After a rollercoaster season at White Hart Lane, it is time to start analysing the hiccups along the way.
Gareth Bale’s stunning performances defined last season and without him, Tottenham potentially would not have finished with their highest points tally in the Premier League. Therefore the work of Andre Villas-Boas was hypothetically not an integral part to their success.
The beginning of Spurs’ season would support this claim, with the eventual downfall of the Portuguese manager happening on the 16th December 2013 – highlighting that perhaps the Premier League just isn’t right for AVB.
Was there another Premier League manager that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy could have approached?
With AVB secured as manager in 2012 (the same year as Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool), Roberto Martinez was still in his final year at Wigan Athletic, desperately plugging away in the bid to avoid relegation to the Championship, whilst at the same time, playing some stylish and classy football.
Tottenham’s appointment of Villas-Boas signified that the north Londoners were on the prowl for a youthful approach to management and the selection of the former Porto manager should have been carried with caution when considering his negative stint at London rivals, Chelsea.
Roberto Martinez always stated that it was his intention to keep Wigan in the top division, however after four years of the same tireless quest, would it have been best suited for his career to move to a club challenging at the higher level of the league with money to spend? Martinez was most likely the youthful reformist that Spurs were looking for.
Eventually, the Spaniard left Wigan after failing to avoid the drop. He managed to secure a move to replace David Moyes as the manager of Everton and career-wise, Everton was an intelligent move.
However, had Martinez have left a year previously, he would have ended his spell with the Latics as having successfully manoeuvred them to safety. Tottenham should have moved for Martinez instead of AVB, with the club’s tradition and heritage matching perfectly with the former’s footballing philosophy.
Tactically, Roberto Martinez and Tottenham would be an ideal fit. Martinez often adopts a 4-2-3-1 shape that relies on strong tacklers which, with Tottenham, would suit the likes of Sandro, Nabil Bentaleb, Etienne Capoue and Paulinho – with each player able to hold the midfield well and place a strong challenge should it be necessary – as was shown by Bentaleb’s show-stopping performance against Newcastle in Spurs’ 4-0 win last week.
The former Wigan boss also enjoys a team with skilful passers in the attacking third as is often exhibited by Steven Pienaar, Ross Barkley and Bryan Oviedo at Everton.
Should Martinez have been installed rather than AVB, Spurs could have potentially seen their former Dutch magician Rafael van der Vaart pulling the strings in the final third, if he had chosen to remain at White Hart Lane. With the existing squad, Martinez could see the likes of Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Lewis Holtby implementing their skilful passing into this structure.
Yet another trait that Martinez holds is his tactical flexibility, something Tottenham players were all too used to under AVB. At Wigan, Roberto successfully operated a 3-5-2 formation at times and with multiple players at the north London club able to rotate (such as Vertonghen and Capoue) Martinez would have a wealth of options at his disposal.
Had Martinez taken over in 2012, the outcome of the season wouldn’t have panned out too differently to how it did under AVB. Spurs were fairly busy in the summer of 2012 securing acquisitions such as Jan Vertonghen, Emmanuel Adebayor (permanently) and Hugo Lloris.
With Daniel Levy personally dipping into Tottenham’s transfer strategy, it’s possible to suggest that Spurs would have secured these players with any manager in charge, therefore whether it was AVB or Martinez wouldn’t have mattered; the squad for 2012/13 would have remained the same.
However, the season of last could be contributed to Gareth Bale’s constant player of the year performances and the ability of AVB is therefore debatable considering that the Welsh wizard was evidently the reason for their record points tally in the league. With Martinez in charge, Spurs could have gone on to even greater things, with a manager eager to prove himself in a position he could feasibly hold for many years.
Had Spurs appointed Martinez, we could be looking at a very different Tottenham side with a manager of equal ambition to match the forever attractive philosophy of playing ‘the Spurs way’.