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SUPRIYA BAKHT
SPORTING CHIC

Supriya Bakht is an incessant talker with a shoe addiction. She's usually found ranting and raving about politics, football and Arsenal; but mostly about Arsenal.

Porto is the latest hub for managerial skill in the world of soccer

fter winning the Portuguese Liga in a record-breaking unbeaten run and beating fellow Portuguese side Sporting Braga to lift the Europa League trophy, FC Porto are looking to complete a treble as they take on Vitoria Guimaraes in the Portuguese Super Cup final tonight. In what many are calling a case of the student becomes the teacher, Porto manager André Villas-Boas is looking to emulate his guru Jose Mourinho by taking FC Porto to three titles this season. Villas Boas, a life long Porto supporter was once an opposition scout for the club under the Special One and eventually rose to take his own place in managing the side. The thirty three year old is the youngest manager to win a European title and has won his critics and the media over with his constant smiles, honesty and dedication to his hometown club, skills that Mourinho could do with learning from his mentee.

Is Porto the newest breeding ground for the best managerial talent in Europe? Rewind to 2003 and 2004. A young Mourinho took Porto to two back-to-back European titles – a UEFA cup victory followed by an historical and unexpected Champions League trophy in 2004. Of course, what followed after was a near purge of the stars and coaching staff and an exodus to the bigger clubs across Europe. Porto have been wise to safeguard against such a recurrence, their two biggest stars have exorbitant buyout or release clauses attached to their contracts, as does Porto boss Villas Boas.

In the light of their success in their domestic league and in Europe this season, Porto is simply asking other clubs to spend obscene amounts of money to poach their manager or players. If you want their star goal scorer, nicknamed 'Hulk, all you need is a mere €100 million and entering into a bidding war with Tottenham, who are looking to youngster to as a solution their goal scoring woes. With 16 goals in the first 16 matches this season, he is reliable and consistent. After ending their season in fifth place, the Spurs desperately need a striker like him. You want Villas Boas as manager? Another €15 million and for good measure, throw in another €30 million Euros for match winner Radamel Falcao. With 16 goals in their domestic campaign and a record breaking 17 goals in their European campaign, clubs like Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich have already expressed considerable interest despite the €30 million price tag the Columbian comes with. Porto's strategy is commendable. The release clauses will no longer apply after next season, thereby giving the club time to find replacements and perhaps attempt to raise even more money from the future sales of their players.

Everyone knows that it's been a tough few weeks for Mourinho. Besides losing face in the battle of managers against Barca manager Pep Guardiola twice over and incurring the wrath of  UEFA and the football community across the world, now his legacy at Porto is in danger of being overshadowed. Unlike Mourinho however, it is rumoured that Villas Boas has turned down a chance to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea next season instead, choosing to stay on at his club to guide them through next season's campaign in Europe. And that's not all. Once upon a time, Mourinho was the darling of women fans everywhere but the younger blue-eyed Villas Boas has managed to outshine him and acquire far more popularity amongst female fans. Now, that's got to hurt any male ego. While it may be premature to gauge whether Villas Boas will take his Porto as far as Mourinho did, he has made an impressive start in trying to forge his own path in Portuguese football history.

Arsenal's empty trophy cabinets could learn a thing or two from him, because it's as if everything he touches turns to silverware. With the Champions League to play next season and their star players ruling out summer transfers in favour of staying on at the club, it appears fated that Porto have another title in Europe waiting for them.

 
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