The rise of Andre Villas-Boas has challenged many of the long held beliefs of football management and Australia should now ensure that its own version can emerge and not be constrained by outdated coaching stereotypes...

No professional playing career, one full-season as a manager, younger than many of the players, it hardly sounds like a wise choice when appointing the manager for one of the biggest football clubs in the world.

But that is only if you see these as essential qualifications when appointing a manager.

If you judge a manager on his ability to get results, play attacking football, get the best out of his players and earn their respect and loyalty, many of these are likely to become irrelevant.

This is exactly what Chelsea have done with the appointment of former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager, challenging the validity of many of the established norms about coaching at the highest level.

The key question that must be asked is would Villas-Boas, a man with no playing career at all to speak to of and at just 33 years of age,  have been able to start and develop his coaching career in Australia and what barriers could be stopping the emergence of his Australian equivalent?

In the past few years Football Federation Australia has made great strides in providing opportunities for coaches to gain the necessary qualifications to pursue a career in coaching.

They have also provided important support such as the National Curriculum and development opportunities such as the National Coaching Conference.

However, there remains barriers that Villas-Boas would have faced if he had attempted to start his coaching career in Australia.

Chief among these is his lack of a professional playing career.

Amongst the criteria to gain acceptance into the FFA's Advanced Coaching Courses is "significant playing experience preferred."

Whilst a playing career is in no doubt a useful resource to have for a coach it has proved to be far from a hindrance for Villas-Boas and many others.

Australia would be wise to heed his example and remove this barrier that could put off potential coaches who may have the ability to contribute to Australian football.

This notion of needing to have had a substantial playing career in order to become a successful coach struggles to hold up to argument when analysing many of the strengths that have propelled Villas-Boas up the coaching ranks.

Hailed for his ability to motivate, unite a playing a squad and for his extreme dedication to ensuring that the team is as best prepared as humanly possible for its next match, these qualities are unlikely to be installed exclusively through having been a player of note.

Rather, they are qualities that the Portuguese saw as important in getting the best out of his players by observing the way coaches such as Jose Mourinho, who he worked for as an opposition scout at Porto, Chelsea and Inter, utilised different strategies.

Could these qualities have been developed through playing?

Yes, but again not exclusively.

What was essential was the ability to be able to observe and analyse football and how successful people operate.

As a teenager Villas-Boas had the good fortune of his Grandmother living in the same apartment block as the late Sir Bobby Robson while he was coach of Porto.

Having disagreed with a substitution Sir Bobby had made, the then 17-year-old Villas-Boas put a letter under the door of the coaching icon's home.

Intrigued by his boldness the former England Manager sought out Villas-Boas and asked him to write a report on why he should not have made the substitution.

 So impressed with what he came up with and his command of English Sir Bobby offered him a job assisting with Porto's under 19's.

This eagerness to develop as a coach is no doubt one of the major reasons for his success.

Are there likely to be many young Australian coaches who share his drive?


But for Australian coaches to follow in Villas-Boas footsteps it is imperative that coaching and playing are seen as two separate entities with the ability of a person to be a coach judged solely on coaching.

Ex-players must not be seen as having more or less knowledge than someone who may not have played the game at a high level.

As AC Milan's former manager Arrigo Sacchi remarked when questioned about his lack of a playing career "I never realised that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first."

Australia must also confront the notion that experience is essential when appointing a coach.

When Villas-Boas was interviewed for the job as Academica de Coimbra boss the President Jose Eduardo Simoes stated that in the space of two hours he not only got to know his character but also his technical competency through the way he had analysed the team.  

Despite not having been a manager before, he demonstrated that tactical knowledge is not the sole domain of experienced managers.

He showed it can be developed through observation and through gaining the necessary coaching qualifications that Villas-Boas set out to do at the age of 17.

Australian coaches such as Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold are making their mark at home and potentially in the future abroad.

Their ability to be able to ensure that their teams play attractive and successful football will no doubt inspire a host of people across the Nation to get into coaching.

The challenge now is to ensure that the inspired are not held back by outdated ideas about coaching and that the environment allows for Australia's very own Villas-Boas to emerge.

You can follow me on Twitter @beaubusch