AVB's Spurs Are Soaring And They Have Chelsea To Thank

He cost €15m to bring to Stamford Bridge, but after less than a year, Chelsea sacked him. Now Spurs are benefitting from the managerial qualities of Villas-Boas and it's all down to the ruthlessness of Abramovich.
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He cost €15m to bring to Stamford Bridge, but after less than a year, Chelsea sacked him. Now Spurs are benefitting from the managerial qualities of Villas-Boas and it's all down to the ruthlessness of Abramovich.

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It was somewhat poetic that Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogged Chelsea into third place after the 27th Premier League game of the season. Head coach Andre Villas-Boas was relieved of his duties at Stamford Bridge almost a year to the day in Spurs' 3-2 win over West Ham United after a defeat to West Bromwich Albion - the 27th of the season almost 12 months ago - and a loss to Napoli that left the Blues on the verge of a Champions League exit.

The stories of his demise at Chelsea has been overly documented. Player revolt, supposedly led by John Terry and Frank Lampard, and dressing room disharmony ultimately saw Roman Abramovich relieve the 35-year-old of his duties less than 12 months into his three year deal in west London.

Regardless of his exploits at FC Porto, many a media outlet focused on his torrid time with the Blues and, as a result, had been expected to see Villas-Boas, ultimately, steer clear of England for the foreseeable future at least.

Inter Milan, of whom he worked as Jose Mourinho's assistant with between 2008 and 2009, were reportedly keen on taking him back to the San Siro, this time as manager following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri before promoting from within and announcing Andrea Stramaccioni as the Italian's successor.

As such, Spurs moved to snare Villas-Boas following the decision to sack Harry Redknapp last summer. The laugh from Blues fans could be heard across the capital, while a number of fans were dismayed to see the veteran boss given the boot at the expense of bringing in the “Chelsea Failure”.

A slow start to the season saw the critics voice their opinion louder, but while life at White Hart Lane wasn't as perfect as a number of the supporters had expected, there were those that fought in the corner of Villas-Boas, with those confident that the young tactician will leave a lasting impression in north London.

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Fast forward to the present day and a 12 game unbeaten streak in the Premier League has left Spurs seven points clear of fifth placed Arsenal and in the position to strengthen their grasp on third with a win over Liverpool on Sunday, albeit having played a game more than Chelsea who travel to Manchester United for an FA Cup tie on the same day.

From those Chelsea fans that were initially laughing from the day Villas-Boas had been given the green light to work his magic at Spurs, a little under two months after the Blues had secured Champions League glory, they're now casting envious eyes across London.

Having seen Roberto Di Matteo given the boot out of Stamford Bridge, regardless of his exploits in the FA Cup and Europe, bewildered supporters collectively scratched their heads as to why the Italian had been given the boot by Abramovich, only to see Rafael Benitez handed the reins; a move that certainly didn't go down well with the fans.

'Rafa Out!' banners were littered around Stamford Bridge, as Spurs marched to a 3-1 win over West Ham United on the same afternoon. Since the 0-0 draw with Manchester City on the 25th of November, the stalemate included, Chelsea have picked up 28 under Benitez. Spurs have mustered 37 in the the same period.

Granted, a Champions League victory over Bayern Munich only occurred as a result of Villas-Boas receiving the sack, such was the likelihood of Chelsea crashing out of Europe at the expense of Napoli following a 3-1 defeat to the Partenopei at the Stadio San Paolo.

Nevertheless, the ongoing trials and tribulations at Stamford Bridge, coupled with the lack of stability, as evidenced during Benitez's recent well measured critique of the club, has fans banging their head against the wall as to what direction they head next.

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Meanwhile, Spurs have enjoyed their longest unbeaten run in their Premier League history and continue to build for the future, with the current squad built around the likes of Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Sandro, while progressing with the construction of the new stadium on the current site of White Hart Lane.

Following the respective departures of Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric and the retirement of Ledley King, many had tipped Spurs to struggle, while the media vitriol towards Villas-Boas upon his arrival was nothing short of spectacular.

Yet while the hatred thrust his way would've been enough to drive any manager away from the English game forever, he picked himself up, dusted himself down and has clearly learnt from his mistakes during his time at Chelsea.

The Blues, on the other hand, continuously head through a process of uncertainty, encapsulated in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League on Thursday, having been dubbed the worst Champions League champions since its 1992 inception after bowing out of the competition in the group stage.

Regardless of the £2bn+ Abramovich has spent on player transfers and wages since taking over in 2003, Chelsea can't quite garner the stability required to really push on and establish themselves as regular title challengers, with Benitez being the 10th manager during the 10 year reign of the Russian oligarch.

While Spurs, in the past, haven't ideally held onto managers as long as perhaps anticipated in their history - Villas-Boas is the 12th manager at White Hart Lane during Arsene Wenger's time at rivals Arsenal - at least with the 35-year-old, chairman Daniel Levy is prepared to allow him to work his managerial magic, regardless of calls to sack the Portuguese tactician from some early in his time at the club.

Either way, after shelling out €15m to take Villas-Boas to Chelsea from Porto almost two years ago, Spurs supporters remain thankful of Abramovich and his ruthlessness regarding under performing managers, as the Blues run the risk of falling out of the top four, regardless of the poor form of Arsenal, Villas-Boas and his Spurs side continue to rise up the Premier League and as the 3-0 win over Inter proves, the domineering displays in Europe also.