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Why Andre Villas-Boas Deserved More Time and Support As Tottenham Manager

Perhaps it was the relationship between the tabloids and his predecessor Harry Redknapp. Maybe it was the fact he never played soccer at a professional level. Or maybe it was his attitude, but for whatever reason the knives were out for Andre Villas-Boas from the very beginning of his Tottenham Hotspur tenure. Tasked with making the club younger while maintaining competitiveness and selling his best players, some would say the now sacked Tottenham manager did just fine in his job over the past year and a half.

To say Spurs defied the established expectations for them in the 2012-13 season would be an understatement. Stripped of Luka Modrić by Real Madrid and asked to refresh the squad, AVB recorded a record Premier League points haul for Spurs finishing just six points out of second place in the league (as compared to twenty points adrift of second place in Redknapp’s final season), yet we were greeted with consistent articles about how Spurs had “regressed” under AVB.  This came after many prognosticators picked Tottenham to finish between 7-9th in the league. The regression theme was painted in the summer of 2012 and the media rarely if ever came off it even when Spurs were winning at Old Trafford and ripping Arsenal apart at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham owner Daniel Levy gave AVB a difficult task and three years to complete it, or so we previously thought. Freshen up the squad, continue to be competitive, play attractive football and sell your best players — that was the mission handed to AVB by Levy.

This season, thanks to the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham Technical Director Franco Baldini acted as if he was playing a video game over the summer bringing in players from virtually every top European league and expecting a manager to mesh them into a cohesive unit overnight. Add to that the requirement that younger Tottenham Academy products such as Danny Rose and Andros Townsend be molded into the side as well. It was never going to happen quickly if one is realistic and yet the burden of doing this was placed on AVB, and every time adversity struck the media went crazy.

AVB is an operator who is in firm control of his emotions typically, but a few weeks ago he lost his cool at a press conference following the 2-2 draw with Manchester United. It was a reaction that indicated the manager was cracking under the pressures of the job. Yet Spurs haven’t really lost touch with the top four all season, sitting just five points from fourth place, currently precariously held by Manchester City a side whose football away from home in the league has been far worse than Spurs. Above City in 3rd currently are a Chelsea side whose good fortune on multiple occasions this season more than anything accounts for their current league position. It’s not difficult to see that despite being on the reverse end of some humiliating score lines, Spurs were not far off from being a very competitive side at the top end of the Premier League table.

So where does Levy go from here? Does he let the tabloids, so loyal to Harry Redknapp as Roy Hodgson continues to find out after every questionable England result, dictate his next move? Does he go for a tired retread of a manager or does he go to the continent to look for the next young thing, the next AVB? Whatever Levy does he must give AVB’s replacement time, the time that should have been given the manager he just sacked.

Editor’s note: For the latest Spurs news, analysis and opinion, visit the Tottenham Hotspur team page.

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  1. James

    December 16, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I’m sure we’ll learn more about who bought all these players and if AVB was consulted and if he had veto power.

    Whomever Spurs hire will need time. I cannot see anyone coming in and making a huge difference immediately.

  2. scrumper

    December 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    The spotlight should be put on Levy. Bringing in AVB was a huge risk. He already had previous with the Chelsea disaster. Spurs then sold their best player and chucked the money at AVB who spent it like a drunken sailor on 7-8 new players. Were Spurs that many players away from the other leading clubs? I don’t think so. It takes some time to integrate 2-3 new players, but 7-8 and expect immediate success is almost impossible. Coupled with a manager who didn’t exude confidence and it becomes a $100M mistake.

    The money payback for Levy and Lewis is Champions League i.e. top four and Spurs have already been thrashed by two of the teams fighting for these spots and are struggling to score goals. So money speaks, Levy is ruthless and the sacrificial lamb is AVB who really wasn’t up to the job in the first place.

    Bit of a mess at three point lane right now.

    • Mufc77

      December 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      I agree with you that bringing in 7-8 new players and expecting them to gel right away is a big ask. I just can’t help but wonder how many of those 7-8 players where AVBs choice.

      It’s one thing for AVB to tell his technical director/chairman to find him a new centre forward or midfielder but its another for the technical director/chairman to go out on their own and buy players that the manager didn’t ask for.

  3. abdirahman

    December 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    read the comments above i agree muffc77 avb suddenly lost his integrity and i can’t see him getting a top job in europe or even a mid-table team like after he failed both chelsea and spurs.we will never ever see him again thats for sure.

  4. gillyrosh

    December 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    So, I feel compelled to ask the same question I always ask when a manager gets fired: who replaces him?

