Often is the case a Premier League club will secure a big money summer signing from abroad, fuelling their club’s ambition and sending optimism throughout their fan base, only for the player to flop. Though every Premier League fan can argue this is an experience they know only too well, Tottenham Hotspur are far and away the club suffering right now – only this time, it’s not a player failing to settle; it’s their manager.
Indeed, Andre Villas-Boas is no stranger to English football. After gaining plaudits for guiding Porto to a European title in a season where the Portuguese outfit went unbeaten in his single year at the club, AVB entered the Premier League cauldron full of promise. When Chelsea announced his arrival at the club, fans were in celebration. Under a billionaire owner and a prolific manager with European experience, what could go wrong?
As it turns out, a lot. In his nine disastrous months at the helm, Chelsea experienced derby defeats against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool as well as a string of disappointing results against struggling clubs in the division, too.
Stamford Bridge, once a fortress, was nothing but a derelict ruin. Welcoming a club fighting relegation was no longer thought of as three easy points, but instead a must-win game for a club who, during AVB’s charge, were no longer a top-four outfit.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long until AVB’s day came. He was relieved of his managerial duties in March 2012 following a defeat to West Bromwich Albion. Having never experienced professional football as a player, he was forced to hang his boots up and walk out of a club for the first time in his life.
It wasn’t long however until he was back in charge in England – this time at manager-less Tottenham Hotspur. Following a successful season finishing in the top four, though ironically losing out to a Champions League spot after Chelsea’s heroics in Munich last season, the team went into the 2012/13 season full of promise.
They boasted a manager largely tipped for international supremacy if chosen to coach the national side, and world class signings Luka Modric, Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van Der Vaart would help guide the team to European and domestic glory.
Ten weeks and four competitive matches into Villas-Boas’ reign at White Hart Lane, and already his characteristic request for time has been asked for. However, with Modric and Van Der Vaart fleeing the shores in quests for more illustrious careers, and the signing of Adebayor secured by the skin of their teeth, the fate of the club is looking more Championship than Champions League.
It mustn’t be forgotten that whilst two of Tottenham’s playmakers, who time and time again dictated the plays leading to a top four place last season, have departed the club, others have also been brought in. Dembele, Dempsey, Lloris and Vertonghen are more than capable of guiding the club to glory, and Vertonghen and Dembele amicably proved this in Spurs’ impressive 3-1 victory over Reading yesterday – only their second away victory in 2012.
The players are definitely of a high enough calibre to perform, but the question on everybody’s lips is if the manager is. Unfortunately for AVB, his spell at Chelsea has blotted his gallant performance at Porto, and as a nation of fans renowned for our lack of patience, no fan wants to wait a season for their players and manager to gel.
English fans want instant reward, and under AVB it is feared that this is something Spurs fans will rarely experience. Time will surely tell, and with the pressure to perform already heavily breathing down AVB’s neck, his ability or inability to guide Tottenham to a top four place by Christmas may be all the time he is given. Either way, the club need results fast, otherwise the board could start looking elsewhere for a replacement.
image: © Vladimir Maiorov