Tottenham shouldn’t really be in the top four going into December. It’s not that they don’t have a right to be there, but the 5-2 defeat at Arsenal and the rifles aimed towards Andre Villas-Boas suggested that there was plenty of work to do for this team to be back among the Champions League elite.
The manager didn’t have the players he needed and yet he’s finally found a way to bring some degree of balance to the team. It’s by no means the finished product, but everything we’ve seen since Tottenham fell in the North London Derby has been nothing but positive. How much more can come from Villas-Boas when the team are finally equipped with the players to carry out the Portuguese’s orders?
Level on points with the European champion following Chelsea’s impressive outlay during the summer, and wins already over Liverpool and Manchester United. It took some time to put together a good run of results, but that was always going to be the case. The three most recent results have arguably amounted to Villas-Boas’ finest two weeks at the club. Yes the win at United was outstanding as much as it was surprising, however with the league table beginning to take much more realistic shape, these wins have given the club the necessary boost and greater weight of confidence in the man in charge.
The striker even suggested that he is far from isolated in attack, with plenty around him to provide the necessary support. The team may be lacking a playmaker in the mould of Rafael van der Vaart or Luka Modric, but combined with Defoe’s excellent movement and predatory instincts, the other players in the team have had a seemingly easy time picking him out.
Should we be surprised that Hugo Lloris has started each of the last four league games? Not really. The manager is no fool, but there was always a slow transition needed from the past into the future. Brad Friedel, despite his performances for Tottenham, was always a stopgap, someone to hold the fort until reinforcements arrived. The signing of Lloris may not have been needed at this time, but the manager’s decision to cover his ears amid demands for the French international to be inserted into the starting XI has proven to be the right move.
It’s not as easy as saying this is it for Tottenham. If they remain as they are and hope that this is all that’s needed for another top four finish, they’re more than likely to fall away come May. The manager has found a way to bring results to a club that isn’t yet ideally suited to him in terms of playing personnel. He’s tried to force the issue and the results suffered. But the squad needed a preseason to come to terms with a new manager’s way of thinking—it just so happens that their preseason coincided with the start of the league campaign.
What Villas-Boas has shown so far is that he is good enough, even inside a storm of criticism. It’s Daniel Levy’s move now. The club can claim to have the money for big signings, and there is no bigger claim than reportedly entering negotiations for high-profile stars. And that’s what the manager needs now: there’s no time for a game of Russian roulette, and the cavalry cannot be postponed until the final few hours of January.
If Tottenham make their way through a congested Christmas period and emerge still in or around the top four, the chairman will have little option but to roll the dice and give his full backing to the new manager. There’s a lot to be impressed with at Tottenham based on the last few league fixtures. But there should be absolutely no doubt that more is yet to come from Villas-Boas if he’s given a strong squad full of the right players.