André Villas-Boas, Jose Mourinho And False Familiarity

I found this article by Andi Thomas, quite interesting and I thought I’d post it here.

————–Young, gifted, and Portuguese. It is no wonder that the entire world (by which I mean, the tiny part of the world I flitter about in) was quickly peeved, if not actually vexed, by the persistent comparisons between Chelsea’s newest manager, André Villas-Boas, and Chelsea’s finest manager of the Abramovich years, José Mourinho.
Of course, it’s lazy, but you have to have some sympathy: it’s a comparison simply begging to be made. Youthful, handsome, title-winning, Europe-conquering; both raised at the knee of Bobby Robson, one worked for the other. There is even the suggestion that Villas-Boas shares Mourinho’s pitchside bolshiness – which would be excellent news – though throwing chewing gum at Henk Ten Cate pales alongside Mourinho’s catalogue of flaps, scraps, whines, whinges, gesticulations, mimes, and all-round talent for look-at-me buffoonery.
Sadly for anybody looking for an easy caricature, the comparison breaks down when it comes to the football itself. Mourinho’s (largely-deserved) reputation is as the high priest of anti-football: a man who finds his way to victory through the creative application of footballing destruction, whose teams kick and dive and snark their way to glory. You’re going to score one less than us. This contrasts resoundingly with Villas-Boas who, like a hard-of-hearing Motley Crüe fan, craves goals, goals, goals. His Porto team bothered the net 73 times in the league this season, which is more than both Mourinho’s title-wining Chelsea sides (72 apiece) and his last Porto team (63), despite Villas-Boas’ sides playing eight games and four games fewer across the respective seasons.
But if the lunge for the easy comparison is due in part to its sheer straightforward juiciness, the other reason is down to Villas-Boas’ relative unfamiliarity, particularly within England. I don’t necessarily mean in an insular way – this is, I hope, no longer the country that gave us the headlines ‘Arséne Who?’ and the sadly-but-probably-apocryphal ‘Fog In Channel, Continent Cut Off’ – but in a simple and obvious way: Villas-Boas hasn’t actually done all that much.
A corollary of youth is inexperience, naturally, and also a lack of known detail. Because so much of the actual work of football management takes place out of the public eye, in training sessions and tactical briefings, screaming fits in dank dressing rooms and chitter-chat over post-game bottles of excellent red, it’s the public character of managers that goes a long way to defining them. And with only two years of frontline management, at least half of which was well out of the public eye, Villas-Boas is as close to a mystery appointment as we’re likely to get. The question is “who are you going be?”, and the hoped for answer, from the media at least, is “please be a bit like José. He was cracking copy”.
But, if the parallel is frustrating more informed commentators, it is also having another, more subtle effect. Football feeds on stereotypes; all perceptions begin from pre-formed ideas. We do not come to our footballers, and managers, behind a veil of ignorance. Consider the power of simply being Brazilian. As Alex Bellos, author of Futebol, writes “The phrase ‘Brazilian footballer’ is like the phrases ‘French chef’ or ‘Tibetan monk’. The nationality expresses an innate authority – whatever the natural ability.” It is the idea of a Brazilian footballer that pleases; it satisfies a simple, circular part of the soul that knows Brazilians are footballers because Brazilians are footballers.
This has a number of consequences. Simon Kuper and Stefan Sysmanski note in Why England Lose that the premium paid on Brazilians skews the market, and quote an agent: “Irrespective of talent, it is very seductive to have a Brazilian in your team”. And this seductive quality is also apparent in the incessant fawning that permeates coverage of the Brazilian national team – who haven’t played samba football for years – and the giddiness that greets the arrival of a Brazilian player, unless it’s a goalkeeper, in which case apprehension reigns. In short, the prejudged understanding of what a player should be shapes the initial responses of the football world. Imagine two playmakers of equal skill being sold by a club; the Brazilian will always fetch more than the Bolivian.
Something similar, if more local, is happening at Chelsea: the inherent appeal of the idea of the appointment is smoothing the path for Villas-Boas, both with the fans and with the media, because it chimes with the folk-knowledge that this is what good Abramovich managerial appointments look like. Add to that his past at Chelsea – which arouses memories of the succession of men that emerged from the Anfield boot-room, long admired as the gold standard for coherent managerial appointments – and it is easy to see why there has been so little of the scepticism that the bald facts of the appointment might be expected to provoke.
Because familiarity quells dissent. What Villas-Boas is in general – a young, dynamic, handsome, modern Portuguese coach – means that attention is deflected from what he is in the specific: a colossal gamble. This – even more so than Mourinho – is an appointment made on the basis of perceived potential rather than known ability. I don’t think it’s too mischievous to suggest that were Chelsea’s new manager, say, a Frenchman with a comparable record in Ligue Un, the appointment might have looked a whole lot stranger, and (in a tribute to Carlo Ancelotti) been greeted with many more raised eyebrows.
This is not to suggest that Villas-Boas will fail; indeed, his lack of experience makes predictions about how he will fare even more futile than usual. Nor is it to suggest that he would not have got the job had he not been a convenient vessel for the memory of Mourinho. (Guus Hiddink aside, the field was remarkably thin.) But Villas-Boas’ job will be to restock an ageing squad while remaining competitive in the Premier League, before ultimately producing a team capable of sustained domestic dominance and a serious tilt at the European Cup, a series of tasks the likes of which he has practically no experience. Behind the twinkly eyes and the comforting parallels – beneath the unthinking drumbeats that herald the return of the king, or at least something a bit like the king – lies a fascinating and considerable risk. ————–

