Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is already under a degree of pressure, just three games into the new Premier League season, but the club’s chairman Daniel Levy needs the former Chelsea manager’s long-term vision, as they continue to recover from the short-term approach of predecessor Harry Redknapp.
The media, by and large, do not like Villas-Boas very much, which increases this sort of fictional pressure from outside; he doesn’t win friends easily, he has a cold demeanour and he doesn’t indulge journalists with quote after usable quote like Redknapp used to.
The fact that during transfer deadline day, I heard the Sky Sports News journalist by the name of Gary actually mutter the words “we’ve had none of when Harry was manager, driving in, winding down his window and telling us who would be leaving and who might be coming in. We miss him” says it all really. This self-serving attitude pollutes the media when objectively judging managers.
There’s also the club’s new style of play which the Portuguese manager is trying to implement which will take time to gel. Villas-Boas wants his side to press much higher up the pitch and win the ball back early, while under Redknapp, it was simply a team-sheet with the players names on it and they were told to go out and play.
A poor start to the season has already seen many ex-pros trying to play amateur psychologists, claiming that the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon are already ‘not playing for their new manager’ and that they ‘don’t like all the tactical work’. Former players now who say things like this are often the sort of players themselves that didn’t like tactical work, you see, they don’t understand it all that well, so they believe that they are speaking on behalf of every professional footballer, which whenever this happens, they end up only speaking for themselves.
The deadline day scramble and the way that the club missed out on Joao Moutinho as Luka Modric’s replacement will have also hurt Villas-Boas’ plans and the fault lays squarely at the door of Daniel Levy, and the club appear to have strangely prioritised securing the signature of Hugo Lloris instead.
Out went Rafael van der Vaart on deadline day too, as he returned to Hamburg, confirming his status as a luxury player, and he simply didn’t fit the side’s new style, seemingly either far too unfit, lazy or both to fit into it, even if he still has a wand of a left foot.
Emmanuel Adebayor, the focal point of their attack last term to the tune of 17 goals and 12 assists, is still in the process of getting match fit after dragging his heels during negotiations and the team have been forced to field their only senior striker, Jermaine Defoe – a player that doesn’t suit playing as a long front-man and is far too easily pushed off the ball.
At the back, Ledley King has retired, Younes Kaboul has been ruled out for three months with injury and Jan Vertonghen is new to the league, while just in front of them, Scott Parker has been ruled out through injury so far and he was a mainstay in the side Right through the spine of the side there has been change, some forced upon Villas-Boas, others he’s made as he looks to tinker with the side and stamp his own authority on their style, making them more disciplined in the process.
As manager of Chelsea, Villas-Boas was accused of trying to change too much, too fast, but that was the remit which he was brought in under, so it’s hardly his fault that the goalposts were moved midway through the campaign. During his short tenure at White Hart Lane so far, the pace of change has been equally as dramatic, but it was certainly needed as they fell away terribly last season, finishing fourth in a three-horse race, but the same criticism has lazily been levelled at him.
Every manager always pleads time upon taking over a new club, but Redknapp only ran it last season knowing that he wanted the England job in the future; he was biding his time, waiting for an approach from the FA over the England job and their January business shows both him and Levy knew that.
Now the team has a young, forward-thinking manager willing to implement a vision for the future and stick around for quite a few years. His doubters has an agenda and those fans which booed them off the pitch against Norwich should be embarrassed of themselves.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and the fans need to be patient, despite the cringe-worthy overkill of the word ‘project’ by many. Levy came up short on deadline day, not Villas-Boas and he needs to back his manager both on and off the pitch now and make sure that they present a united front despite the obvious early teething problems.
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