With the opportunity to redeem himself for what we all saw during his somewhat appalling tenure at London rivals Chelsea, new Spurs boss Andre Villas Boas has some rather large shoes to fill. Many Tottenham fans were sad to see Harry Redknapp leave, but were bracing themselves for his departure with rumours of him taking the then-open vacancy as England manager.
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As we all know Roy Hodgson took the job which left ‘Arry stuck between a rock and a hard place. With a disappointing finish to a rather impressive season that saw Spurs lose out on a Champions League spot despite finishing fourth, Harry knew that his post season meeting with chairman Daniel Levy was going to be anything but a walk in the park. The two failed to agree on terms and after almost four years of service, Harry was gone.
Three weeks later after much speculation as to who would be given the Spurs job, 34-year-old Andre Villas Boas was yesterday entrusted to take over at White Hart Lane and continue the fine run of form that the North London club has seen in recent years. But it will not be as easy as walking into their training ground at Spurs Lodge and simply taking up where Redknapp left off. AVB has a reputation to rebuild, a reputation that was forged by winning the 2010/11 Primeira Liga with Porto in which they finished unbeaten and also won the Europa League. He is the youngest ever manager to win a European competition and holds the record at Porto for the most matches unbeaten. So how could he go wrong?
Despite these impressive statistics, Villas Boas didn’t turn up at Stamford Bridge with the right mentality. His young age and authoritarian attitude did not go down well with the experienced players at Chelsea and his attempt to be seen as someone to fear soon became detrimental in the dressing room, leading to a lot of ill feeling between players and manager. With Harry Redknapp on board, there was a great sense of warmth between himself and his team. We all remember David Bentley throwing an ice cold bucket of water over the Londoner after their fourth place finish in the 09/10 season. If Villas Boas is to avoid the tensions he experienced at Chelsea, he may have to lighten up a bit.
That also goes for the way in which he speaks to the media. Redknapp was always keen to speak to journalists and interviewers alike and would be a pleasure to work with. However, that is not the same for AVB. On various occasions, journalists were met with quiet and nervy responses from the Portuguese and he would do well to take a leaf out of Redknapp’s book and start enjoying his necessary relationship with the media.
Now to the future; having joined on the back of Gareth Bale’s new four year deal to stay at the Lane, he can rest assured that at least one half of his stellar performers is staying put. On the other hand, he will have to endure one of the transfer sagas of the summer with the imminent departure of the creative Croatian, Luka Modric. Believed to have received offers of around £30m for the midfielder, Tottenham will want to make sure he doesn’t go for cheap. With interest from fiscal giants Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, they will be hoping to spark a bidding war that may increase their returns even further from the £16.5m they paid back in 2008.
Today’s confirmation of the signing of Icelandic attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson will also bode well for Villas Boas’ relationship with the fans. The ex-Reading and Hoffenheim player scored 7 goals in 19 games during his short loan spell at Swansea during the second half of last season and will go down as a success for Villas Boas’ first signing at Spurs. Other interests for Tottenham this summer include Joao Moutinho who played under the new Spurs boss at Porto and Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen who they will need to replace Luka Modric and Ledley King respectively. King is yet to be offered a new contract at White Hart Lane, pending tests to prove his ability to perform at the highest level in English football.
So all is not over should Modric leave, let’s just hope that AVB can do a better J-O-B than he did at CFC.
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