AVB: The right man at the right time for Tottenham?
Former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has been announced as the new Tottenham manager taking over from Harry Redknapp, a shrewd signing considering the 34-year-old’s coaching ability.
There’s no doubt Daniel Levy has taken a risk on Villas-Boas; after parting company with Harry Redknapp because he failed to deliver Champions League football to White Hart Lane, Levy needed to bring a big time manager to the Lane.
Spurs played a good attacking brand of football under Redknapp and were denied Champions League football because Villas-Boas’ former team went on to lift the trophy against all the odds. For sure Spurs should have finished third, but 99 times out of 100, finishing fourth means Champions League football.
Spurs fans wanted a big-name manager to take over and take the club onto the next level of challenging for the Premier League. “Harry has taken us as far as he could,” said one fan, “but instead of the big name they was expecting, they have that cocky young Portugueser who f****d it up at Chelsea.”
Villas-Boas made mistakes at Chelsea that led to his dismissal – that’s for sure – but the situation at Chelsea wasn’t normal. Villas-Boas was expected to clear out the ageing squad, whilst playing an attractive brand of football, and whilst being successful at the same time. The established players didn’t like and they showed it on the pitch. No matter who you are, if players don’t agree with something you won’t get anywhere.
The Spurs job is different from this. He isn’t expected to break up a successful team; instead he has been given a squad of top-quality players and asked to take them further than Redknapp managed to.
However, these are mistakes he will certainly have learned from, and will undoubtedly make him a better manager. It’s easy to forget that before his spell at Chelsea, Villas-Boas did win the Europa League with FC Porto playing good football. His coaching credentials shouldn’t be questioned, and his eight months at Chelsea will have given him vital experience going into the Spurs job.
One of Villas-Boas’ biggest mistakes at Chelsea was insisting to stick to his footballing philosophy even though the players available to him didn’t suit this style of play. One of the most interesting developments will be whether he has learned from this, and how Scott Parker can play in a midfield that is expected to maintain high pressure, whilst focusing on vertical passes.
And everybody saw at Euro 2012, Parker doesn’t like vertical passes.
Another player who may find himself out of favour at White Hart Lane is Rafael Van Der Vaart, positioned by Redknapp behind Emmanuel Adebayor and with a midfield that made sure his running was minimal. His fitness looked suspect last season, and it’s unclear where he would fit in the 4-3-3 formation preferred by the new manager.
The signing of Gylfi Sigurðsson will please Villas-Boas: a player comfortable on the ball who likes to press high up the pitch will certainly fit into the coach’s plans and will be a big part of the Tottenham team next season.
After Levy didn’t back Redknapp in the January transfer market, the Spurs squad is incredibly thin, and although Sigurðsson has joined more additions will be needed. Villas-Boas will need to have a big say in who comes in if his philosophy is going to work.
Chelsea’s transfer dealings are by and large decided by the board, meaning he was left with a lot of square pegs to fit in round holes. How we would have liked a player like Eden Hazard in his squad.
What Spurs have is a manager who is eager to achieve success, to prove his doubters wrong; a manager who waivered the chance to continue to earn his £11million pay-out just so he could get back into football.
The one thing Villas-Boas needs most, however, is time. His Chelsea “project” barely passed the embryonic stage, and who knows where the club could have been had they continued under his guidance?
Having just sacked a manager who took the club from the relegation zone and into the top four, it doesn’t seem like time will be on Villas-Boas’ side, and only time will tell whether Levy has made the right decision.
Villas-Boas’ Chelsea career is quoted as “right man at the wrong time,” but he could easily be the right man at the right time for Tottenham.