Jose Mourinho’s shadow looms ever larger for new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, but this will be nothing new – after all, the two have taken eerily similar paths to the top. But make no mistake, Villas-Boas arrives in South West London to face wholly different challenges to those Mourinho tackled back in 2004.

If anything, he will encounter the exact opposite. The current Real Madrid boss arrived at Stamford Bridge to rally an emerging squad that had talent but neither vast experience nor the mental toughness required to match the very best in England and Europe. He was able to put his stamp all over a team that was in many ways a blank canvas, signing players he knew and trusted to get the job done.

Villas-Boas has a different challenge. The current Chelsea squad is ageing, has no shortage of silverware in the cabinet and the dressing room contains a number of strong, established characters. Though he is armed with a transfer kitty of around £80M, a young manager and older players is not usually a happy marriage.

Mourinho walked into Stamford Bridge and found key players in their prime – John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. These three stars were the spine that the Portuguese built around. Fast forward seven years and that trio still forms the backbone for the Blues. But all three are declining – due to both injuries and loss of form. Terry will be 31 this year while Drogba and Lampard are 33. This season could be a last hurrah for the Terry-Lampard-Drogba core and Villas-Boas will be under pressure to get it right from the start.

And so this is the scene that greets Chelsea’s new hotshot manager, whose rise at FC Porto has been just as meteoric as his mentor’s. But do not be fooled by the negativity that surrounded Chelsea at the turn of the year. This team are still serious title contenders and Villas-Boas could make a strong case for having the most talented starting line-up in the Premier League. If Fernando Torres, signed for £50M in January, can recover his confidence and the form that made him Europe’s most lethal striker, the Blues might even be considered title favourites.

Much depends on whether Villas-Boas can make this established group buy into his philosophy and tactics. Mourinho won the players over instantly with his flawless preparation and focus. They hung on his every word and Terry, critically, was always in his corner. Now the man dubbed "The Special One 2.0" must do the same, with plenty of questions waiting for answers. Can Drogba and Torres play together or are the Ivorian’s days numbered at the Bridge? Will the pre-injury Michael Essien ever reappear? Will it be 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1?

Either way, it will require a change of approach. Villas-Boas made his name at Porto with an adventurous, young group. Forwards Hulk, 24, and Falcao, 25, were pivotal in the club’s run to domestic and European successes and the team played with the type of free-flowing energy that was rarely seen from the Blues last season. He needs to inject the same freshness into the Chelsea squad – and help may be on the way with the possibility that Falcao and classy central midfielder Joao Moutinho might follow Villas-Boas from Porto to England, as yet more Mourinho déjà vu surfaces.

But Villas-Boas has been keen to establish his own personality and character, away from the inevitable Mourinho shadow. “I didn’t take the Porto job nor the Chelsea job because Jose made the same steps,” he explains. “I think there is no way you can avoid comparison, it is something that is the interest of the media.

“The most important thing is to motivate the players to get their ambitions right, to reflect again on what the club has achieved in the last six years and we need to keep this route to success. I feel confident I can respond to the ambitions of the supporters and the ambitions of the owner and the administration.”

Villas-Boas’ arrival provides an intriguing subplot ahead of the 2011/12 campaign and, for now, English supporters should embrace the fact that he chose the Premier League rather than La Liga to test himself. Only time will tell whether the Portuguese can put Stamford Bridge under his spell in the way that his countryman Mourinho did so spectacularly during his three-year stint.