LONDON — There was a slightly forced, if not warm handshake between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho before Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
But with over 30 photographers ready for that moment pregame, AVB duly obliged by walking over to the Chelsea bench and offering his hand to his countrymen, as the two Portuguese coaches embraced.
And in Saturday’s blood and thunder clash in North London, both managers shared the spoils with the home side dominating the first period before Chelsea came roaring back into the game in the second half.
Spurs manager Villas-Boas believes the draw was a fair result, but had Paulinho’s shot that hit the post just before half time gone in, Tottenham’s boss could’ve got one over his old boss in their first ever encounter.
“I think the moment of the game came when Paulinho hit the post just before half time,” Villas-Boas said. “Had that gone in, it could have put us in a very good position, I think we deserved that for the first half that we played, the second half wasn’t really played by both teams but I think Chelsea had the upper hand on the counter-attack. They looked very, very strong and deserved to get the equalizer in the end from a set play.”
Many may argue that Chelsea’s strong second half showing came courtesy of Jose Mourinho’s shrewd tactical substitutions at half time. Mourinho brought on Juan Mata for John Obi Mikel at the break, and the brave decision from the 50-year-old manager changed the entire complex of the game.
Mourinho believed his side deserved to win.
“I think they were better than us in the first half but not much better,” Mourinho said. “They were better but they didn’t create so many chances but enough to be deserving of the advantage of one nil. In the second half, only one team. One team. And that team was very, very strong until the moment the referee made the mistake. A big mistake. But a mistake that has a big influence in the result. And at that moment, we were much better. They were in big trouble, they were really in big trouble.”
And the “Special One” is right.
The introduction of Juan Mata sparked Chelsea into life, with the Spanish attacker creating plenty from a central area and allowing Oscar, Ramires and Frank Lampard to roam forward in support. Oscar looked better on the left and Fernando Torres burst into life. But the controversial decision from Mike Dean to send off Torres with 10 minutes left to play halted Chelsea’s momentum, and if it wasn’t for that, Mourinho could have pulled of a spectacular comeback win against his old understudy.
After the game, Villas-Boas spoke about his relationship with Jose and revealed what they spoke about post-game.
“We had a brief chat just now, because I explained to him that I would invite him up but I have to leave [AVB was attending a celebration dinner in Porto],” Villas-Boas said. “But I think the attention should not be drawn to the managers. It should be drawn to the game. It was a difficult hard battle, between two teams who wanted to win this game. We had a very good first half, not a good second. I think it’s a fair result. The league won’t be decided by games like this, it will be against other teams where you can’t drop points. Great, great battle.”
Yet Mourinho, as is often the case, had the last word on his relationship with AVB.
“I’m 50-years-old, I’m not a child,” Mourinho said. “I think when I was 15 or 20, I was not a child. I was very mature. And if you have a problem with somebody, you don’t go to your mom or your dad or the press. If you have a problem with somebody you go face to face to resolve your situation. So for me, this story is a book without pages. I don’t care of it. I think what people want is a very good game of football. Tottenham did that, we did that and the ref tried to do that.”