The one thing Andre Villas-Boas would have barely envisioned while preparing dossiers for Sir Bobby Robson would be landing a £11 million annual salary at a club.
That is exactly what his contract at Shanghai SIPG reveals.
This would be Villas-Boas’ sixth club where he would be taking over the reins, having just finished his fifth stint with the Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg.
Villas-Boas, as he went about making a name for himself, would always be remembered as Jose Mourinho’s greatest apprentice. He resembled much of his master, especially when it came to wearing knee-long jackets and living a life in the fast lane.
Villas-Boas was a man of many ambitions, something which gave him an opportunity to work with the legendary Bobby Robson.
Had it not been for Robson, his managerial dreams would have long been over. He got what he wanted, from preparing dossiers for Robson and then moving to the UK to get his UEFA coaching licenses at Ipswich and finally working with Jose Mourinho for six long years.
However, the red-nosed Portuguese was audacious as well. He set out on his own path, walking away from Mourinho’s shadows.
He used his popularity in Portugal, having worked with another native prodigy, he landed a job at Academica.
Half a season was all it needed for Villas-Boas turn around Academica’s fortunes. From a relegation-jeopardised position, he salvaged them to a tenth-place finish, perhaps the only time in his career where he had to grind out results with a mediocre outfit. Besides, he even took them to the semi-final of the domestic cup as well.
In Portugal, that reputation was a standout and luck fell in his favour.
Vacancies at top Portuguese clubs like Sporting CP and Porto gave him an ideal opportunity to establish his name. Besides, there were no guarantee Academica would evade relegation again.
Porto was a team already built by their ex-boss Jesualdo Ferreira. All Villas-Boas had to do was to motivate his pack to lift the domestic title, which they missed the previous season.
Spearheaded Joao Moutinho, Silvestre Varela, Falcao and Hulk, nothing was impossible. The results came in with a flash as they trampled every opposition that beset their path.
Though the treble was incredible for Porto, but very few looked into the quality of the team at Villas-Boas’ disposal.
However, Villas-Boas wanted to emulate what his mentor accomplished while drawing as much of attention to his own gestures.
He wasted no time filling for Carlo Ancelotti’s vacancy at Chelsea that drew massive front-page headlines with a release clause of £13.3 million, offered by Chelsea to effectively activate his new contract at Stamford Bridge. A £4.4 million annual salary was offered which barely paid any dividends seven months later.
In Chelsea’s history, that was perhaps the worst ever transfer move, after Fernando Torres’ £50 million buy-out clause. Such was the contract that Villas-Boas was paid another £12 million severance payout on his dismissal.
And for what?
He pushed Chelsea to the brink of Champions League elimination against Napoli and they were struggling at seventh in the table on the day of his sacking.
Yet for Villas-Boas, his money and his luck were yet intact.
He lived a life in the fast lane and in five months’ time, he had another fancy job in London again, as he took over from Harry Redknapp at Tottenham.
Despite a mediocre start, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale revived the season for Tottenham. Villas-Boas even gave glimpses of his best of managerial abilities. Yet he fluttered again. A quarter-final knockout in Europa League to Basel and another Europa League finish in the Premier League table, derailed his rally.
Yet the headlines never left Tottenham. Gareth Bale’s departure the following season, with the arrival of seven new recruits, including top billings from Roberto Soldado to Christian Eriksen and his fall-out with Emanuel Adebayor were all that spelled doom for him. Nothing worked, goals did not come and a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool had all but ended his time in England.
Howsoever disappointed he was, he knew there was no reason to stay in England or in western Europe, he immediately took a sabbatical and headed east to Russia, where Gazprom-owned footballing giants Zenit St.Petersburg were waiting for him.
As luck would have it, his reputation was intact as he was young.
He once said to a journalist he would have ten years in management and then he would go into car rally sports.
So his time in Russia began with a fortune of a contract.
“A fixed salary of 8.5 million euros has been agreed with Villas-Boas per season, while he will also be in line for bonuses for certain results”, a source familiar with transfer negotiations told the Russian news agency.
The results arrived from the second season onwards with a title triumph, followed by Champions League qualification and Super Cup win. However, a poor third season, despite boasting of the strongest squad in Russia, relegated them to the Europa League places.
He said he would again go for a sabbatical and perhaps move to Schalke FC, to take over from his ex-assistant coach Roberto Di Matteo, only to wait for more lucrative offers to come in his way.
He had been to London and then St. Petersburg, and perhaps he wanted to move even east.
If there was a saying that a manager and his money is never proportional that would certainly have been true for Villas-Boas.
With only six titles at two clubs in a seven-year managerial stint is all that is needed for a cash-rich Chinese club to sign a European manager.
He has been a Grand Prix fan and has expressed his interest in taking part in a Dakar rally as well.
“It has been a lifelong passion. My first bike was a 350cc heavy engine, Yamaha XT 350, then I had Hondas then a couple of KTMS,” he once told the Mail in 2013.
Well, without any doubt, he has been driving his bike in the fast lane for quite some time and even now it does not show glimpses of falling over the edge.