AVB backs Lukaku to shine
He may have overlooked him for almost the entire season at Chelsea, but Andre Villas-Boas is convinced that Romelu Lukaku is ready to take the Barclays Premier League by storm with West Brom this season.
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Lukaku arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer with high expectations following his £18million transfer from Anderlecht, but Villas-Boas snubbed the 19-year-old nearly all season.
Lukaku made just three starts under the Portuguese - all in the League Cup - and had to wait until after Villas-Boas was sacked before he began a Premier League game for the Blues.
The big striker has started this season with a bang, however. Lukaku came off the bench to score for Belgium against Holland last week and then found the net on his West Brom debut against Liverpool.
Lukaku is likely to line up for Albion against Villas-Boas' Tottenham on Saturday and the former Chelsea manager is convinced the Belgian can make waves in the top flight at the midlands club, where he is on a season-long loan.
"I think he is ready for the Premier League," Villas-Boas told a press conference.
"He is obviously a player with tremendous talent that competed last year against two of the world's best players at Chelsea.
"Lukaku had frustrations last year that you can understand. It's up to him to compete but when you compete against Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba the job is difficult.
"Had he overtaken those two to be on team selection every weekend it would have been a tremendous achievement for a 19-year-old."
Another familiar face Villas-Boas will run in to on Saturday is Baggies manager Steve Clarke, with whom he worked under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
Like Villas-Boas, Clarke has moved from the backroom staff to be a manager in his own right, and he started his tenure at the Hawthorns with a highly-impressive 3-0 defeat of Liverpool.
Clarke turned down other management positions before taking the helm at West Brom and Villas-Boas is sure that the Scot will be a success at the club.
"Steve has taken his steps very wisely and I'm happy he has achieved his ambition of becoming a manager," Villas-Boas said.
"I respect him a lot because he took those steps very sensibly. He got the opportunity to be in the Premier League in a club as well organised as West Brom where he can build something extremely good.
"It's an excellent opportunity for him so I am very happy for him.
"I congratulate him on getting the job and hopefully he can do very well."
Villas-Boas, himself a master of planning and preparation, was impressed with the way Clarke used his knowledge of Liverpool to tear apart the club he used to work for last Saturday.
"Obviously Steve Clarke knew Liverpool well and they had an amazing game last week," Villas-Boas said.
"It couldn't have gone any better - 3-0 against Liverpool on the opening day of the season is something immense.
"Steve is moving on from the great work that Roy Hodgson left at West Brom. He is improving them and making his own changes to the team in the first game of the season to great effect.
"They are a major threat on the counter, a good solid team defensively. They can cause a lot of damage so we need to be aware of that."
Villas-Boas' Tottenham reign started off with a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle, but the Portuguese can count himself unlucky not to have taken at least a point after his team rattled the woodwork twice.
The 34-year-old now hopes his team will bounce back with a win in what will be his first game in the home dugout at White Hart Lane.
"It is going to be exciting to be at White Hart Lane," Villas-Boas said.
"Last year I was always under the impression that it was one of the most difficult grounds to play at and now it's our own home ground so we have to take advantage of that."