Spurs: AVB's An Astute Coach But Needs To Wisen Up Politically Before It's Too Late
The events that followed Tottenham’s game with Manchester United yesterday were arguably even more gripping than the pulsating 2-2 draw itself and left a couple of interesting questions. If, as Andre Villas Boas says, the criticism he has been getting over the past week has been agenda-driven, what is the agenda and whose is it?
A Desmond against the in-form champions was a good result for Tottenham and an even better one for the manager. More than the scoreline it was the determined demeanor of the team that provided the respite he so sorely needed after a nightmarish week of speculation surrounding his job.
Football hacks’ toes are not easily curled but the post match press conference became uncomfortable when AVB seized the opportunity to round on his critics. In particular he named The Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton, who was present, and Martin Samuel, rightly accusing them of making personal attacks on him and twisting his words following the Manchester City mauling.
Villas Boas also got a retaliatory dig in at former Spurs owner Lord Sugar who has been rubbishing him for some time via Twitter and last week went on talkSPORT to stick the boot in some more.
AVB said the invective was disrespectful to himself, the club the players and the fans adding ‘It's their team, their passion and they don't trade it for anything else, not like Alan Sugar who trades it for money.’
He was measured, cool and dignified throughout but by turning the situation into a public tit-for-tat rather than keeping his own counsel, AVB is taking a risk.
He didn’t mention the piece in last Tuesday’s Guardian by David Hytner - regarded as well informed about THFC - which said the patience of the board is wearing thin and they are looking at possible alternatives.
Tellingly, Lord Sugar’s pre-game Tweet yesterday was: ‘Sedate mood in Spurs boardroom. No predictions coming from anyone’.
So a man who openly and persistently slags off the manager is welcomed with open arms in the boardroom and then blithely publicises the pessimism therein. This rather suggests that the ‘agenda’ is AVB’s removal and belongs to people close to the centre of power.
Spurs insiders will tell you that Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp were unpopular with powerful figures at White Hart Lane long before their results turned bad. In both cases they were fired as soon there was the vaguest whiff of an excuse.
In the aftermath of the Man City trauma Villas Boas has proved again that he is not only an astute and motivational coach but also a resilient one. He needs to quickly learn how to be an equally clever politician.