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AVB sets Zenit ambition

20 March 2014, 15:37

Moscow - Former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas on Thursday set high ambitions on his first day of work as manager of Zenit St Petersburg, saying he wanted to build up the team just as Peter the Great had constructed the Russian city.

Zenit have brought in Villas-Boas, 36, as manager in the hope he can take the side to European glory after sacking his predecessor Luciano Spalletti for failing to win more big silverware.

The Saint Petersburg's team owners, Russian state gas giant Gazprom, want him to make a real impact in the Champions League next season after the side went out of this season's competition in a 4-5 aggregate defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

"I want to do the same for your team as Peter the Great did for Saint Petersburg," Villas-Boas told reporters in his first news conference, referring to the Russian Tsar who founded the former imperial capital in 1703.

"It is a fantastic city," he said, adding he would be learning Russian.

Villas-Boas, as in his English management days, dressed impeccably in a designer suit and tie, spoke in Portuguese during the press conference but began with a cheery "Dobry Den" (Good Day) in Russian.

The Jose Mourinho protege, who has been out of work since being sacked by Spurs last year, said he barely hesitated when he first received the Zenit offer last week.

"I saw the big ambitions of the leadership in the shape of Gazprom," Villas-Boas said.

"I was happy to be invited as it is in line with my goals and my ambitions. I hope to achieve good results with Zenit," he added.

Villas-Boas said his immediate aim for the rest of the season was to win the remaining nine matches in the Russian League and take the Russian title.

Zenit are currently locked in a tight championship tussle with a resurgent Lokomotiv Moscow.

Gazprom has showed its ambition with the purchase of Brazilian star Hulk and Belgium's Axel Witsel for a reported 100 million euros -- the biggest transfer buys in Russian football history -- but they have yet to turn the team into world beaters.

With Portuguese players, including defender Luis Neto and midfielder Miguel Danny also in the Zenit side as well as the Brazilian Hulk, Gazprom will be hoping the Portuguese connection will be a huge plus.

Villas-Boas managed Hulk at Porto while Witsel arrived from their great Lisbon rivals Benfica.

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