Andre Villas-Boas is a Gamble that Could Pay Off for Tottenham Hotspur

The appointment of Andre Villas-Boas by Daniel Levy may have more financial connotations to it than it does football. The Portuguese was a free agent and thus Levy did not have to spend millions in compensation fees. Secondly, AVB’s failures at Chelsea and his young age meant that he could hardly command hefty wages and his pay-packet is unlikely to be much larger than the one Redknapp would have been taking home, if at all.

Despite all that, Villas Boas’ appointment can be justified from a footballing perspective. He is a very tactically astute manager. This is in stark contrast to Redknapp, whom Rafael Van Der Vaart claims would put the starting eleven up in the dressing room twenty minutes before warm up on match day and say: “You play left or right, work hard, have fun and show the fans your best.” This is obviously a simplistic view of Redknapp’s tactical nous, but it could hardly be any more different to Villas Boas. AVB supposedly spends hours mulling over certain issues in his sides line-ups, researching his opponents and obsesses over every movement on the training field. Come kick off, every player knows his exact role he is expected to play down to the last detail.

The current Spurs squad would be very appealing to Andre Villas-Boas. It is packed with fast, skilful players that fit like a glove into his preferred system of a high pressing 4-3-3. At Porto, his players mastered this system to devastating effect, winning the Portuguese League in unbeaten fashion and lifting the Europa League in his first season in charge. He got the most out of Porto’s most talented individuals such as Hulk, Moutinho and Fernando.

In short, Porto’s tactics were not unlike Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. Starting from attack, every player pressed and closed down the ball to force the opponent into a mistake. The backline pushed high up the pitch to reduce the space the opposition had to manoeuvre, whilst the midfield was a mixture of hustlers and playmakers.  When the ball was won back, Porto’s attack would widen, their full backs would burst forward in support and their centre forward would take up the “number 9” position to finish off attacks.

Tottenham can play a very similar system to that of AVB’s successful Porto side. The key however is if Spurs can keep hold of Luka Modric and successfully sign Emmanuel Adebayor. Daniel Levy is a very shrewd businessman, and will not let Modric leave for a penny less than his asking price. If Real Madrid is unwilling to match Levy’s price, Modric will stay for at least another season. The same thing happened last summer with Chelsea when AVB highlighted the midfielder as the missing piece of his jigsaw. As each day passes the likelihood of Modric staying increases, and the Croatian is professional enough to work hard on the pitch and remain focus on Tottenham’s aims should he have to stay at White Hart Lane for another year. In the case of Adebayor, he is a striker that Spurs desperately needs. Jermain Defoe is not good enough to bag 25 goals a season, and the Togolese footballer showed last season that he can be very clinical when he wants to. Villas Boas’ side needs a proven goalscorer, and Adebayor could benefit immensely from the crossing of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.

In central midfield, Spurs seem to have a natural balance. Luka Modric is the chief playmaker and the clubs most important player. He will be crucial in the transition between the defense and attack, whilst alongside him will likely be Scott Parker who will kick-start attacks with his harrying and tackling (after he recovers from injury in four weeks). Sandro is one player who could benefit from AVB’s preferred line up. Giving his defensive and attacking capabilities, he is a versatile player and could fill the role required in any midfield position. In support will be the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore as well as new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson. Defensively, the two full backs of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker are both very quick and more than capable of aiding attacks, though the defensive sides of their games need to improve.

Spurs’ major issue seems to be a lack of depth. Should one of their wingers pick up an injury, Danny Rose is likely to deputize and he is not good enough to help push Spurs to a top 4 finish. In central defense, the club may feel the loss of Ledley King. Jan Vertonghen seems like a good signing, but his cover comes in the shape of William Gallas who is on his last legs at 35, or youngster Steven Caulker who is yet to make a competitive appearance for the club.

