Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas, took the unusual step of criticising the home support after Spurs’ difficult win over Hull City at White Hart Lane yesterday.As Tottenham moved into fourth place in the Premier League, it wasn’t all smiles at White Hart Lane at the final whistle. Tottenham had endured another difficult afternoon against a well-organsed team who were very disciplined and allowed Spurs to dominate possession and then looked to threaten them in swift counter-attacks and from set-pieces. Steve Bruce’s plans with a side hit by injury were working a treat until the 80th minute when referee Michael Oliver awarded a controversial penalty for hand-ball. The win by a solitary goal was Spurs’ fourth of the season by that margin and their second at home with a Soldado penalty separating the teams.
Andre Villas-Boas commented in his interview with the BBC web-site on the lack of support from home supporters yesterday, claiming that it made them feel like the away team.
We looked like the away team. We played in a difficult atmosphere with almost no support.
The Head Coach acknowledged the fantastic fan-base that the team has but was concerned about a negative atmosphere within White Hart Lane and a sense of anxiety coming from the stands. As always there was a near full capacity 36,080 crowd within the stadium but AVB felt that the lack of atmosphere was evident early in the game and made it more difficult for the players. It was something that was mentioned at half-time.
We spoke about it at half-time. I told the players that we would have to do it on our own. They had to dig deep and look for the strength within themselves. They also believed that it’s not easy to play in this stadium when the atmosphere is like this.
AVB praised the support the team receives in away games and called on supporters to create a similar atmosphere inside White Hart Lane as he felt that the players didn’t have the support they deserved against Hull.
Away from home their support has been amazing; we play with no fear and we need that atmosphere at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham supporters are known to be highly critical of the team and players when games are not going their way. They show their anxiety early on which transmits itself to the players with every missed pass noted and both supporters and players would have been mindful of the result of the last home game against West Ham. Spurs have struggled in recent years to break down well-organised defences with Hull’s last two visits to White Hart Lane providing the perfect example – they achieved their only success at the ground in 2008, winning won 1 – 0 and the following season earned a scoreless draw when goalkeeper Boaz Myhill had an outstanding game. From a supporter’s point of view it looked as if there was going to be a repeat of those matches once again to add to the list of disappointments in games Spurs were expected to win comfortably – Wigan, Stoke and Wolves immediately springing to mind from recent seasons past.
Criticising home fans is a risky strategy and when Harry Redknapp made similar comments, they were not well received by Tottenham supporters. He famously called supporters who contact radio phone-in shows “idiots”. He was defensive when referring to fans and used the term “they” which caused further annoyance.
Yeah, cos they were always qualifying for the Champions League before I got here weren’t they?’
Last season in AVB’s first two home games when results didn’t go as fans had expected the new manager had to endure boos from the stands. He overcame this early set-back and I’m sure fans will not hold yesterday’s comments against AVB but take them in the spirit they were meant as an indication of the importance the fans’ support is to the team and the need to get behind the players and create a positive atmosphere in every game and not just the ‘big’ matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
AVB had a bit of a sulk on and has criticised the fans for being negative in his post match interview. Oh dear. He’s going to get some stick for that. There’s no avoiding the fact that our results have been great but our performances haven’t. Our lot have always been the type to sit back and say “right, now do something to impress us”. Never were the Liverpool type, singing to the high heavens whatever. They certainly won’t take kindly to the manager running them down so soon after the departure of swashbuckling Harry. If he is not careful, they will start asking how come spending £100 million gets us a team that is only good at keeping clean sheets. Dozing off whilst we watch the points pile up is not our idea of entertainment, not at £71 a ticket.
What’s your view of AVB’s criticism of the home support?