Villas-Boas: Porto not 'a one-man show'
FC Porto manager Andre Villas-Boas is eager to deflect the spotlight from his own performances as he seeks to become the youngest coach to win a major UEFA trophy in the Europa League final against Braga.
Villas-Boas has earned comparisons with Jose Mourinho and could lead the Portuguese club to a repeat of the 2003 UEFA Cup triumph mastermined by Mourinho during his time at the Dragao Stadium. However, the 33-year-old is keen to give credit for his achievements to his players.
"People focus a lot on the work of the manager and I don't see it that way," Villas-Boas said on Tuesday. "I don't see myself as a one-man show. Football isn't won by one person but by collective competence. It is the quality of the players and the structure of the club.
"I just want to make my players give their most. I give them room to express themselves because that's how they develop. I promote their talent and let them make their own decisions. There are no dictators. "We don't see the game as a tactical game. If you are a dictator of choices, players won't be able to explore their possibilities to the full. You have to be able to free them."
It is a philosophy that has found favour with his players: "It's the freedom he gives us," said goalkeeper and captain Helton. "He looks after us and tries to help us with what we need, while making sure he gets what he wants from us tactically. [When things aren't going right] he gives us tranquillity and reminds us that we're capable of getting the job done. We've heard that speech a few times now."
Villas-Boas is reportedly no longer on close terms with Mourinho after leaving to become a manager himself at Academica in 2009 and did not take the chance to praise his former mentor for helping his development.
"I spent seven years with Jose and we were part of a very good technical staff. We went to top-class clubs at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan and worked with top players who gave us such a tremendous volume of success," he said. ''The position I had with him was a position he needed some help on. I understood my role from the beginning and tried to fulfil it with maximum professionalism.
"When I left him, he took on another person who I hope gives him the same level. Regarding why I left Inter, it was because I wanted the extra edge to fulfil my ambitions as a professional coach, so I took the risk to find my own job at Academica."
As a teenager Villas-Boas had aspirations of being a journalist when he wrote a letter to then Porto coach Sir Bobby Robson, asking that his opposite number on Wednesday, Domingos, be given a chance in the side. It was a move that brought him to Robson's attention.
"Fortunately Robson took me to the club and got me on training courses in England and Scotland," he explained. "If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be here but with you on the other side of the barricade."