Spot the Difference

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Sitting pretty in 3rd in the Premier League, above all expectations, with the media and pundits purring over Gareth Bale’s recent performances, and beginning the New Year following a run of good results over Christmas.

2013 has started almost identically to 2012, yet despite the similarities, Andre Villas-Boas still struggles to gain the same support from some fans that Mr Redknapp, now of Shepherds Bush, enjoyed during his tenure. A relatively slow start to the season saw boos ring round the stadium at just the first home match of the season, a 1-1 draw to West Bromwich Albion. Likewise, the 1-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic saw the team booed off the pitch, AVB booed for bringing off the completely ineffectual Defoe, and the atmosphere in general being as flat as it has been for a very long time.

It is this level of thinking and willingness to accept, and then address, problems that should provide the optimism Spurs fans need going into 2013.

In fairness, AVB’s popularity does continue to grow, yet his support remains most vocal with the travelling Spurs support, rather than at home. Stand anywhere down the Park Lane Stand concourse at half-time when Spurs aren’t winning and you will still usually hear ‘Arry’s name being mentioned in the same sentence as “It’s not as good as when he was here.”

The expectations of a number of Spurs fans have changed, largely due – I suspect – to a solitary campaign in the Champions League. Okay, it should have been two had it not been for the sad inevitability of the Germans losing to the English on penalties, but it seems that some feel Spurs now have a right to be there, and anything else is not acceptable.

But given the particularly impressive Christmas and New Year period of games, is there really any reason not to share the same optimism that was felt this time last year?

AVB is clearly a manager who is always thinking. He is not one to rest on his laurels and genuinely seems to personally be enjoying his tenure so far at Spurs. He’s not a man for caring what the media think of him, unlike Redknapp, and is constantly looking to improve things. During his time at the club, Rafa van der Vaart said of Redknapp’s tactics, “There is a clipboard in our dressing room, but Harry doesn’t write anything on it. It’s not that we do nothing – but it’s close to that.” Compare that to the recent run of late goals Spurs were conceding, including two in injury to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Everton, and AVB responded with high intensity training at the end of sessions in order to keep players concentrating. “By increasing the complexity in terms of the exercises that you do, so the more concentrated you have to be, to do it you have to be very creative.” The manager was rewarded with three straight clean sheets to Swansea City, Stoke City and Aston Villa.

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It is this level of thinking and willingness to accept, and then address, problems that should provide the optimism Spurs fans need going into 2013.

2012 saw Tottenham slide from 3rd, and a 13-point advantage over their North London rivals, to finishing below them in 4th. Redknapp had no answer for the dramatic loss of form, and for the second season in succession, Tottenham’s performances from February to May did not live up to the earlier hype.

But given the particularly impressive Christmas and New Year period of games, is there really any reason not to share the same optimism that was felt this time last year?

In AVB, Spurs now have a manager who is unlikely to chase the likes of Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha in the January transfer window, won’t call the fans “idiots”, won’t be fluttering his eyelids towards the FA for the national job and will not see fifth place to be “as good as it gets” for Spurs.

He has rotated the squad to good effect, got the fans interested in the Europa League again (to a certain degree) by taking it seriously himself, and is really starting to get the very best out of his players at a key point of the season.

I’m not saying Spurs will finish 3rd, or even top 4 for that matter. But given the similarities in their current position compared to 12 months ago, yet the difference in opinion towards the manager, some Spurs fans would do well to remember that life wasn’t all that Rosie(47) for Spurs in the 2nd half of last season.

This time around, there is reason to be cheerful. AVB.

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5 Responses to Spot the Difference

  1. paulp 07/01/2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Redknapp was the right choice when we were sitting bottom with 2 points after 8 games. We had good players, but lacked confidence. He made those players realize their potential, and then the only thing stopping them from taking the next step, to challenge for the title, was Redknapp himself. He’s a motivator, but he’s not a tactician. He could get the best out of the players, but not the best out of the team, or squad. AVB is reaping the benefits of the quality of players Redknapp left behind him, but he’s taking the squad a step further. He had a bad start, losing Modric was a big blow, and Adebeyor’s protracted contract wrangle didn’t help, but he’s sorted it out now. I like his style. He’s determined, and it’s rubbing off on the players. I was unconvinced at first – players like Walker and Dempsey looked like they’d lost the plot – but they’re all coming good. The team is gelling, and the squad is looking stronger with the likes of Parker and BAE coming back from injury. We’re playing with pace and imagination, as we were with Redknapp, but we’re also looking multi-dimensional. Even when Bale is unavailable, we change formation and the ball still goes in the net. This is the impact AVB has made, and long may it continue.

  2. Douglas 08/01/2013 at 12:45 am #

    It’s still January. And if the best you can offer to contrast this year with last is ‘we may not finish 4th’, then how is that an improvement in our fortunes. It sounds like an apology in advance.

