Grand expectations befell André and Spurs

Whatever faith in André Villas-Boas left in after the trip to the Etihad more than a fortnight prior to last Sunday, was destroyed by a Reds contingent of Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling and Luis Suárez. The scorers for Brendan Rodgers’ side plundered Tottenham’s goal to record their biggest win against the north Londoners away from home since 1976. Daniel Levy’s scowl beaming down from the upper decks of White Hart Lane into the dugout way below gave the firm impression that the hand to show Villas-Boas the door was forced, rather than voluntarily.

Suffering such an ignominy cannot be ignored, and that consensus among Tottenham’s board members was keenly felt. The best course of action, in their mind, was to seek agree the termination of his services. He becomes the sixth managerial change since the beginning of the season. The 36-year-old’s reign lasted almost 18 months, succeeding from Harry Redknapp in July last year. However, now being his second stint in London, previously having managed Chelsea, he has left the Premier League with a bitter exit.

That leaves his now former club someway off the pace in the league table. Tottenham trail Manchester City, who are in fourth, by five points. Three defeats in six and having not won at home since 27 October against Hull City now leads them to facing a potentially troubling run of fixtures over the next month. Added with Europa League qualification successfully achieved by winning all six group games, it gives them a stern test of welcoming former boss Juandé Ramos back to the Lane.

What can perhaps be drawn from Villas-Boas’ tenure is that, whilst there is criticism of him, the issues of why Tottenham have not achieved their level of expectations, are as much about confidence and assurance as personnel. The latter has been addressed in a number of areas, particularly in the summer, however it has produced unremarkable results so far. Much is made of the most expensive acquisitions, Roberto Soldado (£26m) and Érik Lamela (£25.7m), but Paulinho (£16m), who leads the signings in most appearances, has struggled to maintain consistent form.

Kaboul and Dawson vs Manchester City away

Similar to his spell at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas could not find a suitable system from which to allow potency to develop throughout the team. It came at the discernible deterioration of being unable to maintain a steady flow of goals. Among Christian Eriksen, Lewis Holtby, Nacer Chadli, Gylfi Sigurðsson and Andros Townsend, the five played 23 times altogether but managed just three goals. Ahead of them, in frequented rotation, was Soldado who has scored four goals in 14 games. It is clear among them, that there is a capability for production to amount. The case is to be made whether it can be quietly balanced among them that can, in turn, mitigate their striker’s own endeavours to repay the faith shown in him. It could be a practical change, by instead of using a 4-2-3-1 formation involving three more advanced midfielders, that a 4-3-3 is used instead. Wide, touchline-hugging players, with a compact and physically aggressive core midfield.

Or it could be a slightly more complicated proposal that looks to rebuild seemingly shot confidence. And confidence, being such a fickle intangible to control, is multifactorial. There can be explicit reasons for why players struggle, but also subtle signs to indicate something else. Gareth Bale’s much-documented transfer to Real Madrid for £86 million played as big a part in the summer window for Tottenham. Whilst the Welshman pushed for the move, his then-coach was of the intention for him to remain for at least one more season. It was not to be, and he subsequently left for Spain.

It is now that, with Bale’s absence, that there are few, if any players that can have an impact of games similar to him. The Wales international thrived in two outstanding seasons, equally shared between Harry Redknapp and André Villas-Boas that showed his progression from an excitingly talented left-sided player into an explosive wide man. Even more so that, pairing with an emerging first-team player in the equally fleet of foot Andros Townsend, fourth place could have been an even stronger expectation in achieving. But those close to Villas-Boas, including Baldini worked closely to build around him and not directly replace, adding further depth and options.

André Villas Boas and Manuel Pellegrini vs Manchester City away

But Villas-Boas is not absolved of all blame. It’s fair to say that his indecisiveness and has not been the first time to befall him. There were times of derision at Chelsea where the former Porto coach could not direct criticism away from the team and convert it into positive outcomes. He remained rigid to his methods and, in doing that, angered his own players, as well as making decisions for which he expected them to adapt to, even without having made preparations for them in training. This was notable in the 2-0 defeat to then-Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool. Chelsea attempted to respond to going down to the Reds with a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 formation and become more incisive through the centre. It backfired and confusion abounded as to why they did not adopt something which had more familiarity among the players.

