Villas-Boas targets Russian title
© AFP

Andre Villas-Boas has set his sights on adding the Russian championship to his CV after taking charge of Zenit St Petersburg on a two-year contract.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham manager has formally replaced long-serving Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti the day after the club were eliminated from the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund. Only nine games of the Russian Premier League season remain and Zenit trail leaders Lokomotiv Moscow by three points ahead of the run-in.

The clubs meet in the capital in May, however, and Villas-Boas therefore believes a maximum return of 27 points will deliver Zenit their fifth Russian championship. The 36-year-old Portuguese told fc-zenit.ru: "The first step is to win the Russian league. That's the main thing now. If we win all nine matches, Zenit will be champion. My goal is to bring Zenit to the top. That's what I want to do."

Villas-Boas had a watching brief in Dortmund as interim boss Sergey Semak oversaw Zenit's 2-1 victory on Wednesday night. Hulk - a star player under Villas-Boas during his successful Porto reign - and Jose Salomon Rondon scored for the visitors while Sebastian Kehl notched for last season's runners-up.

This is an important step for me, that suits my ideas and my career.
Andre Villas-Boas

The result on the night was not good enough to guide the Russians through as Dortmund won 5-4 on aggregate. Villas-Boas thanked Semak for restoring a winning spirit to the team, but expects to bring in his own backroom staff.

"It was an excellent result for sure," he said. "The main thing is that Zenit played as a team: I saw the team's spirit. I would like to thank Sergey Semak for his work during these days in the interim period.

"Obviously I need assistants who suit my philosophy of the game, who can build team play from my point of view. I'm thankful to the people who worked during the interim period, but changes have to be made."

Villas-Boas, who had been out of work since leaving Spurs in December, did not hesitate to accept Zenit's offer. He added: "To be honest, there was no difficulty in taking this decision for me, because Zenit is a well-known club in Europe. The ideas that led to this decision suit my own ideas about football. This is an important step for me, that suits my ideas and my career."