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.
[authquote text=”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.
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.
[authquote text=”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.
[author name=”Ian W” avatar=”https://twimg0-a.akamaihd.net/profile_images/3064644937/eb7303206723f35f64abd8f481cbe9d4_bigger.jpeg” twitter=”TheMindOfIan” website=”” tag=”TheMindofIan”]