Right now we have no manager, the touted press conference today where Andre Villas Boas sets out his game plan is yet to happen, we just have been told by ‘In The Knows’, with varying degrees of credibility that he is the man to take the over the reigns at White Hart Lane. This appeared to be gospel that at 10am this morning he was meant to have had his press conference announcing his tenure at the club… maybe I missed that!
But let’s suppose that everyone has it right and we decide to take on the young Portuguese manager, AVB could be accused of having the ‘damaged goods’ tag. Had he been coming straight from Porto we’d be talking about taking on young, raw and highly successful managerial talent. However, the Chelsea experience has been a chastening time for the Mourinho protégé, I can sympathise with him being given the almost impossible job of clearing out the old squad and starting afresh, but tellingly and fatally he fell out with the squad last time around. Much as I have no love the team with the 8 year history, we need to look at it pragmatically to see if he can be a success at Spurs.
I have some concerns about AVB’s people skills, I can see a manager falling out with players like Drogba, Terry and Cole as they are players likely to have a bit of ego about them, but the Lampard fallout did seem odd, you can say what you like about Fat Frank but he hasn’t had issues with any of the many ex-Chelsea managers or anyone at West Ham. I don’t buy the argument that the Chelsea squad were just a bunch of prima donas with a cabal that essentially ran the first team affairs, as much as I’d like to believe that.
There were also reports (the Daily Mail and Guardian) in December of last season where AVB had allegedly given instruction to the squad to celebrate goals with him. Now some might say this is a fallacy made up by someone who does not like him, I think, at the very least, someone in the squad was briefing against him. If that story was true it shows that he felt that he was not part of the squad there and that he needed the chairman and fans to see he was loved, perhaps his ego needed to be massaged. He also may have also been seen as a ‘Mourinho Lite’ specifically within Chelsea; having scouted for them between 2004-2007 perhaps the players never really perceived him as anything more than a man with a clipboard. It’s fair to say he failed to garner the respect of the squad and they had not bought in to his vision.
Even if we say that AVB did not win over his squad something was flawed in his vision, the defensive line did not look right, the high line seemed to leave them exposed at key points in their season. The 3-5 loss at home to Woolwich was particularly shambolic and losing to a fairly lightweight Liverpool side at home had exposed the same weaknesses in Chelsea’s defensive set up. To temper the criticism some credit would have to go to him for getting a home win over Man City and winning 3-0 at Newcastle.
Some might also point out that Abramovic is infamously quick to get rid of his managers when things don’t go to plan and the AVB sacking was a reaction to losing away to a very strong Napoli side in the Champions League. The story of Carlo Ancelotti getting sacked in a tunnel at Goodison Park shows how ruthlessly Abramovic reacts to failure. Think of the speed in which he wrote off the £11m odd pounds release clause from Porto to secure AVB’s precocious talent and paid around another £10 million (allegedly) to offload him to unemployment.
The mantra that I’ve seen from spectators, reporters and fans alike seemed that he tried to change too much too soon, all a bit strange when he was aiming to implement a 5 year plan. And perhaps we should beware the 5 year plan also, because if the short term isn’t looking great, patience only goes so far and I don’t believe that Daniel Levy is a great deal more tolerant than the Russian Billionaire down the road.
AVB will have had to convince our board here that he has genuinely learnt the lessons of the past. He needs to identify where he failed, what he can bring to Tottenham and why the mistakes that happened with Chelsea won’t happen here. He can make some genuine claims about his credentials, his win ratio at Porto was 88% with just 2 losses from 52 games, some might say that was because he inherited a very strong squad but he still created a hell of a record there.
If AVB is to take the Manager role he still has everything to prove, that he can take his Porto model and make it work again, the question is can he bring us success?
[author name=”78Spur” tag=”78Spur[/linequote]