Andre Villas-Boas’ Optimism Contrasts With Tottenham Fans’ Pessimism


After Tottenham’s Europa League draw against Basel Andre Villas-Boas gave a very optimistic view of Spurs’ prospects in the second leg and the absence of Gareth Bale due to injury. Spurs supporters leaving White Hart Lane on Thursday evening, however,very  were subdued and in a more pessimistic frame of mind.

Optimistic view from Andre Villas-Boas [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]The Tottenham manager gave a very optimistic press briefing immediately after his team’s 2 – 2 draw with Basel  at White Hart Lane. They had battled back from two goals down to enter next week’s 2nd leg all-square but that commitment was about the only positive to be taken from a tie which when the draw had been made had appeared, according to the press, to have given Spurs the best possible opportunity to progress to the semi-finals of the competition. With that thought, it made not only the result a disappointment but also the team’s display against the Swiss champions and it only became worse with the injury to Gareth Bale which had seen him carried off in the final minutes.

Match Summary

At no time did Tottenham dominate or have control of the match against Basel. For the opening thirty minutes, it was quite even but Basel has shown that they could be dangerous with their quick attacks from midfield. The first warning had come as early as the tenth minute when following a poor clearance from the usually reliable Jan Vertonghen, Basel picked up the ball in midfield and made a forceful run towards the Tottenham area. This gave them a momentum from led to Brad Friedel having to make two saves in quick succession and Basel also put a good opportunity over the bar. After half an hour another surge from Basel caused confusion in the Spurs defence and having hit the post Stocker scored from the rebound. Three minutes late poor defensive marking at a corner presented Frei with a header as Basel doubled their lead.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored against Basel [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]To Tottenham’s credit they scored before half-time through Emmanuel Adebayor and should have been level but Scott Parker missed an open goal when his shot took a deflection off the foot of Lewis Holtby. After the interval, Basel continued to carry the greater goal threat but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s shot brought Spurs level with over thirty minutes to play. Tottenham, however, never looked like taking a hold on the game, it was always Basel who posed the greater threat causing panic in the Tottenham defence with their pacy attacks on numerous occasions. Spurs defended as poorly as they had done in Milan in the second leg of the tie against Inter.

Tottenham’s evening ended on an even more downbeat note when Gareth Bale was stretchered off in considerable pain and discomfort with what has turned out to be an ankle injury.

Manager’s Optimism

Every manager has to present a positive face to the press and the watching supporters and Andre Villas-Boas certainly did that. His comments in his post-match press interview were quoted on He played down the seriousness of Bale’s injury saying,

"“”He rolled on his ankle and, at the moment, there is a lot of pain, but hopefully it is not as bad as it could have been. We still need to get assessment that we can only have on Friday.”"

The club reported yesterday that the results of the scan and assessment have indicated that Bale has sprained ankle ligaments and is expected to return to training within two weeks. A similar assessment has been provided for Aaron Lennon and William Gallas.

Taking his comments further he played down the impact Bale’s absence would have on the team’s chances.

"“There is a big, big possibility that, if we stay positive, he will be fit for the Man City game (on 21 April) and it will only take him out of two games. We’ve played without Bale before and we’ve got the results that we needed, results that have put us in the position we are in the league. We recognise the form the player is in and the squad will step up a level for his absence. Key players are always missed by any team but we have played without him before.”"

Supporters’ Pessimism

The injury to Bale was of great concern to supporters as they left the ground after the match, fearing the worst, that Bale would miss the rest of the season. Their worries were based on the look of concern shown by the medical staff as they treated Bale on the pitch and the obvious pain and discomfort being experienced by the player. Before being interviewed AVB had obviously spoken to the Tottenham medical staff enabling him to give a more hopeful report to allay fans’ concerns. The club then issued their statement on Friday with the expectation that all three players who went off with injury against Basel, Bale, Lennon and Gallas, should be back within a couple of weeks. The only lingering concern in a fan’s mind is Spurs’ record of previously making similar hopeful statements but in reality two weeks has often turned in a period nearing two months. How long ago did we hear that Younes Kaboul was returning to fitness?

Can Clint Dempsey come to Spurs’ rescue with some goals? [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]The manager talked up the team’s chances without Bale, as every manager would do in a similar situation. He is correct that the team has won minus Bale, most recently against Swansea in December and Reading on New Year’s Day. Since those games Bale, however, has been the leading light in the team, the player everyone turns to in expectation of a piece of magic. Others players appear to have almost stepped back to leave him to it. Those players are now going to have to step up and take on the responsibility if Tottenham’s season isn’t going to go into freefall. Even with Bale against Basel, the team’s performance was poor. Bale had a quiet evening by his standards and the overall display was disjointed and extremely disappointing for such an important game. That was of concern to fans even before the injury took Bale out for the next number of matches.

Every supporter wants Tottenham to win but their outlook after the Basel match was generally pessimistic. At present things appear to be conspiring against Tottenham, a severely stretched squad, injuries to important players, a loss of form by the strikers, other teams around them finding some form and a difficult period of matches. As fellow HotspurHQ writer, Charlie Bee, wrote in his article yesterday, the players’ versatility will be vital to get Tottenham through the next few matches as they endeavour to cover for absent team mates. A win over Everton would greatly improve every fans’ outlook and turn some of that pessimism into optimism for the weeks ahead.

Over To You!

Where do you stand on Tottenham’s prospects for the remainder of the season – optimistic/pessimistic?