Andre Villas-Boas’ arrival as the new Tottenham manager has been greeted with a mixed reaction since his appointment was announced in early July. His record at Porto was impressive but having struggled to implement his philosophies at Chelsea amidst an interfering chairman and a tightly knit group of unreceptive players, many Spurs fans are worried AVB does not possess the right skills to succeed in North London.
Despite Daniel Levy putting his faith in the Portuguese tactician, the Spurs chairman has already authorised the signature of former Swansea star Gylfi Sigurdsson as he looks to restructure the club’s setup and facilitate sustainable transfer activity. While no one would deny the Icelandic midfielder is a talented footballer having impressed during a loan spell at the Liberty Stadium, it remains to be seen if he was actually on AVB’s wish list when taking over the White Hart Lane hot seat and having already experienced firsthand how detrimental an interfering hierarchy can be, will Villas-Boas be able to thrive under the impending influence of a Director of Football?
It will boil down to how well he can work under someone else’s influence. The plan at Tottenham is rather than trust a manager who has results as their main priority they instead employ someone else to oversee player recruitment with a remit of bringing in players whose sell on value will increase during their time with the club. It’s a sensible way of ensuring the club is sustainable and equally stops results driven managers from buying overpriced talent just to appease fans quickly when the future of the club is more important. Harry Redknapp’s dismissal was controversial but it was also reportedly connected to his poor record in the transfer market and while this may seem strange given the players he brought to the club, in actual fact he often targeted quick fix solutions instead of developing youth and as such was not seen as the right man to take the club forward. Redknapp’s work in rebuilding Spurs was admirable but now the club is challenging near the top of the table and they need a leader who can develop their project, not just bring them short term success.
The appointment of AVB may not have been what Spurs fans desired but he possesses the tactical ability to continue the club’s prominence with youthful attacking flair while being unproven in the Premier League and therefore willing to work under supervision. So far the club have not appointed a new Director of Football since Damien Comolli was sacked after Juande Ramos’ disappointing tenure but they remain keen on the principle and names such as Louis van Gaal and Txiki Begiristain have been linked with the club as their look to find an experienced character for the role. This person will ultimately scout around and encourage the club to sign the best talent but without the pressure of having to position them in the team. The responsibility of results and style of play is placed squarely on the manager’s shoulders and while this allows the Director of Football to maintain an unbiased approach when recommending players, it also removes some of the control AVB may have had on his side.
Of course the former Chelsea boss will select his first team without influence from above but he still has new recruits being chosen for him and considering the arrival of Sigurdsson, it would appear he must work with what he is given. Should he feel a certain player is required to make Tottenham a better side then he must not only go through the Chairman’s wallet but also have his targets analysed by what is effectively a middleman. What happens when, hypothetically, Spurs are struggling and Sigurdsson has failed to replace Modric with any great success? Does AVB get the boot because he’s failed to mould the side or does the man who oversaw the new arrival get punished?
It would appear there’s a problem of where to place the blame should things go wrong but unfortunately the manager is usually the expendable one. The vicious cycle provided means the Chairman doesn’t trust the manager to think about the club’s future so he hires someone else to oversee recruitment. The overseer brings in new talent for the manager but isn’t responsible should they fail to impress so the manager, who has been given these players by someone else, is fired for not uniting a group that he didn’t necessarily want or even need. Given the potential pitfalls of such a system, surely the responsibilities should lie with the man whose head will be on the chopping block?
Naturally Villas-Boas will have some input on player recruitment but ultimately his own success and that of the eventual Director of Football will come down their combined work as a partnership. Both must be working toward the same goal for while the manager cannot be trusted to look to the future because he’s too obsessed with results, similarly the Director cannot be trusted to prioritise on field achievements ahead of financial stability. They must find an effective middle ground for both to thrive otherwise AVB could well find himself becoming another scapegoat due to the unproductive influence of an authority whose failings go unpunished.
Do you think Tottenham need a Director of Football? Should AVB be given free reign over his transfer activity?
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