If André Villas-Boas was a Soufflé…
A unique take on the André Villas-Boas sacking where Gino de Blasio shows his culinary expertise while dissecting the reasons behind AVB’s rise and fall
I like a good soufflé. I mean, I really like a good soufflé.
The thing with a soufflé is, you get many flavours. Some are timeless classics, some are flavours of the day; and some have the potential to be good, but they aren’t just ready, yet.
Strange to think that I can compare a manager to a soufflé, but the similarities are more than the untrained eye can strike. For fear of the Goalden Times staff locking me up until I come off my soufflé high, here’s my reasoning.
Michel Roux, the man who has written all there is to write about soufflés will point to three very specific elements of a soufflé. To begin with – La Préparation.
You can’t rush a soufflé. You SHOULDN’T rush a soufflé.
Under beat the eggs and you don’t have a binding agent, over beat, and the air is gone. If you mix rather than fold, you lose precious air and the chance for your masterpiece to really shine.
The overall result? A soufflé that won’t reach the table looking greater than a puddle at the bottom of a well prepared ramekin.
Why’s that any different with a manager? Why should they skip the preparation phase of their training, or indeed preparing the players for the match moment?
Sure, they will probably have elements that will hold their own, but preparation is key. As my grand-dad always used to say, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” (Well, in Italian at least, but the translation should be significant).
The next thing Roux points to is Les Ingrédients.
Are they fresh? Can they hold their own? Do they mix well to be a harmonious, well risen taste?
In our manager analogy, these would be your players. The players you select, or are left with. Can they perform to the levels or the standard you expect of them, are they right for your team? It is important to note that just like you need to mix and match ingredients (for not everything goes right when not done in order), so do the players. Would you add white truffle to any soufflé? Adding the league’s most expensive player is as comparable to soufflé success.
Roux is adamant on this. You need Le Temps to create the perfect soufflé. Have you practised enough to master the art of the soufflé? It’s simple yet complicated; one element will affect another and so on and so on.
This is to do with how long you are allowed to make the soufflé. If you want a quick-fix, try the burger, ladies and gentlemen. But to really make a soufflé, you got to be patient.
So what’s André Villas-Boas?
It feels at the time of his appointment, he was the flavour of the moment, a chocolate mint and gran marnier served at Le Gavroche. Why not, his credentials to that point (winning every competition that his Porto team had entered that year), pointed to the man in form aside from perhaps Pep Guardiola.
With a Portuguese league title, Portuguese league cup and European title to his name, André Villas-Boas was certainly on the radar. Young, smart, articulate and lauded by the media as the new Mourinho (his former boss at Porto, Chelsea and Inter), his Porto side played an attractive football that was beating everything in its path. And even Jose Mourinho had not won Porto a European crown in his first year there.
But his move came too soon. He was, for me, the under-beaten egg, left with bad ingredients and given no time to implement his style.
He was too rushed, both in his own assessment of being ready, and that of his future chairman. He wasn’t proven enough to come to such a league and do what the background voices wanted (bring back the glory days, phase out the old guard) and not only what was initially thought by many.
Was he going too quick for his own good? He paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson and his 40 years of service to football management, stating that he “could not see himself managing a club beyond my 40’s”. He really didn’t see it coming, poor chap.
His key ingredients? Well that would be like adding leftover lemon juice from the fridge into the mix. The potential talents coming from the youth academy were probably going to come good, especially if Daniel Sturridge was anything to go by. The club though in their infinite wisdom, let a talent like Fabio Borini leave, only to see him prove himself capable of breaking into the senior Italy team through his performances for Roma. And what about the current crop? Their apparent acidic aspersions in public and private were leaving a sour taste, for AVB this would only give one problem on another; for Michel Roux this would be a soufflé not worthy of adding to a buttered and sugared ramekin.
There are those that will argue until the cows came home that AVB was given enough time with the current squad to start implementing the style of football he wanted. The majority, myself included, would disagree. How could you show your worth, in any job, let alone something as transgenic as a football manager, in only nine months? Very tough. Andre needed the time; I’ll let you decide if he got it.
If André Villas-Boas was a soufflé, he’d be a ginger, passion-fruit and mango one. Doesn’t sound like something you’d want right now, but given a few years, more time to develop and the right ingredients, it would be the talk of the town, and with just cause.
Featured Image Source – zimbio.com