It was confirmed yesterday that Andre Villas-Boas has become the new manager of Tottenham Hostpur, signing a three year deal with the club. But can he be a success for them? Can he take what Harry Redknapp has done and build on it so that they progress as a club?
First off, I don’t think anyone can doubt his quality as a coach. He’s never played professional football, he’s only 34-years-old, yet he’s won an undefeated treble and had the Chelsea job, one of the biggest in England. To do this at 34, without playing professionally, so not having that advantage of having that reputation or status is remarkable. Also, if you’ve seen the scout report he did for Chelsea vs Newcastle a few years ago, which was great and very in-depth, you’d understand just how good his footballing brain is. Some people will say he isn’t a good manager and point to his time at Chelsea, but that isn’t fair. All good managers can have a bad time somewhere, for whatever reasons; look at Clough at Leeds or Hodgson at Liverpool. Luiz Felipe Scolari wasn’t particularly successful at Chelsea either, so by that logic, the World Cup winning manager isn’t a good manager.
At Chelsea, it was an issue of respect of respect which held AV-B back. Much has been made of the player power at Chelsea, with the players having a big influence on what happens at the club, which could have been a factor in why AV-B didn’t succeed there. If the players didn’t respect him, either because he had never played, because didn’t buy into his methods or because of personality clashes, they’re not going to try as hard as they would for someone they liked and they wouldn’t go that extra mile. If you compare his time at the club with that of Di Matteo, the differences are huge. The same group of players that were losing record numbers of games for Villas-Boas went on to be crowned Champions of Europe as well as win the FA Cup. As a club icon and successful player, Di Matteo gained respect.
Now, as Villas-Boas starts a new chapter in his managerial career at Spurs, he needs to do a couple of things to be successful.
First of all, he needs to keep their key players, the likes of Modric and van Der Vaart, who were essential to Spurs’ top four finish last season. However, if these don’t stay, as some big teams offering Champions League football want them, then he has to make sure that he can get good replacements. If the top players leave and he can’t bring in suitable replacements, he will already be fighting as losing battle, with the fans as much as any opponent on the pitch. I believe he can convince a couple of players to stay, with Gareth Bale already pledging his future to the club, and also he can attract the right kind of players. As Newcastle have proven, you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to bring in top class players. Demba Ba joined them on a free and scored 16 goals, Yohan Cabaye cost £4.3m, Papiss Cissé cost £8m and scored 13, whilst Hatem Ben Arfa cost £7m. When you consider Chelsea spent £50m on Fernando Torres who scored 6 goals last season, it shows that with the right scouting, AV-B can spend wiseley with any money recouped from big name sales.
Next, I think the players have to respect him and buy into his methods. At Spurs, they definitely have the players capable of playing his way, especially if they sign Jan Vertonghen, who’s more than capable of playing it from the back. We’ve seen what Andre’s done with Academica and Porto, so there’s no reason why he can’t do something similar with Spurs. The majority of their squad is a decent age, so can still develop and get better. If they play how he wants them to play, they could definitely get at least Champions League qualification and with a young squad and a young manager, they’re always going to learn, adapt, and become better.
Finally, they’ll need patience. I don’t think you hire a 34-year-old unless you’re thinking about the future, but the fans and the board need patience. It may take a year or two for him to lay down his foundations and for the players to finally play his way, or for him to get a couple of his own players in who add that something they need, or just, generally, for everything to click into place. They need to think about sustainability, stability and the longer-term future, not what they do or win in the next year or two. I understand as a fan this can be frustrating, but if you give him time to do what he wants, and then I’m sure you’ll reap the benefits in the future.
AVB can be a success for Spurs because he has the right footballing belief, knows the game inside out, tactically he’s brilliant and he has age on his side, as well as European experience. I really feel he could transform Spurs, if the above conditions are met.
I think everyone should respect him for what he’s done so far, I hope he carries it on and does well at Spurs.