So long as Levy accepts a top 4 finish as satisfactory, Villas-Boas may be given enough time to reap the rewards of his system. The pressure at Tottenham will likely be easier to handle than that of Chelsea. Arsenal will be their rivals for the last Champions League spot, and Spurs have shown over the past few seasons that they can compete with the best. If all goes well this year, Villas Boas could easily find himself back in the Champions League and can really put his managerial abilities to the test. On the other hand, should a repeat of his Chelsea fiasco take place, his reputation as a top-level manager will be in tatters, and Levy’s hard work in developing Tottenham into a top four side will be undone in an instant. It’ll be interesting to see if this gamble pays off.

10 thoughts on “Andre Villas-Boas is a Gamble that Could Pay Off for Tottenham Hotspur”

    1. Gallas is 4th or 5th choice CB, not too much of a worry.

      However, lots of jumps to conclusions taken with this article, not great.

  1. “A gamble that could pay off” – whoa, you just blew my mind Joel! A gamble that could pay off…is that possible? Is one able to gamble and have it pay off? These high level concepts are bending my mind.

  2. He’s a smart guy, the problem is the perception of him being too smart for his own good is out there.

    AVB played his part in getting himself sacked from CFC but there were other forces who conspired against him as well. His kind of football needs athletic players and I think Spurs are lacking those pieces in midfield and defense, as Chelsea did last year.

    If he can modify his style around the players he has and hopes to bring in, then maybe he can have the kind of impact Daniel Levy needs along with all Spurs supporters.

    The media is going to be against him until he proves himself in England.

  3. look for a 4-3-3- I’d wager City blinks first on Adebayor and gives Manny what he’s asking, they understand the issue with distractions on a team from last year.
    Sandro is a solid even superior replacement for Parker
    CB is deeper than last year- Kaboul-Dawson-Vertongen
    I’m not sweating Modric 1 way or the other- I have faith if he stays he does well and if he goes I expect a very solid player coming in
    don’t forget Raffy as an ideal scoring option late and vs target teams
    Bale and Lennon on the wings (or Bale in center even)-Siggy all suggest AVB has the kind of athletes he needs to run his formation especially in the back and on wings

  4. Surely Caulker played in the League Cup defeat to Ar*enal…may not have been sufficiently “competitive” though !!

  5. Depends on AVB getting the right players to play the high line. If AVB does get the right defender(s) he will probably be successful and if not the season will be a long one for him.

  6. Let’s not get carried away, AVB had one good season, and that was with Porto in the Portuguese league, which really means you stuff Benfica a couple of times. Everything else has been a disaster. He was even eclipsed by the bloke who worked for him.

    Spurs haven’t made the signings they need this Summer. After the watching the Chelsea debacle perhaps players are wary of joining a team with an untried manager.

  7. Let’s not forget AVB had Falcao (IMO the striker we NEED at Spurs) + Hulk that year.. and the Europa League isn’t that difficult to win if you take it seriously.

    I’ve also read alot about AVB’s tactical genius… but even my Gran wouldn’t force the slowest Back 4 (Chelski) in the Premier League to play the high line! Surely you play to your strengths, teams in the Prem are generally brilliant when counter-attacking and they cut through Chelski like butter (to the point I often mocked my Blue colleagues about that very point).

    HOWEVER.. with Kaboul, Walker, BAE and Vertonghen we probably have the quickest back 4 so it “might” just work…

    I don’ t really agree that Adepaymore is more clinical than JD… he’s a better all round player which is why he’s better suited to the Central Striker role in a 4-3-3 than Jermain who favours working alongside a giant BUT EA’s finishing ain’t all that.

    I think he’ll play
    Bale – Ade/Defoe – Lennon
    Siggy – VDV
    BAE – Kaboul – Jan – Walker
    New GK

    Whether we like it or not AVB IS a risk and we won’t know how it’s working out til Xmas but we need to get behind him and cross everything we’ve got that he’s not another Gross, Santini, Ramos!

    And Levy… buy that Falcao geezer for christs sake! :-)

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