Villas Boas following in Mourinho footsteps

LISBON - Porto's young coach Andre Villas Boas followed in the steps of former boss Jose Mourinho by winning the Portuguese league in his first full season, raising hopes he can also copy his success at a European level.

Like Mourinho, the 33-year-old Villas Boas used impeccable organisation, strong leadership skills and a touch of controversy to race to his first title and catch the eye of some of Europe's bigger clubs.

Only a year and a half after starting his career as coach at Academica, he has built a solid Porto side whose consistency allowed them to clinch the title by beating Benfica 2-1 away on Sunday with five games to go and still undefeated.

Before joining Academica, Villas Boas spent years working as assistant and scout under Mourinho, first at Porto then at Chelsea and Inter Milan.

Although he is not as outspoken as the self-proclaimed "Special One", Villas Boas has used so-called mind games similar to Mourinho's to help his team, creating a siege mentality against a sometimes critical press.

He gave credit to his mentor after winning his first major trophy but also said the relationship worked both ways.

"I was part of a hugely successful coaching team. I owe a lot to Mourinho, who gave me a lot of knowledge. But I also gave him a lot through my competence and professionalism," he said.

KEY DIFFERENCES

Mourinho won the UEFA Cup in his first season at Porto, and if Villas Boas can do the same this year in the Europa League - in which his team are widely seen as the favourites - calls from bigger leagues may prove hard to resist.

But for now the Porto coach, who still has another year on his contract, is trying to keep his feet on the ground.

Asked which other league he sees himself winning he said: "Portugal. I'm 33 and I've just landed in the football world. I don't even think about another league".

Local media said Italian club AS Roma made a serious offer last week but Villas Boas rejected it as he wants to guide Porto in the Champions League next season, again just as Mourinho did.

Some say there are, however, some key differences between the two coaches, which may affect how Villas Boas leaves Porto.

Unlike Mourinho, he is a Porto fan. His entry into the club's coaching team as a teenager came after he approached his neighbour Bobby Robson to offer him information sheets on Porto's next opponents.

He would be unlikely to leave the club as abruptly as Mourinho, who quit immediately after leading them to the European title in 2004.

Some commentators say he is more akin to Barcelona's Pep Guardiola both in terms of temperament - calm and collected - and tactics, with his Porto side deploying a high-pressure and passing style used by the Catalan team.