With the announcement of Andre Villas-Boas as the new Tottenham Hotspur manager, it brings to an end the long hunt to appoint Harry Redknapp’s successor. The veteran boss was relieved of his duties at White Hart Lane last month after almost four years at the club, leading them to consecutive top five finishes in his three full seasons in North London.
Villas-Boas has been the favourite for the managerial hot-seat since the day of Redknapp’s sacking. Fans have begun to warm to his inevitable appointment, regardless of his stint at Chelsea. An unbeaten season with FC Porto saw his stock rise very quickly and not so long after the 2010/11 Europa League, the Dragões got their fourth trophy that season, his name was being linked with Europe’s biggest teams.
In the end, it was the Blues who paid the required €15m to bring him to Stamford Bridge as Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement.
Hopes, understandably, were high around West London. This was the manager that had surpassed all of Jose Mourinho’s previous records with the Portuguese giants. As such, it was hardly surprising to see him dubbed ‘Mourinho MK: II’.
However, his fresh ideas weren’t welcomed by the senior players, most notably John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. The trio was unhappy with his methods despite being charged with the task of ousting the ‘old guard’ by owner Roman Abramovich.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before the inexperienced 34-year-old found himself out of work just nine months into his three-year deal.
Villas-Boas’ reputation wasn’t tarnished as a result of his ill-fated spell in London, with AS Roma, Liverpool and Sao Paulo all linked with the young tactician. However, it is now Spurs that have snared the highly rated manager after a lengthy pursuit of the number one contender, even if they were linked with David Moyes, Laurent Blanc and Roberto Martinez.
What Can Fans Expect From AVB?
After the sacking of Redknapp, Spurs were on the receiving end of a media backlash. Many were heavily critical of chairman Daniel Levy, in particular, with some comparing him to the Blackburn Rovers owners The Venkys. This appointment is absolutely pivotal to the Spurs supremo, who will be looking to prove that his decision to sack the former Portsmouth and Southampton boss was the right one.
First and foremost, Villas-Boas will need time at White Hart Lane. At Chelsea, he was expected to transform the fortunes on the pitch instantaneously, with the Champions League a minimum requirement for owner Abramovich. Furthermore, as mentioned, the Russian oligarch charged the young tactician with moving on the ‘old guard’ and ushering in a new era.
The players didn’t warm to him and as a result, forced him out of the club. However, at Spurs, Levy has made his ambition known for some time – Champions League football. Redknapp delivered in 2010 and had it not been for Chelsea’s penalty shoot-out win in Munich, would have done the same in 2012.
In the 34-year-old, Levy has the man to take the club forward, with the long-term sustainability being the priority for the chairman. However, it is absolutely vital that Villas-Boas is given the time and patience to make his mark at White Hart Lane. At Chelsea, he wasn’t given a chance to really implement his methods, with the senior players failing to warm to him.
At Spurs, however, he has a completely different set-up to work with. A younger squad which has been devoid of tactical sense in recent years will only bolster the club’s chances of securing a higher finish over the next two years. Secondly, unlike at Chelsea, Villas-Boas won’t have any real vocal opposition in the dressing room, apart from, perhaps, Rafael van der Vaart, who has been linked with a return to Hamburg.
The players available fit into his system, with Villas-Boas preferring a fluid 4-3-3 formation. The 34-year-old will likely be forced to make do without Luka Modric, who is expected to leave Spurs this summer. A deep-lying playmaker, one that fits into his midfield three, is vital before the new season. Joao Moutinho and Nuri Sahin, of Porto and Real Madrid, have been the two stand-out candidates as the Croatian’s replacement.
Two arrivals that are expected to be announced soon are Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson, from Ajax and Hoffenheim respectively. The duo will fit into Villas-Boas’ system effortlessly, with the latter being the goalscoring midfielder he prefers in the middle of the park, whilst the former the quick, continental centre-back that is able to instigate attacks from the back.
They are the first of a number of players that are believed to be arriving this summer, with Internacional duo Oscar and Leandro Damiao just two that have been linked with a move to North London. With a takeover also believed to be imminent, Villas-Boas is believed to possess a weighty war-chest to strengthen this summer.
Patience! Tottenham Hotspur
As previously mentioned, patience is what Villas-Boas needs to succeed at White Hart Lane. Chelsea failed to deliver this and as a result, was forced into a costly pay-out of the Portuguese manager. Changes won’t be instant with Spurs and even if the results don’t make the expectations of the fans, the 34-year-old will need the support of the board as well as the Spurs faithful.
The North London giants are, once again, going to go through a transitional period and results aren’t likely to be enough for a top four finish next season. However, sacking Villas-Boas, like the Blues did if he fails to meet the expectations, would be the wrong way to go about it. Sticking with the Portuguese tactician, regardless of performances on the pitch, is the way to move forward.
If Spurs are to achieve the long-term sustainability they desire, they need to persist with the new manager in the long-run. Judging from the response of fans and his appointment, they are ready to welcome Villas-Boas with open arms.