Andre Villas-Boas has received a lot of stick during his brief time in England with Chelsea and now with Tottenham Hotspur, but is it all completely warranted?
After accepting the Managerial position at Spurs, and filling the Spurs fans with new-found confidence, the Portuguese manager began his Spurs tenure by accepting the loss of Croatian talisman Luka Modric. Much like AVB, the Spurs fans had also expected the midfield maestro to be leaving this season after the North London side unluckily failed to obtain Champions League qualification – but what they wanted to know was who their new manager had lined up as his replacement. Many names were touted around: Nuri Sahin as some sort of the Modric deal; Joao Moutinho who was rumoured to be minutes away from being a Tottenham player; Kaka on some sort of loan deal, among others. None of these moves materialised and, despite many considering the summer transfer window a success for Spurs, no like-for-like replacement for Modric was brought in. But was this really AVB’s fault? Many seem to be blaming him for it.
Football fans are very fickle; none more so than the Spurs fans. A fan-base with huge (often considered unrealistic) aspirations for their team, AVB was facing a difficult battle winning them over. With only two points acquired after their first three games, the patience of the fans is already wearing thin. Half-time against Norwich prompted boos from some segments of the crowd. But are these boos fair? Do Spurs fans need to be a bit more realistic and accept that AVB wasn’t going to make Spurs title-contenders overnight?
What a lot of the AVB critiques are forgetting is that, before the Portuguese joined the White Hart Lane outfit Spurs were in decline – having acquired just 16 points out of their last 18 games. The fans calling for the reinstallation of Harry Redknapp as manager are forgetting that under his guidance, Spurs let a 10 point lead over arch-rivals Arsenal slip and with that failed to finish third and in turn failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Although Redknapp turned Tottenham into a very exciting team, with their wing-heavy pacey counter-attacking football thought of as one of the most thrilling brands in the league, there was often no plan B. This lack of alternative was shown in their collapse midway through last season. Villas Boas has chosen to not implement this style of football however, much to the frustration of the Spurs faithful. Instead, the Portuguese virtuoso has continued his faith in a narrow 4-2-3-1: the formation that brought him so much success in the Primeira Liga – if it aint broke... Although it seems the style isn’t quite suited to the current Spurs crop. Despite earning no rave reviews for performances so far this term, one positive to be taken from employing this formation is that Tottenham have created a lot of chances (48 shots in 3 games, resulting in only 3 goals) and have rattled the woodwork more than any other team so far this campaign. This could, of course, be spun to read that Tottenham have been painfully ineffective in front of goal, but nevertheless, AVB cannot be blamed for the lack of composure shown, can he?
With Andre Villas Boas at the helm, Spurs will be better prepared for the future.
Despite the results not filling any Spurs fan with confidence, there are reasons to back their manager. AVB clearly is a very intelligent man, with his analytical nous providing Jose Mourinho the information on upcoming adversaries during his time as Head of Opposition Scouting throughout the Mourinho era at Chelsea. These in-depth documents were full of the tactical subtleties that opponents may execute in upcoming matches. If he can use this analytical ability to establish how his Tottenham team works best then the Spurs team could be looking at some success. This, however, takes time. Will the Spurs faithful give their current manager the time to work these changes? Of course, it would be considered a risk to stay loyal to the Portuguese manager if the results are still not going Tottenham’s way – but in the long-run it could be beneficial.
Along with his astute analytical mind, AVB is a key believer in developing youth prospects – seen through Jake Livermore’s three starts this season, and Andros Townsend featuring in each of the three squads. Spurs are a club that do not boast the longest list of successful academy graduates, with only Ledley King, Nick Barmby and Peter Crouch representing England following Spurs academy roots. John Bostock, Wayne Routledge, Adel Taarabt and most recently Giovani Dos Santos are all players that have seen their once exciting prospects stall whilst at the North London club – Villas-Boas will be doing all he can to prevent this happening. With Spurs featuring against Barcelona in the NextGen Tournament on Thursday, there are a host of new and exciting prospects for Tottenham’s new head coach’s perusal: Alex Pritchard, Shaq Coulthirst and Souleymayne Coulibaly the brightest names to look out for, among others. With Andre Villas Boas at the helm, Spurs will be better prepared for the future.
All in all, it’s a difficult position that AVB finds himself in. A lot of fans are calling for his head after just three games in charge of Tottenham, which can probably be attributed to the media’s representation of him. With a bit of patience and loyalty (something that Spurs are not famous for) AVB could take Spurs to the summit of the Premier League, he certainly has the ability to given the backing of the board and fans. But how likely is that? I give him ‘til Christmas…
Follow Lucas on twitter (@lucas_howe)
Click here for more stories on Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook