As Tottenham succumbed to their third Premier League defeat in four games I had to ask myself:
“Why am I in IKEA instead of watching Spurs’ best laid plans unravel at the Etihad?”
The truth is that reality sometimes calls, life or moving house takes precedence over everything, even football.
Reality usually turns up when you least expect it and more often than not is a little sound (in some cases though it can be pure silence) accompanied by a girlfriend/partner/wife putting their hands on their hips and staring.
If you’ve heard that sound or seen that posture then generally you know what I am talking about, if not don’t worry it’s on its way.
As I drove back round the North Circular on Sunday evening laden with flat packs, I wondered if that sound had come to visit Andres Villas Boas.
Has AVB been given his dose of reality?
The Portuguese manager has been a favourite of mine since his FC Porto team dazzled in the Europa League. Spearheaded by Radamel Falcao and guided by Freddy Guarin in centre mid, my Colombian buddies repeatedly told me to: “Keep an eye on this team and manager!”
Therefore when AVB took the Chelsea job, I was disappointed, but highly curious to see how it panned out. As we are reminded every minute, it was Christian Gross-esque.
When Harry Redknapp’s reign of capitulations and self proclamations came to end and AVB waltzed in to Tottenham all dapper and saying the right things, I rejoiced. Here was a hungry talanted young manager, who had made mistakes, admitted them (as far as a manager does) and hopefully learnt from them.
This morning as Spurs lay behind the West Brom, Everton and even West Ham my rejoicing has taken a serious knock, but I still have faith, not an unlimited amount but enough to keep me going.
Tottenham’s season so far has been defined by their 3-2 win away at Manchester United. This memorable and incredible result was meant to signal the start of AVB’s reign, but instead it has taken on a completely different complexion. In an ocean of mediocre performances, our 45 minutes at Old Trafford is a rubber ring we are all desperately trying to cling on to.
These three points earned after a masterful first half has so far overshadowed the fact that Man United are the only non-relegation threatened team Spurs have beaten this season.
Villas Boas has collected away wins at Southampton, Reading, Man United, but lost away to Newcastle and now Man City. At home meanwhile we have only beaten QPR and Villa. Chelsea, Wigan, Norwich and West Brom have all collected points at White Hart Lane. Spurs have lost points from winning positions four times already this season.For a manager who wants to challenege for titles, this figure can’t make for easy reading.
Meanwhile the competition which thrust AVB into our consciousness, the Europa League, has also failed to offer him some much needed rest bite. One win and three draws is hardly the form of team ready to mix it with the dropouts from the Champions League after the winter break.
Reality has come, stamped its foot, poked AVB in the eye and set up residence at Casa Villas Boas.
I refuse to run around screaming that the end of the world is here because of a set of results, but if AVB thought the pressure was on in August, then he is about to get a surprise.
Time is the most precious of substances for managers and continued failure will only make it slip away faster.
Tottenham are set to face, after another meaningless international friendly. Arsenal away and Lazio away, followed by the home visit of West Ham, defeat in any of these games would be unacceptable. That’s the cold hearted truth.
Arsenal are no longer the swash buckling team of the early 2000’s, and as Reading and Fulham have demonstrated in spells, they are very beatable.
Lazio meanwhile are a long way from the free spending semi-galaticos of the Sven Goran Eriksson team that summed up the pay-now-think-later 90’s directors in Serie A. Whilst a home fixture against a newly promoted West Ham team, should setting aside all arrogance, be a home banker.
How many points Villas Boas can get out of the next 6 Premier League and 3 Europa League points on offer will unfortunately decide his fate. This is the curse of the results (financial as well as PL) at all costs based modern day football.
Rather like the first time you pass wind in front of your girlfriend, the honeymoon is over; we are now knee deep in a relationship.