Premier League

Villas-Boas plays down Mourinho spat

Andre Villas-Boas
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has blasted his Spurs players.
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Andre Villas-Boas has played down the importance of his personal battle with Jose Mourinho ahead of Tottenham's meeting with Chelsea.

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Villas-Boas and Mourinho will be in opposing dugouts for the first time on Saturday when Chelsea visit White Hart Lane in the Barclays Premier League.

For seven years Villas-Boas worked as a scout for Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but the pair split in 2009 and they have barely spoken since.

Villas-Boas wanted to become Mourinho's assistant at Inter, but the 50-year-old rejected the idea, leaving his protege to pursue his own career in management that has so far seen him take the reins at Academica de Coimbra, Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham.

The frosty relationship between two of the most highly-rated minds in management has been a source of debate for many years, but Villas-Boas thinks any personal battles will take a back seat on Saturday.

When asked how much his broken relationship with Mourinho mattered to the game, Villas-Boas said: "In my opinion not a lot.

"In the end we try to serve the players as much as we can. The game is theirs and the history of both clubs completely surpasses our achievements.

"I would say that we should, in my opinion, be secondary figures to a spectacular game that means a lot to the fans and much more to the players."

Villas-Boas insists the split was amicable, and the Spurs boss mainly put on a diplomatic front when talking about his former mentor in front of the media on Thursday.

The Tottenham manager revealed that he had spoken to Mourinho in August at a League Managers' Association meeting and he spoke of his respect for his opposite number.

After enjoying so much success since leaving Mourinho's side, Villas-Boas has a lot to thank the current Chelsea boss for.

"I think there is always an influence because, when you've worked so close together for seven years you learn methods that not only brought Jose so much success but you want to get to know those methods and apply them as well," Villas-Boas said.

"There are probably lots of things in my organisation I do similarly to him, of course.

"I don't think there's anything to prove. Jose's career speaks for itself and I'm very proud of what I've done so far and what I've achieved."

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Villas-Boas' fractured relationship with Mourinho is not the only sub-plot to Saturday's London derby, of course.

Villas-Boas was entrusted with bringing the glory days back to Chelsea in 2011, but his reign lasted just 257 days.

Villas-Boas accused Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich of "quitting" on him, and it is clear that the sacking still riles the Spurs boss to this day.

The constant talk of Chelsea and Mourinho got to the club's former manager towards the end of Thursday's media conference, when he responded to another question about the club from one reporter with: "I don't care about Chelsea."

The reason for Villas-Boas' bluntness is clear. Chelsea have moved on and so has he.

Villas-Boas moved a step closer to rebuilding his reputation last season when he led Tottenham to within a whisker of Champions League football after accumulating a record points total.

And the Portuguese has defied his critics even more by guiding Tottenham to seven wins from their opening eight games despite the loss of Gareth Bale, who scored 26 times for Spurs last season.

The one loss Spurs have incurred this season has been against Arsenal, however, raising doubts over whether Tottenham can achieve the big wins over their rivals that will be required if they are to finish in the top four.

Villas-Boas admits Saturday's game against the Blues will be a real litmus test for his new-look side.

"These are the early stages of the season, but it's against these teams that you're able to measure the type of challenges that you can do," Villas-Boas said.

Villas-Boas hopes to have Aaron Lennon and Danny Rose available for the derby, but Younes Kaboul is doubtful and Etienne Capoue remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Emmanuel Adebayor will also miss out as he has been ill since his return from compassionate leave.

The out-of-favour Togo international had been told he would have to train with the development squad, but Villas-Boas has revealed that the former Arsenal man will join in with first-team training instead from next week.

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