Andre Villas-Boas is under extreme pressure at the moment. After getting eviscerated by Manchester City 6-0 at the weekend at the Etihad, Tottenham hierarchies are left in doubt whether he at all remains the right person to steer the club to top four?
People talked about Liverpool’s season as a season of rebuilding and consolidation. Yet, they easily forgot about Spurs. Mind, this was a side that didn’t qualify for the Champions League despite finishing in fourth and had a new manager with new set-up – so, it was a new beginning for them as well. But, instead of using it as an excuse, as with case of many clubs, Villas-Boas took it as a journey. The start was stuttering, new players took time to settle in but in the end they enjoyed a great campaign, narrowly missing the fourth spot to North London rivals Arsenal.
There were fears that star player Gareth Bale might leave the club in the summer but a faith in the Portuguese was somehow restored. There was a belief that he is the right man to take Spurs to stairway to glory, given proper backings.
Spurs lost Bale to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee. However, they bolstered the squad with few top players as well, replenishing all the necessary areas they probably could.
It was far from being a perfect transfer window, but when you spend nearly £100m on new players, expectations are bound to be high. With so many new players arriving, getting used to the system and condition takes bit of time – the problem is time is something which modern day football doesn’t allow you to enjoy.
The problems are many – Spurs aren’t scoring too many goals, nor are they creating too many chances. They have fared poorly against big oppositions in the league – accumulating just 1 point against Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City. They have suffered odd defeats at home like losing out to West Ham, which left resentment among the fans.
Further, Villas-Boas has failed to make a proper transition since the departure of Bale. The cohesiveness in the squad is missing – existing players have dropped down the pecking order which has led to gripes. But most importantly, his major big money signings mainly Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado haven’t performed to the required level of expectations.
On top it Villas-Boas has used a different route to protect his back. Usually we see, managers protect their own players, staff, fans etc and blame the external influences like referee but in this case, the Portuguese has caused consternation by blaming his helping hands.
For instance, take the case of Hugo Lloris controversy. The goalkeeper had suffered a head injury in the 0-0 draw at Everton on 3 November and played on. Spurs’ medical team said that Lloris was unfit to play the following week’s home defeat to Newcastle United. But, Villas-Boas went against their decision, justifying it that it was their decision rather than his, and saying that Lloris had been “clinically and medically” ready to play.
As a result of that, Villas-Boas was left isolated and at odds with the doctors at the club. Likewise, his decision to vent frustrations on the Spurs fans hasn’t been greeted well. After their 1-0 victory over Hull City, Villas-Boas chose to blame the fans saying they had created a “very tense, difficult atmosphere”.
Manchester City defeat
But, this chain reaction had its worse effect against Manchester City, where they were humiliated 6-0 by the Citizens. Not only they look toothless but it seemed like they had no answer how to prevent the host. David Hytner of the Guardian says “comments after the City defeat were badly received in the dressing room and it reinforced the impression that Villas-Boas might be happy to talk up the collective when results are good but he will revert to blaming others in times of adversity.”
Villas-Boas needs time. He has made few mistakes but everybody does. May be he should keep things more behind the closed doors, than openly blaming others in public. This is a closely contested title race and Spurs are only eight points behind the leaders, so there’s hardly anything to panic at the moment. But, he needs to address the current damaging momentum and win few matches to bolster the confidence among everyone.