AVB Was Lost In Translation...

Regardless of who signed the Beatles, there has been no evidence to suggest that AVB could get them to sing. Except in the irrelevant Europa League...

Last Updated: 16/12/13 at 13:39 Post Comment

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Although we have staunchly defended Andre Villas-Boas this season after his words were twisted in the press, it is impossible to deny the reasons for his exit, and nor would we wish to claim he should have been given more time.

Perhaps he might have turned things around eventually - and we must remember that Tottenham are only five points from fourth - but the Spurs board cannot rely on maybes after investing £110m in the summer. Regardless of who signed the Beatles, there has been no evidence to suggest that Villas-Boas could get them to sing as Spurs failed to muster a single shot on target against a Liverpool side missing two of its three most important players.

The ghost of Harry Redknapp haunted Villas-Boas throughout his brief reign at White Hart Lane and, despite leading Tottenham to their record points total in the Premier League last season, there are lessons he could have learned from his predecessor. Both failed to hold their nerve as the race for the top four went to the wire in 2012 and 2013 and, ultimately, neither managed to find the middle ground required to achieve Daniel Levy's lofty ambitions.

We have often derided Redknapp for what appears to be a rudimentary approach to management, but his manner with the players and confidence in their ability (other than Darren Bent, of course) allowed them to express themselves on the pitch. It was for this reason that I argued he should be appointed England manager at the start of last year. Villas-Boas, on the other hand, has struggled with the more human side of the game, which has been evident in Spurs' listless performances.

The team has been devoid of personality this year and, coupled with the absence of fight in the defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, it rendered an impossible situation in which the only solution was for Villas-Boas to be sacked. It doesn't matter how many nights a manager sleeps at the training ground if he cannot get his players to believe in his methods. Christian Eriksen's vague quotes about Villas-Boas's intentions in November hinted that the Portuguese was not getting his message across.

It's clear that much has been lost in translation. At Porto, Villas-Boas' success in the Europa League was rightly seen as a brilliant achievement, but progression in the competition matters little to Spurs. While Redknapp took a pragmatic approach to the fight for fourth place by resting his top players in Europe, his successor has tried to juggle both, refusing to claim either as a priority last season.

However, the consequence of Spurs' run to the Europa League quarter-finals was that they struggled to maintain their momentum in the league - the bread and butter that Villas-Boas repeatedly refused to acknowledge. While he pointed to a 'negative spiral' at Arsenal, that fate has instead been inflicted upon Spurs.

"Our run is magnificent in other competitions," said a defiant Villas-Boas on Sunday. He is a fighter, of that there is no doubt, but it is different to possessing the charisma that is required to lift players from a slump. And when his strengths began to fail - the attention to detail, the ability to fix faults - the outcome was inevitable.

Matthew Stanger

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