan Mata, who played under AVB in 2011, could make his first league start after impressing Mourinho in the 2-0 win over Swindon on Tuesday.
“I liked the way Juan Mata played against Swindon. His attitude is very good and his effort was good,” Mourinho said.
“When a player makes an effort to come in my direction then I go to him as well. I can imagine from now him working into my way of thinking and I think the natural tendency will for him to be in the team.”
Danny Rose is expected to be an addition for Villas-Boas on his return from injury, but Younes Kaboul is still hampered by a muscle problem.