So much has been said about JM and AVB. But as a Chelsea fan I hope AVB brings stability and consistency to our team. We have been lacking that since the glory days under Jose. We haven’t started the season pretty convincingly but still the team looks way better than the one last year and the new signings are playing very well. I hope the glory days return……

BTW, I made this signature couple of weeks ago… thought I’d post it here!




Getting to know the ‘hosts’ file…

We had a lecture on DNS today in class and I thought I’d write something about the built-in domain name mapping file present in all of our computers. This file is a very interesting one. You get a lot of uses from it and at the same time it exposes you to a lot of security threats. But before going into all that, here’s something for those who do not know what DNS is.

DNS stands for Domain Name Service or Domain Name Server. As we know every server in the internet is identified by an IP Address. But in order to access the websites running on those servers we usually use something called as an URL (eg. How does the router find out the ip-address of the server containing the resource addressed by the URL? This is where the DNS comes in. Your computer sends a message containing the domain name to a server called Domain Name Server which contains a database of domain names (eg., etc) and their corresponding IP Addresses. The DNS responds to your request and sends you the IP address of the requested domain name. This way your computer can know the IP address of any server using the domain name. When ever new domains are created the information is propagated across the internet and all the Domain Name Servers update their database to accommodate the new Domain. If you have tried hosting webpages before, you might have noted that some time is needed for your domain name to get mapped to your webhost’s server. During that time the information about your domain will be propagated to the DNS servers. So this is just a simple abstract explanation of DNS. Actually the system is much more complex but we need not go into that.

the hosts file…

So this hosts file is actually a plain text file that contains a local Domain name mapping table. It contains ip-addresses and corresponding domain names. And this file has a greater priority than the external DNS servers. So when you enter a domain in your browser, first your hosts file is consulted to check if you have a mapping for that domain, if so that specified IP address is accessed, or else you go for the help of external domain name servers. So this is the basic function of your hosts file. Lets take a closer look at the file itself.

Your hosts file will be located in the following directory if you are running Windows.


My apologies to the folks running other operating systems…. But I know some one who knows everything, and that person would be glad to help you find your hosts file. You can find him here.

Now go on and open that file using a text editor (like Notepad in Windows). It should look like this.

My Hosts File

Your hosts file may not look exactly like this but every hosts file is structured in the same way. The file itself is self explanatory. You’ve got the ipaddresses in one column and the domain name in the other. And btw, please dont read too much into the domain names given in my hosts file, we will come to that later.  And refers to your local computer. Its is called as the loop back address. So if you have any HTTP server running in your computer that server will be accessed if you go to If you dont have a server in your computer then you wont be taken to any webpage.

