Why Andre Villas-Boas Is the Man to Lead Newcastle's New Era

Andre Villas Boas
Masashi Hara/Getty Images

If nothing else, the post-coronavirus world promises to be interesting for Newcastle United.

The club are poised to enter an uncharted new era, backed controversially by prospective new Saudi Arabian owners, and the headlines which have recently arisen suggest there is no limit to their ambition.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Gareth Bale, Mauricio Pochettino; names which would have seemed ridiculous even in a Newcastle FIFA career mode just 12 months ago; are now being linked with a tinge of realism, and that is just the beginning.

It's almost understandable, then, that when links arose with incumbent Marseille boss André Villas-Boas - enjoying a resurgence of his own in France - there were more than a few dissenting voices among the Magpies fanbase.

He might have once been touted as the 'new Special One' but to your average English fan, this is a guy who has only lasted an entire Premier League season once - he's been sacked midway through his other two.

It's worth remembering, however, that at 42, he is still a very young manager. When he led Porto to Primeira Liga and Europa League success in 2011, he was still in his early 30s, and his initial move to England - the failure of which he would later attribute to difference in philosophy - evidently came before he was truly ready for it.

He exited the limelight from there, and it would be unfair to label what happened next as a 'failure'. His two years with Zenit St. Petersburg yielded a famous Russian League title, and remains his longest spell with any one club, while short-lived period with Shanghai Shenua was doomed to fail from the start, and preceded a two-year break from management.

Now he has all the motorsport out of his system, however, his swashbuckling Marseille side - reading like Villas-Boas' blitzing Porto team injected with a dose of the level-headed maturity typically associated with José Mourinho or Rafa Benitez - were announced as Ligue 1 runners-up to PSG. A sign as clear as any that he still has something to offer at the top level of European football.

Even that, however, doesn't look as if it will trigger a prolonged stay. The ongoing turbulence at boardroom level - which has seen sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and director of scouting Albert Valentin walk out in recent weeks - looks set to spell the end for Villas-Boas, too, as he is reportedly set to snub the offer of a renewed deal and walk out with 12 months left to run on his contract.

It leaves him with a decision to make - where next?

It does seem he doesn't fancy a Premier League renaissance. Speaking to Portuguese radio station Radio Renascenca (as relayed by Goal in France), he put that over in pretty clear terms.

Andre Villas Boas
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

"I will not go back there. It is the championship with the most investments, the best players and teams.

"But I like being in a league that includes different game philosophy. This is not the case in England."

Considering he hasn't minced his words there in the slightest, you'd be hard pushed to suggest that anyone in England - let alone Newcastle - could be the exception to the rule he has set out for himself.

On one hand, however, there is an extraordinary amount of money on the table, and the long-term plan set out by the incoming Mohammed bin Salman, Amanda Stavely and the Saudi Public Investment Fund is said to have turned even Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly's head.

Kalidou Koulibaly
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

There is also a far more sentimental draw from Villas-Boas' perspective. In many ways, it's a chance to finish what his mentor Sir Bobby Robson started in 1999.

Robson is synonymous with some of the best football in the Magpies' history, but he is thought of in equally high regard by Villas-Boas, who in essence owes his career to the England great, after a chance 1994 meeting when Robson was in charge of Porto.

The two stayed in the same apartment building when a 17-year-old AVB - full of guts and gusto - left a letter for Robson critiquing his team selection and tactics.

Thomas Tuchel, Andre Villas-Boas
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Most managers would shrug off such an imposition, but Robson was struck by the detail and knowledge presented that he would invite him on board, initially at entry level in the scouting department.

For Robson, it was a passing gesture as self-serving as it was generous. For Villas-Boas, however, it was life changing, and one he would carry with him throughout a journey that would see him follow in his idol's footsteps.

None of this is to say Villas-Boas is romantic enough to revel in the chance to do so yet again, but the football philosophy he shared with Robson - born and raised in County Durham, just 40 minutes outside of Newcastle - is invariably woven into the fabric of the city and the club.

For this move to come off, make no mistake; it would require a number of far-reaching stars to align. The takeover will first have to be approved by the Premier League; the new owners will have to decide he is their man; Villas-Boas will have to walk out of Marseille, snub other offers, and be convinced to double back on himself and once again stake his reputation on an uncertain period at an English club.

None of those factors are certain, but none are impossible either. And if it is a deal that the Gods allow to come to pass, it's one that should be treated with excitement because of the progress it represents; not with derision because his name isn't Mauricio Pochettino.

For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!