    People are such ingrates. Redknapp’s approach was different, it was less cerebral and more intuitive which makes his managerial qualities more difficult to quantify. Last seasons drop in form directly correlated with the sacking of Capello. Redknapp’s all but naked ambition was unerving everyone but the irritating England fans clamouring for his appointment. Yet you interpret the drop in form as a result of his tactical ineptitude. He ‘had no answer’ because his concentration was elsewhere and he wasn’t honest enough to admit this ruptured the ‘anything’s possible’(a quote from Redknapp when asked on MOTD as to our chances of winning the Prem when sitting in 3rd place) spirit he’d cultivated among the players. It is indicative of his profound influence that the players were affected so dramatically. To paint him as some clumsy chancer is a poor analysis. You paint those appreciative of him as wifully blind and too stubborn to submit to your contention that AVB is patently superior because he has a formula to apply – complete with lots of complicated graphs and diagrams and brainy type stuff. Yet I could point to the prematurity of many early AVB disciples who would deny that Redknapp had any effect at all at Spurs except when they could attribute our losses to him. Many even claimed that Redknapp was simply the the beneficiary of the residual impetus of Jol’s efforts and skills – how desperate to discredit and blind to evidence is that?

    AVB is doing well, but the atmosphere is as muted as the development is subtle. I like what he’s doing. But It’s too early to tell if we’re better off – unless you’re that determined to undermine the Redknapp years you’d prefer we ACTUALLY finished fifth every season under AVB.

    • IanW 08/01/2013 at 10:14 am #

      All fair points, and I would certainly not argue that Redknapp did a fantastic job during his time in charge, and gave us some of the best times we’ve experienced in recent history. The point of the article was to point out that there are a lot of similarities between where we are now and where we were a year ago, close to the time when it all went wrong, yet argue that we have plenty to look forward to under AVB.
      The atmosphere does remain flat at WHL, and I still think it’s because large sections of the crowd refuse to accept AVB because they don’t understand why Redknapp got sacked. Whatever anyone’s feelings towards Redknapp or AVB, my point in this article is that we all now need to get behind the team and the manager, and we have plenty of reason to be hopeful.
      And I wasn’t apologising in advance for not finishing 4th under AVB – just not jumping the gun!

  3. TMWNN 08/01/2013 at 7:34 am #

    I had my doubts about VB, but I’m elated that vile little gobshite is out of our club and looks like ending his career by taking a club down.

  4. Crísandro 08/01/2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Amazing the stuff that has been said of Harry and his time at Spurs. If the fall in form last season was a direct correlation to the sacking of Capello, then it doesn’t say much for Redknapp then. Plus, if last season’s awful second half of the season can be put down to the England job, then how do you explain the similar rubbish second half to the season the season before? Certainly was no talk of the England job then as far as I remember!

    Redknapp gets plaudits for pulling a team put together by Martin Jol, subsequently ruined by Juande Ramos, from relegation. Redknapp basically took us back to where Jol had guided us. The man is seen as some kind of “legend” by some for one season in the Champions League (a direct insult to the great men that had actually won things with Spurs!) but his management of the squad was appalling. I can tell you exactly why we failed in his last two seasons. One, he only ever played his favourites, which means that when they get knackered after January, we are screwed because he never rotated. Two, with the best squad assembled in our recent history, we had won absolutely nothing as none of the cup competitions were taken seriously, with even disrespect shown to the Carling Cup and Europa League.

    I have never subscribed to the fact that “oh, we at least finished 4th which means Champions League any other season”, nor did I plaster my Facebook or Twitter page with Bayern Munich badges for the final. It was all pretty academic. The season ended for me when we didn’t take the semi-final with Chelsea seriously and lost out on another route to a trophy. That coming after we had only taken something like 2 points from the 12 games from January meaning we lost out on the chase for the title when the gap between us and Manchester City was down to just 5 points. As far as I see it, Redknapp did ruin us as we could have done so much better with the team we have. Redknapp has never had any success as a manager other than one FA Cup in his 30 years at the helm of many clubs.

    My thought is that AVB is that he is a winner, as his CV shows. Judging him on his short stint at the poison chalice that is Chelsea is short-sighted, ignorant and unfair. I am glad AVB is at our club as he is what we actually need in order to get to where we once were. He was not my first choice when Harry was discarded, it was actually Capello, believe it or not. AVB was my 3rd choice. But since he has been with us, I have been impressed with his will to succeed and emphasis on winning trophies. All of which persuaded me to give him the same chance that I gave Harry. I would imagine in 3.5/4 years with us we would experience actual success on the pitch worth shouting about with AVB at the end. The stick and doubt that AVB has received from those within the fanbase has been absolutely unfair. I am glad that he is putting a fair few of those doubters at the Lane, and in the media, to shame with the rubbish that has been said about him and the squad. I am still waiting to be convinced that Spurs are in turmoil, by the way….

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