Yesterday saw the Portuguese tactician relieved of his duties as Tottenham manager by mutual consent, this has led to divided opinion on whether he should have been consigned to the scrapheap or that his dismissal was premature and he needed to be given more time to fashion the team in his image.
The controversial chairman and co-founder of ENIC, Daniel Levy, believed that the style of football would not improve and that Andre Villas-Boas’ project would never succeed however others would argue the contrary. Since 2007/8 Spurs have had four managers which could bely the fact that Levy is trigger happy, while AVB has the highest win percentage ratio of any Spurs manager in Premier League history (53%). Despite shock losses to Newcastle (0-1), West Ham (0-3), Manchester City (6-0) and Liverpool (0-5) the Lilywhites still sit in seventh, three points off the Champions League places and are still in all competitions.
Those with the disposition that the former Porto and Chelsea boss shouldn’t have been axed will also hasten to mention the defensive injuries which have plagued us, especially in the game against Liverpool, in which three of the back four who played that night nowhere near the starting eleven. Other potential excuses include; the need for foreign players to settle, the youth of the squad, a new system being implemented, et cetera et cetera.
Conversely, there have been some abysmal results and performances this season, losing at home to average sides was hard to swallow however being comprehensively thrashed by their top four rivals in a quasi-six pointer was unacceptable. AVB has also been criticised heavily by Spurs fans for the negative brand of football that the team have played this season. Seemingly devoid of flair and inventiveness, the possession based game intends to stifle the oppositions play and has often not come off for the North London side as they had more possession in their 6-0 drubbing from Manchester City.
The tactics are poor as inverted wingers failed, the high line has been terrible especially when the cumbersome Dawson and second choice defenders are playing, they do not press and allow other teams too much time and the ball as well as dwelling on possession too much and inviting pressure. Most confusingly of all, the manager did not adapt the tactics to the personnel on the field or the opponents. For example the inverted winger tactic did not work with Lennon and made Townsend too predictable (to the ire of the N17 faithful- he cuts in and shoots every time). There haven’t been any convincing performances by them in the Premier League that would make someone say, “They’re a contender”.
The win percentage which many individuals pro the “Ginger Ninja” quoted when he was fired was heavily added to by pointless Europa League matches and “get out of Jail Free Cards” from a certain Welshman. The team which AVB has crafted grind out results like no other Lilywhites side before them; however this style is not the aesthetic, exciting, sexy football which embodies the club. The situation and atmosphere is now arguably worse than the much maligned venture with George Graham at the helm; we want our football club back. This limited success means nothing if the fans are not entertained and the dearth of both tactical nous and exhilaration was masked last year by the superlative and eclectic Gareth Bale.
In conclusion, Tottenham Hotspur is about beautiful football, spectacles of tortured genius and excitement. This message is instilled in the soul of the club and I think summarised best by Danny Blanchflower. “Football is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom”. The usually fervent atmosphere at White Hart Lane has also suffered despite the ardent fans best efforts with the crowd utilising “Let’s pretend we scored a goal” as the loudest chant of the day in a particularly dire Hull game.
His leaving provides another dramatic turn in the Tottenham Hotspur rollercoaster, which shows however much you try to change Spurs they will always be controversial, exciting and absolute agony to be a fan of.