Andre Villas-Boas loves Marseille and the French giants’ supporters love him for ending their seven-year absence from the Champions League, during which they host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis this week.
There was a as soon as a time, a decade in the past now, when “AVB” and Pep had been the 2 most coveted coaches in Europe, each profitable European trophies in the identical 2010/11 season in control of Porto and Barcelona respectively.
The younger Villas-Boas shared a number of the identical reference factors as Guardiola. Each crossed paths with Jose Mourinho within the early years of his profession and Bobby Robson was a mentor to each, giving a younger Villas-Boas work within the scouting division at Porto after which making Pep a central a part of his crew at Barcelona.
“AVB” was simply 33 in 2011 when, as Guardiola led Barcelona to the Champions League, he received 4 trophies with Porto together with the Europa League.
His profession didn’t fairly scale the anticipated heights after that. He left for Chelsea however didn’t final the season, and by the point the London membership beat Guardiola’s Barcelona within the Champions League semi-finals en path to profitable the trophy, Roberto di Matteo was in cost.
Their paths didn’t cross then, however they’ll now, with Villas-Boas hoping to outfox Guardiola and injury Metropolis’s European prospects.
Marseille are up in opposition to it after shedding 1-0 to Olympiakos final week, whereas Metropolis beat Porto. However the OM coach is unlikely to have modified the optimistic outlook with which he got here into the marketing campaign.
“We will compete on this group. We won’t be too down after being in Pot 4 when the draw was made,” Villas-Boas informed AFP final week.
“I wish to intention excessive. We dreamt of being on this competitors, so now we’re concentrating on the final 16.”
For Marseille being within the Champions League is a large deal.
France’s best-supported membership stays the one Ligue 1 crew ever to have received the competitors, in 1993.
Though they reached the Europa League ultimate in 2018, OM had been absent from the Champions League for seven years earlier than Villas-Boas led them again there due to a second-place end within the final, curtailed Ligue 1 marketing campaign.
– Emotional attachment –
Appointed in 2019 to return to teaching in Europe, three years after leaving Zenit Saint-Petersburg for China, “AVB” rapidly received over the membership’s followers and so they had been horrified when he almost walked away within the shut season.
Sad at seeing sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta depart, Villas-Boas threatened to go too earlier than being persuaded to remain for the ultimate 12 months of his contract.
Now he might be ready to increase that deal.
“In February we will discuss. The January switch window may have closed and we’ll kind of have the ability to see the place we stand,” he informed AFP.
“A very powerful factor is that I’m very joyful right here. I’m emotionally hooked up to this membership, to its historical past, the gamers who’ve performed right here, its affect in Europe. It is magnificent.”
Villas-Boas has restored delight to Marseille, and with gamers like Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, there may be hope they will take pleasure in extra success this season. Marseille have already overwhelmed PSG for the primary time in 9 years.
It can however not be the identical in opposition to Metropolis with out the presence of 60,000 followers on the Velodrome, one in every of Europe’s most spine-tingling atmospheres.
As a substitute the well being disaster means the stadium can be empty on Tuesday.
“The largest disappointment for us is to return to this competitors and discover ourselves — with OM’s European historical past, two Champions League finals, three finals within the UEFA Cup or Europa League — enjoying with out our followers, when the zeal of the supporters is form of the factor that defines OM,” Villas-Boas stated.
“We weren’t capable of have fun qualifying due to the instances we’re in, and now we will not expertise it with our supporters. That’s powerful.”