‘massive arguments’: Ex-Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas recalls over Joao Moutinho

Speaking about the difficulty managers are facing as a result of the growing use of data analysis, Andre Villas-Boas recalled how, during his time as head coach of Tottenham, it resulted in “massive, massive arguments” over the possible signing of Joao Moutinho.

In the summer of 2012, the Portuguese sought to sign their countryman Moutinho from Porto, but the midfield player was ranked only sixth on the list that then-sporting director Franco Baldini had created using data and statistical analysis.

Spurs missed out on signing Moutinho by a minute as they pursued other targets, such as Mousa Dembele, and only came back for him towards the end of the summer transfer window.

As more teams use data and artificial intelligence to find targets, Villas-Boas is aware of the dilemma that managers will soon have to deal with.

At the Web Summit in Lisbon, he stated, “The most evident case I had was when I was at Tottenham and I wanted to sign Joao Moutinho and he was sitting sixth on the list compiled by data people.”

“The first player on the list was Dembele; we signed him, and on the final day of the transfer window, we came close to signing Moutinho as well.

However, it emotionally depleted me to the point where, from the coach’s perspective, the player represented everything that the data did not show—namely, that he was a player who understood your leadership, your style, and his adaptability to it.

This can be measured, but it has to be done from a coach’s perspective, not just one viewpoint.

This constituted the issue from the start, and as a result, Moutinho and I got into some really heated arguments.

We were going to assemble a very potent midfield, so it was a shame that we lost out on Moutinho when we signed Dembele.

“This is the exact moment when you need to strike a balance in order to determine your coaching philosophy and how to incorporate it into the data that has been given to you.”

“I have this objective of serving FC Porto as a president and at the moment it is going to go up for election in April or June 2024 so I always have the idea the present myself”.

Andre Villas-Boas

After departing Marseille in 2021, Villas-Boas has not held a job. Instead, he has pursued a career as a rally driver and prioritized his family time.

The 46-year-old says he plans to stay out of the game until the following year, when he might run for president of Porto.

“This is not the appropriate time to discuss returning,” he informed the PA news agency. “I am currently spending time with my family.

“I’ve found a sabbatical where I can give them my whole attention, and this will probably last until June 2024. They are worthy of my presence.

“I always have the idea to present myself because my goal is to serve FC Porto as president, and right now it is going to be up for election in April or June 2024.”

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