With Andre-Villas-Boas’ Tottenham team having lost four of their last five Premier League games, some would say that that I’m stating the obvious with the remark that he can’t win at Spurs. He’s having difficulties at the moment on the field but he’s experiencing problems off the pitch as well. For some supporters and those in the media, no matter what he says or does is wrong.
‘Condemned if he does, condemned if he doesn’t’
Three incidences from Saturday’s defeat against Arsenal again highlighted how difficult it has been for Villas-Boas during his short time at Tottenham as the media and certain section of the supporters look to find fault in his every move.
Since Lloris signed for Spurs there have been constant calls for his inclusion in the team from supporters, media and across the Channel. Villas-Boas, however, decided to stand by Brad Friedel who had done nothing to deserve being left out of the team. It was frustrating for Lloris who had been expecting to step into the Premier League team but instead was restricted to the Europa League and Cup matches. On Saturday, the manager decided to select Lloris for the derby with Arsenal. In some quarters of the media this decision was greeted with amazement – it was as if the manager had decided to give an eighteen year old goalkeeper from the Academy his debut at the Emirates. Villas-Boas was selecting an experienced goalkeeper. Lloris is 25 years of age, has made over 200 appearances in the French League and has played in 42 games for France as well as being the captain of his country. He has played in the Champions League and was the star of France’s recent match against Spain. Playing for Spurs in the north London derby was well within his capabilities so the media anguish was unnecessary.
There has been criticism of Villas-Boas since the beginning of September that he wasn’t playing Lloris and then when he does decide to select him, it is still a problem in the eyes of some.
Villas-Boas decided to alter the team formation to enable him to play two strikers with Adebayor and Jermain Defoe as strike partners. For seventeen minutes, it was going to plan Adebayor had put Spurs ahead and Arsenal’s defence was looking troubled. Then Adebayor made a reckless challenge in trying to gain possession in midfield. His foot was high as he stretched for the bouncing ball and caught Cazorla on the ankle. It was a foul which the Arsenal midfielder made the most off with numerous rolls and Howard had no option but to sent Adebayor off. The loss of Adebayor changed the course of the game as Spurs went from a position of seeming strength to a situation where they knew they were going to be under great pressure to get anything from the game.
In his post match interviews, Villas-Boas refused to blame Adebayor for the defeat, rather focusing on the effort the other players had put in under difficult circumstances. If Villas-Boas had stormed in and laid the blame for the defeat on Adebayor’s shoulders, the press would have been full of stories about his lack of man management for publicly criticising the player. Instead, he accepted the defeat and the sending off and looked for positives in a difficult situation. Adebayor knew what he had done and apologised for his mistake which had cost the team dearly.
On the Spurs website, Adebayor admitted that he had let the team down and was very disappointed.
“I’m sad, I’m disappointed. I scored my first goal of the season and I was so happy, but then it was a 50-50 ball, I went for it and the referee decided to give me a red card. It was difficult to let the team down like that. We had to play 70 minutes without me, with 10 players, and especially at Arsenal you know how difficult the game will be.”
In his press interviews after the game, Villas-Boas tried to be positive in the face of defeat which had come about in difficult circumstances – a lengthy injury list and then having to play with ten men for so much of the match. The sending off and Arsenal’s two goals just before half-time determined the result of the game but the players showed a lot of heart in the second half and did cause Arsenal some concerns. With the extra man, Arsenal always had the advantage but Villas-Boas’ tactical decision to switch to three defenders at the back created the opportunity for Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon to play to their strengths. The manager showed his appreciation of the effort of the players by going on to the pitch at the final whistle to acknowledge the effort each one of them had put into the game.
The manager did rather overstate the case but he again has been criticised for the positive stance he took when facing the press interrogation even though there were positives to take from the game but that doesn’t make for good headlines in the media.
Andre Villas-Boas has presented himself in a gentlemanly manner during his time with Spurs. He has conducted himself with great distinction in difficult circumstances and hasn’t courted the media or controversy but has displayed a passion for the club even in his short association with Tottenham. His goal celebrations on the touch line have been like those of the supporters and he has displayed an affinity with the fans. Unfortunately, for some, no matter what Andre Villas-Boas does, it is wrong.
Will you be placing a bet on the next Spurs game or do you think you would be better off playing a few games of online poker at Ladbrokes. At least that way the outcome is down to you and not in the hands of Andre Villas Boas.