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10th Dec 2016

WATCH: Jermaine Jenas reveals Andre Villas-Boas’ bizarre gym rule while at Spurs

This is bonkers...

Robert Redmond

Andre Villas-Boas failed to convince as a manager during his time in England, and this story offers insight into exactly why.

Appointed as Chelsea boss in 2011, after winning a treble with Porto, Villas-Boas was touted as the next Jose Mourinho. Roman Abramovich reportedly paid Porto €15m to secure the then 33-year-old coach.

Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League

He was gone by February, with senior players openly questioning his tactics after several of them had been dropped. Chelsea went on to win the Champions League a few months later.

Harry Redknapp guided Tottenham Hotspur to fourth in the Premier League that season, and would’ve secured a Champions League qualification spot if Chelsea had lost to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

He was sacked and replaced, somehow, by Villas-Boas, and things went okay for a season, while Gareth Bale was in stunning form.

When the Welsh star left for Real Madrid, the wheels started to come off and Villas-Boas was sacked after Spurs lost 5-0 to Liverpool in December 2013.

Tottenham Hotspur FC v S.S. Lazio - UEFA Europa League

Since then he’s won the Russian league with Zenit-Saint Petersburg, and, despite still only being 39, has moved to the Chinese Super League to manage Shanghai SIPG.

He looks unlikely to ever return to the Premier League, but don’t feel too sorry for him, as he’s reportedly earning £11m a year in China.

Villas-Boas looked the part, and initially spoke a good game, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that he wasn’t the real deal, and this story from Jermaine Jenas won’t help boost Villas-Boas’ reputation.

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Jenas and Clinton Morrison were on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday evening, and were discussing how players react to working under managers who don’t have much experience of English football, or who may not have previously had a professional playing career.

Jenas, who played for Spurs when Villas-Boas was in-charge, said the squad gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“It worked at times, at Tottenham,” Jenas said about Villas-Boas’ two-year spell at White Hart Lane.

“A lot of the players wasn’t happy (sic) with how he did things at times, but I think a lot of it was down to that kind of respect element and having an understanding of where he came from, Andre Villas-Boas.

“At Chelsea, he was pretty much the tactical guy, who was going around handing out DVDs on players and stats on the players you were coming up against.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League

“I think that spell he had at Chelsea enabled him that when he came to Spurs, we all automatically was like (sic) ‘well this is an ex-Chelsea manager, let’s see what he’s got to say without shooting him down because he hasn’t played the game'”

However, there was one rule that left them perplexed.

“He didn’t allow players to go in the gym, which just baffled me.”

That’s right, Villas-Boas, according to Jenas, prevented professional athletes from working out in the gym.

Just let that sink in.


“We’d just built this 90-million-pound training facility and we weren’t allowed to go into the gym,” Jenas continued.

When asked by Darren Fletcher, the show’s presenter, why the former Spurs manager prevented his players from working out, Jenas said:

“He used to just basically say: ‘you do your work on the training pitch’.”

“(But) You go into the gym to prevent injuries a lot of the time, not to just get stronger, you go in there to maintain a level of strength.

It gets even stranger though, as Villas-Boas would go to bizarre lengths to enforce his bonkers rule.

“And one of our big players, especially under Harry (Redknapp) was (Emmanuel) Adebayor, and he was massive for it. He loved the gym.

“I’d ruptured my achilles at the time and I was doing like nine (in the morning) to half-five in the afternoon (in the gym) every day just to try get myself fit.

“Ade was in there every single morning, battering the gym, and then Andre turned up and went ‘mate, you’re not allowed in here’.

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

“And then Ade’s performances just went through the floor.

“I’d be in the gym, Ade would come into the gym, he would start his workout and Andre would send one of his guys into the gym.

“He would just come in and stand and stare at us both until it got that uncomfortable that we were like: ‘What do you want?’ and he’d be like: ‘Look, you know you shouldn’t be in here’.”

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