Updated: May 10
This could be a problem. The chant of “Andre Villas-Boas’s blue ‘n’ white army” doesn’t trip off the tongue, especially if you really do pronounce the s’s Sean Connery style. Otherwise, confirmation of the news that had seemed increasingly inevitable has left as mildly optimistic a feeling as any Spurs fan can ever expect to have. A new manager who is progressive, who likes to play football that is good to watch, and who has achieved under pressure is in place in good time to start the new campaign properly. Now let’s hope Spurs do their transfer business early.
The main problem Villas-Boas faces is the legacy of his time at Chelsea, combined with the enmity of a press still smarting from the dismissal of their old mate Harry Redknapp. Give it a couple of bad results and you can predict the articles already as the sports corps’ finest brains rush to stick the boot in. It’s true the current Spurs board have done themselves few favours with the way they’ve treated the two most recently successful managers in the club’s history, and there are plenty of egos still smarting from AVB’s time at Chelsea with the ear of the press to fuel problems. But there’s a lot that makes sense about the appointment.
It’s worth reading a very good piece by @marcbraterman on the Added Minutes blog – incidentally now added to this blog’s recommended sports reads – which takes the novel approach of actually examining AVB’s playing style and looking at how this fitted with various sets of players. So much more informative than the personality-based stuff so prevalent in much of the national press.
That piece suggests the high defensive line favoured by AVB will suit Spurs’ defenders better, and also throws up the prospect of another lease of life for Jermaine Defoe, who is the kind of mobile striker AVB’s approach favours. It’s likely, though, that another striker has been targeted whatever the future holds for Defoe, and there are encouraging noises about the arrival of Gylfi Sigurdsson (another challenge for the fans chorus) and – in defence – Jan Vertonghen. I’d like to see a replacement for Brad Freidel – who surely does not have another season in him and looked a little leaden towards the end of the last campaign, and some back-up for Scott Parker, who looks knackered. Although if Sandro continues to impress and Tom Huddlestone returns, we could be covered in that position. Whoever has been targeted, surely the board has learned it’s better to pay a bit extra to close the deal early, rather than wait for the end of the transfer window and count the cost of a lost 9 points at the end of the season.
While no doubt there will be much discussion of AVB’s ability to get on with his players – and it was telling how Sky today were replaying Jamie Redknapp’s talking up of the feud between his Chelsea mates and AVB after the Napoli game – it’s highly unlikely that the Spurs board and AVB didn’t spend significant time discussing man management. And, while I’m not thrilled at the rumoured return of the director of interfering in football role, both sides would have to be astonishingly stupid not to have discussed how this was going to work and whether they were happy with it.
I’m quietly optimistic, and certainly looking forward to the new season – although happy for it not to start for a few weeks yet. Spurs won’t be allowed to set a foot wrong before the press hyenas are all over them, and no doubt some fans will be quick to rush to the phone ins and social media as soon as there’s a falter in the club’s step. But, as always, now the choice is made the new regime has to be given time. I have a feeling the club has made a pretty good choice. I’m sure you’ll remind me of that if it all goes wrong.