The jokes may not end for quite some time, and the only escape from the memory of a seemingly hellish first eight months in English football would be to win a major trophy. For Andre Villas-Boas, being an also ran simply won’t do. The echoes of “we told you he wasn’t good enough” would reverberate around White Hart Lane and the pressure to dismiss the former Chelsea manager would increase. At least that’s the way these things are seen from the English perspective.
There’s no doubt that Villas-Boas has had his reputation tarnished in England. But for good reason? Now Tottenham are the sad group of hopefuls picking up the pieces and praying for something that isn’t there. It’s a disappointing state to be in where a young, promising manager can so easily be cast aside. Yes his short time at Chelsea was a mistake—but a mistake from himself to join the club. Perhaps naively he thought he could make a positive impact at a club whose owner is notoriously short of patience.
In the long run and where greater perspective is necessary, there is little holding Villas-Boas back from being a successful manager.
You’ve got to applaud Daniel Levy for deciding to swim against the tide and place faith in the Portuguese manager. It’s hardly a gamble, at least no more so than any other managerial appointment at any other club. Instead, the Tottenham chairman has correctly turned his back on the dark cloud that hangs over his new manager; a cloud that is more in place due to the reaction of fans and the media, rather than his own shortcomings.
The football perspective in England has for too long been arrogant and, to a certain extent, obnoxious. There is a short-sighted view of the world outside of English football from a large majority and, apparently, England is the benchmark of football royalty. If you fail here, then that stamp will never wash away.
There’s no such view in other parts of Europe. Villas Boas, for example, is still highly regarded among the Spanish and considered a future candidate for one of the top jobs in La Liga. There is a greater sense of perspective and patience, rather than the mindless accusations towards a manager who was never really given a chance.
Maybe Liverpool, a representative of English football, should give back the trophies Rafa Benitez helped them win. Benitez’s career was not helped by his move to Inter, although he was dealing with a post-Mourinho club—scorched earth and all that. But the attitude and lack of respect directed at the Spaniard is simply nonsensical and, again, arrogant. His successes in England and Spain are not medals of failure and incompetence. Benitez is far from a poor manager. So what if he tried to introduce an unpopular system of defending? Surely he would have been praised if it did work out. Instead, his achievements and successes are forgotten and his desire to be a little forward thinking are mocked. And much like Villas-Boas, he has been cast aside because he couldn’t live up to the great expectations of the mighty Premier League.
It’s a fair argument to say that both men have made mistakes in their managerial career, and yes there are a number of Liverpool fans who would not welcome Benitez back at Anfield. But those mistakes hardly hold water against the bigger picture.
Platforms such as Twitter have made it increasingly likely for great waves to wash over those who fail in English football, whether it’s fuelled by journalists or fans. It’s also extremely easy to jump on the bandwagon and play a role in the witch hunt. But like our football, it’s rushed, uneasy on the eye and, at times, embarrassing.
What many fail to weigh up in their final decision to cast someone aside is that the Premier League is the most competitive in the world. Success doesn’t come quick and easy, and yet most define a manager or player’s talent and ability based on an extremely short spell and their own desire for instant success.
Villas-Boas will never amount to a good manager in the eyes of some. Yet those same eyes view a couple of good games by Andy Carroll as a worthy statement of his talent and ability to contribute. Again, rushed statements and, at times, embarrassing.