This is how it works. If you type, say, , you will be taken to your local host ( rather than the registration host of Sorenson. And ‘#’ character is used to comment out lines in the hosts file. When you install the OS for the first time you wont have any mappings here except for the local host. Now that you know what a hosts file is and how it works, lets see some tricks you can do with it.

playing with the hosts file…

You might have wondered why my hosts files has so many domain mapping. Well, the explanation might get me into a bit of trouble. But still, Im taking all risks! 😀 just kiddin’. Anyway, we all love to use premium software for free and we have been taught to share stuff from age 2 and we all know “Sharing is Caring”. So when you share software, you need to have a mechanism to fool the vendor and we have many techniques for that. And most of these techniques block any attempts by the software to access the vendor’s server by routing them to the localhost so that they go nowhere and hence the software wont have any way of verifying the genuineness. Since I used Adobe Software shared my acquaintances on the web (hehehe 😉 ) I have the adobe entry in my hosts file.

Speaking of blocking, you can use your hosts file to block access to certain websites from your computer. To do this add the domain name to the hosts file and map it to localhost ( You can also play tricks on your friends using this. You can mess up the DNS by mapping some websites to some other different websites like facebook to google, google to yahoo, etc. To do this fetch the ip address of the hosts. You can do this by running “ping hostname” as a run command (where hostname may be, etc) . So now add the IP address into your host file and specify the domain for which the IP address should be used. So to route requests for facebook to google, find google’s ip address and put the following entry in your hosts file 

You can drive your friends crazy this way! The hosts file is not all about fun. This can be a serious vulnerability in your computer. For eg. A malware (virus, adware etc) may modify your hosts file and lock it so that your DNS would be totally messed up. Worse, it could route access to email websites and other websites to phishing websites that steal your passwords. The latter technique is called “desktop phishing” . Id love to teach you guyz about it but it would be illegal to do so.

There are certain very nice uses for the hosts file also. Very often we get annoyed by irritating ads in webpages. We can easily block them without having to install Ad Block software (although I use one (adblock for Chrome) and its awesome!) What you have to do is add the ad server to your hosts file and map it to the local host. You might wonder how to find the ad servers. Fear not! There is someone who cares for you! Check this out!

This is a comprehensive hosts file that is updated almost on a daily basis with the latest ad servers, hijack websites and infected websites. You can copy the contents and put them in your hosts file and Voila! You should be ad-free!

Ah! I almost forgot. After you update your hosts file, the changes may not be reflected immediately. To get things working immediately you need to flush your DNS cache. To do this open command prompt and run the following command,

ipconfig /flushdns

You can also use the Run dialog box to use this command. And also you need to be the administrator of the computer to access and modify the hosts file.

What are you waiting for? Go play with your (or your friend’s 😉 ) hosts file!


Steve Robinson

The 12 year old alcoholic

Couple of days ago I witnessed a shocking scene in my town. I thought I’d share this here. I was waiting for my college bus at my bus stop which is adjacent to a liquor shop. And near the shop there is a small passage where people throw empty bottles, water packets, plastic tumblers and all other stuff that you would expect to see near such a place. And that day, I saw a little boy who I think would be only 12 or 13 years old, and he came over to that shop, went into the passage collected some empty bottles and some water packets and a tumbler. And he came out and I thought he was gonna sell this or something. But what he did after that was totally shocking! He poured the left over from the liquor bottles into the tumbler and mixed it with the some water from the packets. And he looked at me and I knew he was gonna drink it, and when I took a step toward him, he poured the entire thing into his mouth and ran off! Ive never seen a kid do such a thing and I was totally taken aback! One of my friends came over and I told him what I saw and what he said was even more shocking! He told me that he had seen this kid many times doing this. And I was like “Oh God! No! No!”

