The media hatchet job on Andre Villas-Boas has become a joke, and on Saturday evening AVB added the perfect punch line. Given the way he celebrated it’s a shame a few choice members of the press weren’t stood a yard in front of him because they could do with an overhand right to the face. They have tried to ridicule our boss and used the Lloris situation to back him into a corner – and no one puts our baby in the corner!
I was indifferent to the new manager’s appointment when it was first announced. Even though Harry Redknapp’s reign did leave a little room for improvement, his successor was always set to start with high expectations. Redknapp had taken Spurs to two fourth place finishes after all. Could Tottenham go higher? Given the first half of last season the answer was not ‘yes they could have finished higher than fourth but they should have finished higher.’
Unlike when Redknapp replaced Ramos, the bar had been raised and none of the candidates had a perfect CV in terms of achievements or ability. Personally I fancied David Moyes to take over, but question marks arose about his ability to lead a team aiming for the top. With AVB the issue was his abrasive man-management style, connected to his ill-fated stint at Chelsea. But the Portuguese was appointed and I was fully prepared to give him time to mould the team into his image. Given Levy’s predisposition for arsing around in the transfer window AVB would need a little more time than most but Vertonghen and Sigurdsson were signed early, and the squad as a whole seemed more adept at adapting to AVB’s ideas. For his part the ex-Porto manager had loosened up a little, no doubt learning the lessons from his first job in England.
We all know how the media works, and if anyone was in doubt then the furore surrounding Fabio Capello’s resignation and who would replace him should have shown one and all that the papers in particular don’t care about what they know, it’s who they know that’s important. It benefited us when Redknapp was in the dugout, there can be no doubt about that. We were the best team to watch, playing attractive football, with good ol’ ‘Arry telling it like it is, gawd bless ‘im. Never seeing a microphone he didn’t want to talk into, he was the media’s darling.
One reason for my preference for Moyes over AVB was that the press liked the Scotsman and they felt he deserved a shot at the big time (or at least the bigger time). Sure they would get the knives out soon enough if results were not good, but with AVB he barely had time to sit down before the papers were trying to yank his chair from under him.
An opening day loss to a late penalty, then dropping two points very late on against West Brom, accompanied by the typical Tottenham transfer window shenanigans, gave the media fuel to put on the fire that they had created.
The poor performance and draw against Norwich allowed the press to claim the fans were in agreement with them, that AVB was a car crash waiting to happen and Levy was a fool for hiring him. In the signing of Hugo Lloris they could put a face to AVB’s crimes, and ironically it was at this point, just when the hacks had moved in to top gear, that the fans started to back AVB the man, never mind AVB the manager.
With good ol’ ‘Arry telling it like it is, gawd bless ‘im. Never seeing a microphone he didn’t want to talk into, he was the media’s darling.
To write him off before he even had a chance was typical of the English media you might say, but to then accuse him of upsetting the French No.1 because he did not put him in goal immediately was out of order, even before considering Friedel’s outstanding form in the Norwich game.
AVB was also saying all the right things. How would Redknapp have reacted to the booing at half time in the Norwich game? Here’s a quote from November 2010 after a 1-1 draw with Sunderland:
“What have they got to moan about? They’ve (the supporters) had it so good, you see. When you keep winning championships every year, you get upset when you don’t win.”
Compare this to AVB’s response:
“You have to accept their disappointment. It has not been the ideal start to the season, but it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working hard to get the wins that our fans want.
‘They have to understand that we are doing everything in our power to get that win. Obviously this is not the start we wanted and the start we deserve.”
Which one would you want to be manager of your club?
Having been criticised for his dealings with the press, AVB is attempting to be far more forthcoming than before. Gab Marcotti and Henry Winter have talked about how press conferences go on until the very last question has been answered, fully and in detail (another reason the tabloids hate him probably – their dinner is getting cold at home), and compared to Redknapp there is a lot more talk about the players, their efforts and performances, collectively as well. There is no sense that AVB has his favourites, and his selection seems to be based more on performance than under Redknapp. Friedel’s continued presence in goal is indicative of that, and it’s funny how one of Harry’s favourites, Jermain Defoe, who rarely got a run of games in the side no matter how he was performing, now seems to be the leading striker. Stranger still is that this little man can operate as a lone striker so effectively. It’s almost as if the team have been actively told not to punt balls in the air to him.
But I don’t want this to be a Redknapp assassination. It’s merely showing that Harry was not the second coming and yet the media looked over all his faults, while making up new ones for AVB.
Also, it is absolutely fantastic to see the passion of the man. Every time we score he celebrates like he’s just lost his virginity, killed Hitler and found a ‘50% off your next suit’ voucher in his wallet all at the same time. How can you not feel a connection with a man who seems to care as much about winning and losing as us fans do?
Yes, us fans are fickle and if results go down the loo the discontent will surface. But right now we have a manager who is building a relationship with the supporters and despite the media’s efforts we are falling for AVB. The more we are told he isn’t the man for us the more we love him and want him to be ours (in a platonic way, obviously).
I cannot think of anything better than a successful Tottenham Hotspur with Andre Villas-Boas at the helm. So sod the media and up the Spurs!!!
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