I always enjoy it when the media actually managed to get some good quotes out of players rather than their usual word-gruel, and they've managed to do just that with Daniel Sturridge following Chelsea's Asia Trophy final win in Hong Kong. Sturridge played reasonably well in the match - he often looked rather lost, but there were moments of real class in there, mostly involving repeatedly skinning a baffled Stephen Warnock. It was those moments that the 21-year-old discussed afterwards:
The tricks and flicks have been part of my game, they always have been. The manager has given me licence to express myself. I have never had that before with any manager. He has let me off the leash if you like. He has given me a lot more freedom than I have ever had and I will enjoy my football a lot more.
It is not just me either; everyone feels like that. He wants us to attack and not be too defensive. That is refreshing. The tour has been great. The manager has shown faith in me.
-Daniel Sturridge. Source: Independent.
Obviously, Sturridge is comparing life under Andre Villas-Boas with life under Carlo Ancelotti, but there's a more relevant comparison here, and that's to good old Jose Mourinho, the man who is currently trying to turn Fabio Coentrao into a defensive midfielder. Although Mourinho was obviously an immensely successful manager to whom we owe nothing but thanks for bringing a glittering haul of trophies back to Stamford Bridge, the football he chooses to play can be tough to watch, and the more... fun, let's call them, players tend to pay a steep price. Not for nothing is he said to have broken Joe Cole (or John Obi Mikel, if you ask Nigeria).
Under Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea won the double while scoring 103 goals in a vicious onslaught of powerful, free-flowing attacking football. When he struggled, though, the team's verve seemed to fade, which led to less and less creativity as the Blues tried to Didier Drogba (and later, Fernando Torres) their way back to relevance. Villas-Boas knows that putting too many restrictions on players is damaging to how creative they can be, and is also fully aware of how useful giving, say, Sturridge license to take a risk if there's the potential for great gain.
Ultimately, in order to score, you'll almost always have to take a risk. Villas-Boas' Porto teams tended to be on the 4-2 side of the winning equation rather than in the 1-0 style Mourinho favoured. And while that might lead to some frustrating results from time to time, overall I think it'll be rather fun. Boring, boring Chelsea? I think not.