Andre Villas-Boas: Why All The Hate?
Is Andre Villas-Boas doing a good job at Tottenham? Since arriving at White Hart Lane, AVB has attracted his share of critics. Today on the blog Amit Singh from Think Football dissects AVB's performance so far in season 2012/2013 outlining his challenges and successes.
Despite a good start to the season the papers seem intent on gunning for Andre Villas-Boas. After every defeat or below par performance we are led to believe that there is a 'crisis' at Spurs, yet when they play consistently they get little credit. This can be well contrasted with Arsenal. At the start of the season Arsenal drew two games in a row and had only won two games, but, having drawn away at City they were tipped as title challengers.
At the same time Spurs were 'in crisis' despite having the same number of points. The debate is framed in a way that portrays AVB as a flawed coach and Spurs as a 'crisis club' almost for no clear reason. If Spurs are in crisis, then surely Arsenal are in a bigger one. Both sides are level on points, but the media attention has focused predominantly on Spurs woes. TalkSportDrive went as far as to say that Redknapp would guide QPR to a higher league finish than Spurs, absurd.
AVB's Record at Spurs
AVB has done a much better job than he has been given credit for. As stated people were speaking about Arsenal as potential title challengers when AVB's men had won the same amount of games. AVB has also been dealt a rather bad hand at Spurs, not only with injuries; missing Kaboul (Spurs best defender), Parker and now Dembele (arguably three of their best players), but he also had to contend with losing two of the side's most influential players in Modric and van Der Vaart in the summer.
This was compounded by the fact that AVB was unable to bring in another creative midfielder as the club could not and would not meet Moutinho's wage demands. With this in mind AVB was undertaking somewhat of a transition at Spurs, tasked with changing their style altogether. Whilst also having to deal with having a completely unfit Adebayor for the first part of the season.
AVB's signings, on the whole, have been excellent. Particularly the signing of Vertonghen and Dembele. The two Belgians have looked fantastic so far this season. Dembele is absolutely pivotal for Spurs, at the heart of everything good that comes out of the midfield. In AVB's system he plays at the base of the midfield, looking to win the ball back quickly and start counter attacks. Spurs used to counter attack through Modric but now do it through Dembele with him winning the ball and moving it on. It is no coincidence that his injury has coincided with Spurs' dip in form, having won just one game out of the five he has missed.
Vertonghen has also been excellent. Typically he'd start as a centre-back but with BAE out injured AVB has had to reshuffle the pack. In fact, we have not seen anything close to Spurs best defence this season, which would probably be Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen and BAE. So far we have seen a makeshift backline due to the severe injuries and light squad AVB has at his disposal. This full strength back line will theoretically see Spurs tighten up at the back and become harder to beat. BAE being fit at left back would also help Bale, as he is more able than Vertonghen to support on the overlap due to being more of a natural aggressive left back.
AVB is in some ways the polar opposite to Harry Redknapp. Redknapp was at ease with the media, a real man manager, but was to an extent a poor tactician. AVB on the other hand is constantly in the firing line from the media and not the best man-manager, whilst he is a meticulous tactician. AVB has turned Spurs into a slightly different outlet. Last season Spurs were more of a 4-4-1-1, with Van der Vaart playing in the hole behind Adebayor, or even 4-4-2, with Defoe and Ade up top.
This season it is much more of a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Even when Ade and Defoe played together against Arsenal Ade played deeper in a 4-2-3-1. Spurs tactical style has evolved, but has been hindered by a huge injury crisis, that is often overlooked. Dembele has thankfully returned, with Parker also due back. We might see Parker and Sandro sitting with Dembele just in front as the way forward for a fully fit Spurs side.
AVB would probably have hoped for a better start to life at Spurs, but in truth he has done a very good job in diifficult circumstances. As noted he lost his two main creative players in Modric and VDV and has had to rebuild his squad. All teams suffer injury problems but Spurs have had particularly difficult issues this season. Their 3-1 victory over West Ham was a good one, considering West Ham have enjoyed a good start to the season. This marks the end of a bad run in the league, which when taken in context isn't that bad; during Spurs bad run they faced Chelsea, City and Arsenal, hardly easy wins.
Spurs are definitely still in for a chance at finishing 4th, in what looks certain to be one of the most enthralling battles for fourth place in the Premier League era.
The odds: Best price available for a Spurs top 4 finish are 4.00 at Bet365 and Stan James and odds of 2.50 at Paddy Power for Spurs to be the highest placed non-Big Four club. Is there some value with the AVB led Spurs?
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