It never seemed appropriate to write off Tottenham so early in the season. Yes, there were obvious flaws to certain areas on the pitch and in the club’s transfer activity. But was all the premature hysteria just further evidence of an agenda many have against Tottenham’s new manager?
Liverpool have been subjected to similar criticism this season, written off with little hope of securing a promising position in the league come May. They seem to be enjoying it, and I really don’t need to highlight who “they” are. But even with good starts at other clubs around the Premier League, surely everyone knows that a club like West Brom is not going to secure a higher position than Tottenham. Why then is there such little reference and acceptance to how young the league season is at this stage?
I made the point recently that the title race only starts to become relevant around Christmas. Adding to that, how long will it take the rest of the league table to take realistic shape? Andre Villas-Boas certainly didn’t get the players he targeted in the transfer market, but he’s a football manager and evidently one with plenty of knowledge of the game.
How foolish was it to write off a manager whose job it is to steer the ship and make something positive with what he has? And that’s not even to suggest that the Portuguese manager is working with very little. He’s picked up an excellent and versatile defender, one of the most highly praised midfielders in the league—although that description could be applicable to either Moussa Dembele or Gylfi Sigurdsson—and a forward who scored well over 20 goals in all competitions last season. It’s the manager’s job to find ways around the obvious problems he’s faced this early in his Tottenham career. It’s also the job of the media to take a little more care with how they approach circumstances such as this.
Spurs are sitting in fifth place ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, two points ahead of the much praised Arsenal and off the back of a surprise and impressive win at Old Trafford. For all the good that Arsenal have done recently, when last did Arsene Wenger’s side go to Old Trafford and take three points, and in such a manner? When was the last time Spurs returned to London with a win in the bag following a trip to Manchester United?
Will there be ever-lasting praise for Villas-Boas and that win? Talk of it certainly won’t outlast the heavy criticism he’s faced and continues to hear each week. The Hugo Lloris gossip won’t go away, but how else should the manager deal with the situation? He’s wrong if he benches Brad Friedel and he’s wrong if he benches the France captain over the steady hands of the veteran. But it’s needless gossip that somehow found a way to entrench itself on the front pages.
Are Tottenham playing bad football? It’s hard to say because plenty see Barcelona and Spain’s methods on the pitch as boring or even negative. But Spurs are doing well and are only feeling the effects due to a new manager and the adjustment to his system, as well as late activity in the window. Those first few games were essentially their preseason, but was that ever flagged up in the continuing criticism of the manager?
The media’s best mate is now gone and out of a job, where will they get those diamond quotes that sell stories? AVB doesn’t fancy all that business, and fair play to him. He’s a manager who’s trying to take the club forward and repay the trust sent through from Daniel Levy. The loss of Luka Modric gave plenty of fuel to the assumption that Spurs would fail this season; where would they go without direction from the midfield and without a win in their first few games of the season? Were there genuinely people who could say Tottenham would never win a league game all season? It’s not so much a laughable stance to have but it’s a childish one and further points to the media desperately trying to stick anything on Villas-Boas.
Would those be the same who suggested Arsenal would finish mid-table last season? The Gunners’ start was horrific last year, but surely their finish should be enough to warrant a little more time in the final verdict on how Spurs would do this season.