When Andre Villas-Boas first came to England, nobody seemed to know how to pronounce his name. Rather than learning how to do so, it seems we all just silently agreed to call him ‘AVB’ in a token gesture of mock fraternity. It sounds friendly enough, but such monikers are usually assigned through a feeling of warmth, the sort of which was sadly lacking for Villas-Boas until quite recently. Every post-Mourinho Chelsea manager has been a meat puppet in all but name, and Andy Veebs was no different, his inevitable failure expedited by the anticipation of said failure. When he was appointed manager at Tottenham, it seemed as if everyone expected another capitulation, with sections of the press readily pouncing on the merest sign of trouble. The bestowal of such an overly-familiar nickname was totally incongruous with the lukewarm bemusement that had welcomed his arrival at both clubs.
The truth, of course, is that paid analysts and broadcasters simply can’t be bothered to learn how to say it correctly, for fear of looking twatty, or worse, a bit foreign. Imagine Mark Lawrenson daring to nail the phonetics of On-dray Vil-ash boe-us, and Alan Shearer trying to keep a straight face as his colleague speaks with a funny continental lilt, like one of them European types with their small cups of coffee and ponytails. The notion of sounding vaguely pretentious or of perhaps not getting it correct apparently outweighs any embarrassment attached to demonstrating a lack of basic research. Imagine trying to learn how to say it the right way. There are only so many hours in the day after all. The idea!
Perhaps it would be harsh to identify the Portuguese as the unwitting harbinger of an anti-intellectualism that is ravaging our culture. But that’s exactly what I’m doing. “I would much rather call him AVB because I can’t be bothered saying his full name correctly” is what people are telling you when they refer to him as AVB. You shouldn’t call him that because he’s not your ‘bro’, and I suspect he would be horrified at the very thought of such a thing. It’s not too late to reinstate the ‘ndre illas oas’ to his name. Start today! Or tomorrow, whenever.