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AVB orders Spurs to re-find form

Andre Villas-Boas has told Spurs they must "get their act together" if they are to qualify for the Champions League.

Last Updated: 28/03/13 at 18:16 Post Comment   

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has told his players they must "get their act together" if they are to qualify for the Champions League.

Defeats against Liverpool and Fulham mean the seven-point lead Tottenham once held over Arsenal has started to evaporate.

A Tottenham defeat at Swansea, and an Arsenal victory against Reading this weekend will see Arsene Wenger's men cut the gap to one point having played one match less.

Tottenham fans who spent much of the drab 1-0 home defeat to Fulham biting their nails are aware, of course, that their team has been in this position before.

Last year they threw away a 10-point lead over their bitter north London rivals and, although Villas-Boas is convinced his team are made from stronger stuff this year, he knows they must start winning soon.

"We have to get our act together for the rest of the fixtures to achieve our objective," said the Spurs boss, who saw his team battered 4-1 by Inter Milan in between their two domestic defeats.

"We have done excellent enough to bridge the gap before, but now with two league defeats our opponents are closer to us and we have to recognise this change."

Villas-Boas admitted he has his work cut out if he is to achieve the target of Champions League qualification handed to him by Daniel Levy when he replaced Harry Redknapp last summer.

The Portuguese estimates his team will require 70-72 points to finish inside the top four, meaning Spurs will only be able to afford to lose two matches in a tough run-in which includes fixtures against Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Swansea.

Only three times in the history of the Premier League have teams who have made it in to the top four finished with 72 points or more.

Yet, despite losing stars like Rafael van der Vaart, Ledley King and Luka Modric last summer, there is no doubt in Villas-Boas' mind about his team's chances of holding on to that fourth spot.

"No. Not at all," came the blunt response when Villas-Boas was asked whether his team's belief had taken a knock in the last month.

He fired a similar rebuttal when he was challenged about the confidence of his squad given their collapse last season.

"It has happened before but it doesn't mean it will happen again," the 35-year-old said.

"The circumstances, the players, the leader, training...they are all different so at this moment it has nothing to do with past experiences.

"We have eight games. The situation shifts for any team in the Premier League who does not get results.

"My message to the fans is that we are in our objectives. The lead (over Arsenal) is less than before but we have that margin because we were excellent doing our job so that doesn't mean we can't be excellent again. That is why we believe in the players and the job that they are doing.

"We are also in the Europa League quarter-finals so these are all positive aspects for us."

Villas-Boas has been boosted by the news that 21-goal forward Gareth Bale has been passed fit for Saturday's trip to Swansea, despite suffering with illness while on international duty.

Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon, who had to pull out of England's double-header against San Marino and Montenegro, are also fit.

"Bale is fine," Villas-Boas said.

"I think for us club coaches we are happier when the players return with no injuries. We have been lucky because of the changes in habits and training, and the travelling."


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