Another was, potentially, lack of trust. Whilst there is a case to be made for Érik Lamela’s struggles to adapt to life in England – AVB adamantly putting it down to a “culture shock”, and a need of patience to be had earlier this month – the Argentinean’s restriction to a lack of starts confounded some. Some of the games that he was on the bench could have, potentially, been games for the 21-year-old to start in. He collaborated closely with Franco Baldini and Steffen Freund, two men he had vouched for to come in and join his backroom staff, but didn’t transmit the same to the players.

Whatever is done now will need to be done with carefulness. Tim Sherwood taking over first-team duties, being favoured by chairman Daniel Levy, suggests that he will be the club’s short-term solution. In the meantime a long-term manager will be sought after in order to rehash objectives in order to be obtained prior to the end of the season. With European qualification, the top four will still remain a key objective. Elsewhere, the addition of new players may come in January, however the next coach will have much more control in that aspect than perhaps Sherwood, unless he is appointed permanently.

As for André, his reputation has taken some beating. He will need to re-establish himself as a forward-thinking coach he is elsewhere where he can have foundations to which he raised his skills on in Porto. Having left Portugal since, he has not been able to adapt. Perhaps his next destination would be Spain or Italy, the question is to be answered in due course. For now however, he may want to just be left alone.

One thought on “Grand expectations befell André and Spurs

  1. Well i forecast this on twitter even when we was riding high because AVB was persistent in picking players Thursday and expecting them to win Sunday. Every week we was playing catch up while the top six had all but played Sat and the pressure was on every week. During this period we lost 8 points after Thursday games and i lost count of the warnings i tweeted about teams targeting tired legs aided by swallowing Supplemented so they could press tired legs. When i seen the team for Thursdays dead rubber my heart sank and i knew what was coming a hiding and sure enough when the team sheet came in for Sunday it only confirmed my fears. We have been beat twice by North West Teams where i live and i knew one thing was certain Liverpool would not miss Gerrard and City would not miss Kompany . What staggered me was seeing Negredo and Nasri on the tunnel cam before the game swallowing Red Bull energy drinks turning away from the camera to drink it. I no this is not a banned substance but this shows what footballers will do to gain a competitive edge from a team who had played in the energy sapping snow covered plastic pitch in Tronso. The fact footballers have every known drink and once banned but now allowed Caffeine yet still Negredo Nasri needed Red Bull to gain those extra yards to demolish Spurs. Now to why i knew we would be targeted by Liverpool and City i have known for some time Ephedrine is being used to help teams press for most if not all the 90+ mins of a football game and the FA Ukad no but cant catch or wont tarnish the brand Sky BT There was a top four team in 2009 reported for using this banned substance code name T20 I wont bore you with the rest but this team was nicknamed the Duracell Bunnies wind them up they run all day by a European Manager who suspected something. Well i found out he was right they would also have the name for come backs and that year missed out by a whisker and finished second with a forward on fire. This is now part of there History because they got reported got into dept and left top four and the facts are wee conceded 11 goals to teams who have both had Kolo Toure the only man caught in there back four . When i spoke to UK Sport whose job it was in 2009 to test players but also promote the game two hats and conflicting jobs they staggered me by saying Ephedrine was present her words and it was rife but they are under the radar. Well i thought when Kolo Toure failed a test they was getting to grips with this cheating but i found out Toure was unused sub against Utd full up and just unlucky. What this meant Mancini must have not known what is players where doing and later he got sacked well AVB must also not no whats going on in prem to attempt to play Liverpool with a weak back four one striker one winger and players used on Thursday he payed the price. I never liked AVB style but like all fans backed him but i had the knowledge he never had What i predicted come true from a team i knew would play at a breakneck tempo like our under 21 found out who also got beat 5-0 five different scorers the first team had four different players who where all full of lets say Red Bull that gave them and City wings.

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