We can’t let such things happen in our society! May be on the long run, the standards of our people in the slums may rise and they may get more educated and parents wont let children do such things. But we should do something as a short term solution to such things. In my state Tamil Nadu all the liquor shops are state controlled. So the government can better regulate these shops. They can impose rules that don’t allow people to drink in front of shops and use only the bars. And they can ask the vendors to keep the area clean. Regular inspections can be done to ensure the rules are being followed correctly. This way I feel a good percentage of such children wont be able to do such a thing and more kids wont be tempted to do this as well!

What I saw that day was truly shocking and whenever I go over to that place I get reminded of it and I could still remember the way he glanced at me. He looked like he had been possessed by some demon or something. Imagine what that boy would become when he grows up… He may not even grow up, he may become infected with diseases and die soon. We have to do something!


A historic day for Indian Football

Today, India hosted its first ever FIFA licensed friendly at the legendary Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata, the city of Joy. Argentina played Venezuela in the friendly and it ended in a 1-0 victory for the Argentineans with Nicolas Otamendi getting on the score-sheet. Ever since the announcement was made about the friendly Kolkata and other parts of India were totally immersed into football fanaticism. And this reached high pitch when the Argentine national team arrived in Kolkata. Huge life sized banners could be seen everywhere in every street and every home! People drumming dancing and chanting for the team. And it got even more crazy when Lionel Messi arrived. 3000 fans waited for him at the airport but to their disappointment he was whisked away through the VIP gate. The whole city was “Messi”-merised, as some TV channels put it.

Messi mania in Kolkata

After two days of training it was finally time for the match! Fans from all over the nation flocked in huge numbers to Kolkata. And the stadium was filled with more than 90,000 fans from all over India. There was tight security all round. But the match began with a ridiculous error. It was announced that the Venezuelan National anthem was to be played and the TV crew position the camera in front of the Venezuelan players and to everyone’s surprise the PA system started playing the Argentine anthem! The players gave a weired reaction but nothing big happened. And another funny thing was when the Linesman tried to take a picture of Messi with his digital camera when he came over for the toss. Priceless! Lol. 😀


The match began and Messi had Higuain and Di Maria with him upfront and the rejuvenated Lucho Gonzalez, Mascherano and former Velez Sarsfield starlet and Inter Milan player Ricardo Alvarez were in midfield. Demichellis partnered Nicolas Otamendi in Defense. Marcos Rojo and Pablo Zabaleta played in the full back positions. The team played well and Messi was good in particular. There were many chances but Argentina couldn’t finish them. Early chances fell to Angel Di Maria and Messi played the pivotal role in those two chances. After that there were no clear cut changes for both teams. Venezuela were very organized and Argentina were restricted to long range efforts. In the second half, the players began to tire because of the heat. Argentineans are not used to playing in the heat and dehydration was clearly visible. After a short drinks break, which saw Messi drinking Aquafina,  the breakthrough came for Argentina. Nicolas Otamendi finished off a Messi corner to put Argentina 1-0 up. But after that chances were scarce and the players began to struggle. And so the match ended 1-0. After the match the captain of the winning team (Messi) was awarded a trophy and Otamendi (Man Of the Match) was given a trophy. You dont see this in a typical Friendly match. But this is India and we do it different! The match didn’t live upto the hype and the expectations but still it was a historic day.

Next up Argentina travel to Dhaka to play Nigeria. The experience in India over the week was like none other! For a football fan in India like me its a dream come true to have an International Friendly between two top teams in India! I hope more people start following the game and bring about a revolution in the Indian football front.

Steve Robinson

What next for the Middle East?

Women Protesting in Egypt

The biggest story of the year so far has been the Arab Spring! Revolutions happening all across the Arab World toppling powerful long serving and at the same time authoritarian regimes. It all started in the streets of Tunis and later spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Bahrain. Some have been able to bring about a change int he government in some form or other as in the case of Egypt and Jordan and more recently in Libya. But some have been failures so far as in the case of Yemen and Syria. But what happened in the Middle east this year is sure to have huge impact in the region for many years to come. But the real question is, What next? Where do they go from now? There is no stable government yet in Egypt. Libya, which saw the bloodiest battles is still recovering and the future of the state is unsure, with the Colonel still on the loose. As far as I know, there are two things that can happen next. One, the states’ Muslim clerics could take over and form Islamic states like Iran. Two, the states could become further unstable ultimately allowing terror organizations to take advantage and ruining the core spirit of the Arab Spring. Lets analyse the two scenarios.

The Arab world has seen a major influx of foreign exchange from the sale of Oil and other natural resources. This led to governments, or rather Rulers becoming more and more inclined toward the West. This naturally loosened the grip of Islamic Institutions on the state and the rulers started enjoying the riches and this created greed for power and that ultimately turned these leaders of the government elected by people into dictators. Now after all these revolutions and revolts, most of them have been removed or have been restored to being normal leaders. But in many countries, the situation is still unstable. No power has claimed complete control. In this unstable situation, the Muslim Brotherhood of those states are the only power to which all people abide. So naturally they might take over the nations once again and establish Iran like states. But clearly people dont want that. They want a free democracy. This scenario has already taken place in Iran where the Shah was toppled by the Islamic Revolution and finally a pro-Islamic state was established which most people don’t like. And it has produced people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who may not be a Nasser but still is a authoritarian. The probability of this happening in Egypt is very high with the current government unable to meet people’s demands leading to continuing mass protests at Tahrir Square. I dont think this might happen in Libya because over there the National Transitional Council is definitely going to take control of the state. Although a Islamic regime would bring stability in  a nation, its not the preferred system among most citizens. Such a regime might also create a serious conflict of interest with western governments.

End Game - Muammar Gaddafi!

The prospect of a failed state is more likely in countries like Yemen and Libya. First of all in Yemen, one of the main reasons that everyone is cautious to intervene is the fact that Al Qaeda has a strong presence over there. It must be noted that Osama had links in Yemen and the 9/11 pilots although being Saudis actually had Yemeni origins. NATO and UN fear that an intervention might lead to another Iraq or Afghanistan. So its a highly volatile situation over there. President Saleh shows no sign of stepping down. He agreed to sign an agreement in May that would see him resigning in two months but later refused to do so. Even after an assassination attempt that saw a RPG being fired into his office severely injuring him, he hasn’t lost his determination to hold on to power. At the same time even the people’s determination to continue protest hasnt been deterred by the killings. All this makes the country more and more unstable and unlike Libya there is no strong opposition power that can take control of the nation if Saleh is killed or resigns. Coming over to Tripoli, we have a delicate situation here. We all know that Gaddafi is no more. He cant come back. But the National Transitional Council (NTC) which coordinated the civil revolt is not an united front. It has many factions of people who have different ideologies and principles and the NTC must also convince many nations like China, Russia, India etc that they are capable of ruling the nation because these countries are yet to recognize them. The power of the NTC to maintain peace and order is also questionable. The countless people who took up arms will have no work now and the NTC must ensure that these people dont turn into mercenaries and anti-social elements. And they must also keep check on terrorist intrusions. Unless a strong institution that can control the entire nation is constituted Libya may well become a failed state as well.

The special case in the Arab revolutions is definitely Syria. The atrocities committed by the Assad led government is well known and well documented as well. Reports say tanks surround towns at night and within hours demolish them and soldiers kill everything that moves! But still apart from sanctions and pressure from UN and other nations, no direct intervention has been proposed. The reason for this is the fact that Syria has good diplomatic ties with Hezbollah, Turkey, Iran and Russia. Gaddafi didnt have anyone to help him when NATO came in. But its not the same with Bashar Al Assad. Even though other Arab states have requested Assad to make reforms, there is no serious pressure. Hence there is no sign of an end to the problems in Syria. So the coming months will be very crucial for the whole of the Arab world. This will shape the history of the region forever. Hence it is crucial that these revolutions end in success!

Tahrir Square

Whatever happens, the Arab revolutions will not be forgotten. The images of Tahrir Square, Benghazi etc are still fresh in people’s minds. The amount of passion and will shown by the Arab people was immense and highly commendable. Lets just hope everything ends well. As always post your views below!

Steve Robinson