These criticisms of Andre Villas-Boas don’t add up
Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp’s thinly-veiled but extremely obvious attack on his successor at the club Andre Villas-Boas couldn’t be further from the truth as he continues to use his army of friends in the media to spin his own version of events in an attempt to re-write history so that he suits himself.
In what must represent quite possibly the most sycophantic interview ever published by a national newspaper, Redknapp’s criticism of Villas-Boas in the Daily Mail exclusive really does beggar belief. During a 29-year career to date in management, Redknapp has won the FA Cup and Division One title with Portsmouth and the Football League Trophy and Division Three title with Bournemouth.
It’s hardly the most impressive CV knocking around, particularly when you bear in mind that the 34-year-old Villas-Boas has already won the Europa League, Primeira Liga title, the Taca de Portugal (national cup competition) and the Portuguese Super Cup. You could argue that in a fraction of the time that Redknapp has had, that he’s already tasted the sort of success on the European stage that his predecessor could only dream of.
Here’s what Redknapp had to say in the bizarre interview, which clearly pointed to Villas-Boas: “These days you’re getting 70-page dossiers on this and that. Bulls**t can baffle brains at times. There are people who try to make the game sound complicated for their own good. They are such geniuses, some of these boys. But it’s a simple game really. You don’t need PowerPoint.”
It’s not hard to try and see what he’s doing here, attacking a manager who is well-known for the meticulous way in which he prepares his teams and it’s a deliberate nod to the fact that he used to prepare dossiers on the opposition as a scout for Jose Mourinho while at Chelsea.
The case he’s putting across is that football is a simple game at its core, which I suppose it is, but to deny the necessary advancements being made by forward-thinking managers such as Villas-Boas just makes him come off as an out-of-touch dinosaur. He then goes on to cite a thirty-year-old story involving former Liverpool manager Joe Fagan as proof that he’s just as relevant now as he ever was. It’s truly baffling stuff and the sort of misty-eyed guff that some impressionable journalists appear to eat up.
However, the strange behaviour didn’t end there, oh no: “Go back a few years and Tottenham weren’t getting within 30 points of Arsenal. Now there’s nothing between the teams. In fact, I think Tottenham have a better squad than Arsenal. I’m sure they will do well again this season.”
We appear to have a consistent theme, completely dismissing the achievements of others to try and paint a picture that he is a supremely talented and superior manager. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that Tottenham finished just two points behind rivals Arsenal back in 2005-6 under Martin Jol, courtesy of a debilitating bout of food poisoning throughout the entire squad as they went into their final league game of the season against West Ham. Also, the season afterwards Tottenham finished just eight points off Arsenal and finished in fifth place in the league, with the Dutch coach again the man at the helm.
This obviously doesn’t fit in with Redknapp’s strange take on events that he saved the club and the ‘you’ve never had it so good’ schtick that he often liked to trot out while at White Hart Lane, which really is a fallacy that seemingly only he believes. I’m just surprised that he didn’t mention the two points from eight games line again. As you might expect, the fact that they threw an 11-point lead over Arsenal away last season, which meant they finished one point and a place behind them in the final standings was suspicious only by its absence.
He also went on to intimate in a less than tactful way that the only reason Roy Hodgson got the England job over him was because of the sizeable compensation package that the FA would have needed to pay Tottenham for his release, thought to be in the region of £10m. Nevertheless, there was time for at least one more zinger in terms of an interesting way of looking at things.
“Coaching is one thing, management is another. Fergie’s a manager. Arsene Wenger is a manager. There are managers and coaches and I actually think I’m in between. I love coaching. I’m not blowing my own trumpet but I haven’t seen many coaches who are better than me. At the end of the day the game is about good players, though. It’s about getting the best out of them. Putting them in the right positions. Understanding the game. It’s about moving Luka Modric from the left wing to central midfield. It’s about understanding the game and I understand the game.”
Setting aside the fact that it was Redknapp who initially said that Modric was unable to play in the middle of the park upon arriving in England, or the fact that he still used him on the left of midfield in a couple of huge games last season to the detriment of the overall shape and balance of the side, it’s the ‘not many better coaches’ line that’s truly staggering.
We all know that Villas-Boas enjoyed a less than fruitful six-month spell in charge of Chelsea, but that is not the be all and end all, nor is it necessarily indicative of how the rest of his career will turn out and it appears little more than an opportunistic attack on a manager who has oddly been seen by some as being under pressure just four league games into his tenure.
Redknapp has a funny way of re-writing history to suit himself and at best, the above quotes are misleading and at their worst, downright vindictive. Whether it be Martin Jol, Roy Hodgson or his successor at Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas, it appears as if the 65-year-old unemployed manager will step over anyone to put his version of events across and the criticisms simply don’t stake up.
Despite his protestations to the contrary, he’s clearly still very bitter about the way in which he was sacked at the end of last season by chairman Daniel Levy and he appears to be attempting to crank up the pressure on his successor instead, which shows a distinct lack of class on his part, not to mention being a truly baffling line of attack.
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