    Strangely, this is the question that is always met with deafening silence. Because everybody loves to see the manager fired. It’s very cathartic, isn’t it? But when the “now what?” question is asked? *crickets*

    If Tottenham have been thinking about firing AVB for weeks, I’d like to think they also thought about who they’ll hire to replace him.

    But that’s not usually how these things go.

    • Brad

      December 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Once a manager gets fired you can gauge who is really interested in the job without having the rumors before you can the current manager.

      • Hickorywind

        December 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        That’s not much of a plan though. And just because someone is interested doesn’t mean they’d be an improvement.

      • gillyrosh

        December 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm

        Disagree. If they’ve been thinking of firing him for weeks, they should have a replacement in mind. If they are just firing him as a knee-jerk reaction, then they have bigger problems than AVB.

  5. rs691919

    December 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    AVB got himself fired. Record points meant nothing and means nothing. You can’t compare points from year to year – it’s meaningless. We finished 5th last year. We had finished 4th the year before that. We will be lucky to finish sixth this year because our attack is impotent and the defense is not good. The strategy of the now former manager was to play a high line with some of the slowest defenders in the PL. While clogging the middle with inverted wingers and slow midfielders. There was no fluidity, there was no pace, there was no crispness in the way we played.

    It’s hilarious that people can look at the world of football and think that coaches will last for years and years. Of the best European teams, only United and Arsenal have coaching continuity. All the other big teams keep their coaches for a few years and then they move on. There is no long term in football. AVB might possess a good mind, but he does not possess the flexibility to adjust his tactics to what is going on the pitch and what players are out there. That’s bad managing in a nutshell.

  6. Brad

    December 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    AVB underachieved at Chelsea and he was underachieving this season with Spurs. With the squad Spurs has this season and with Manchester United struggling Tottenham should be in top 4 right now, no questions asked. I just don’t think AVB is cut out to manage in England.

  7. Taylor

    December 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    The manner of defeats makes his position untenable.

  8. Hickorywind

    December 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Good points Kartik. I hope they already had a “plan” to bring in someone else if it came to this. Unfortunately, I doubt that’s the case. Too much short term thinking. Very frustrating for a Spurs fan.

  9. gillyrosh

    December 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Well stated, Kartik.

    This turn of events makes me wonder how much of that media praise of Daniel Levy and Tottenham’s transfer dealings resulted from mad spinning by the club after the sale of Gareth Bale.

    From the column: “and every time adversity struck the media went crazy.”

    Too true. The problem is modern managers are expected to hit the ground running. There doesn’t seem to be much stomach – from fans, pundits, media, owners – for the natural ups and downs of a sporting competition.

  10. Mufc77

    December 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Can someone do a welfare check on Dust.

    In all seriousness it doesn’t make sense to me to dump AVB for another manager who’s just going to want to bring in his own players. If you’re rebuilding anyway why not just see out the current campaign and then look at it again in May.

    The only way this makes any sense is if Levy has someone lined up and plans to let him spend more money in January which I can’t see happening.

  11. Smokey Bacon

    December 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

    In the cold light of day, it’s obvious he was overrated. He is a Portuguese Steve Mclaren rather than a younger version of Mourinho. It’s back to second tier leagues in Europe for him where he will need to work hard to rebuild his reputation.

  12. bennett311

    December 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Must’ve lost the respect of the players or asked them to include him in their goal celebrations…

  13. Dave

    December 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

    You need to be inside WHL to understand why this happened. If you’re not playing attractive football for us, we don’t want you. It’s as simple as that. As our saying goes “the game is about glory”, not grinding out 2-1 wins.

    • CTBlues

      December 16, 2013 at 10:56 am

      If you are playing pretty but not winning silverware what is the point?


      December 16, 2013 at 11:56 am

      There is know way ur serious. Your a front running spurs fan not a real one. Glory is about Winning games and Cups. 1-1(5-4), 2-1, 10-1, it DOESN’T matter about the score difference. Since when has spurs played attractive football they have always gutted it out.

  14. Same old story

    December 16, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Kartik makes some strong points here on Spurs.

    However, he cannot get through a full post without salivating over woeful Woy and taking shots at anyone who has the audacity to suggest Arry’ Redknapp has managerial credentials of any note.

    I am convinced beyond any doubt that Kartik is part of the agency repping Hodgson.

    Soon on WST. Poetic lyrical waxing “One night in Europe” a story of Fulham in the Europa League.

    Next week on WST. “How Hodgson made West Brom.”

    The following week. “How King Kenny Destroyed what Woy was building.”

    Then “Remembering when Woy took Finland to the Euros, a fictional account”

    Then the big one. “How Woy will lead England to World Cup Glory.”

    Stay tuned- it’s all coming on this Woy loving site.

  15. Mufc77

    December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I can’t see how he’s ever going to get another top job in Europe after this.

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