After a poor start to the season Andre Villas-Boas found himself under instant pressure at Tottenham Hotspur. After back-to-back wins, has the Portuguese finally turned the team around?
When Andre Villas-Boas took over as Spurs coach, there would have been massive fears from Tottenham Hotspur fans that their club wouldn’t be going anywhere this season. Double that with a defeat and two draws from the first three games of the season and there were echoes of Villas-Boas’ short spell at Chelsea starting to emerge.
So what has he done to secure back-to-back wins in the league that have seen Spurs rocket up to eighth place? Well to begin with he has kept with the same players in the key areas of the team and those players haven’t started a mutiny as was the case at Chelsea. Jan Vertonghen and William Gallas have held the defence together while Jermain Defoe has been the key figure in attack.
What this has allowed AVB to do is press home the philosophy of how he wants his team to play. He has not had to make many changes, the players seem to like him and they are now unbeaten in four games after losing the opening match of the season. It takes a few games for any new manager to get a team playing how he desires and the fruits are starting to show for Tottenham.
Another key area where AVB has done well is introducing younger members of the Spurs squad into the side at the right time. In the last two wins this has allowed Spurs to maintain their energy late into a game to hold onto a result. Kyle Naughton has started in the defence while Steven Caulker has provided support from the subs bench and live wire Andros Townsend has been brought on towards the end of matches. The effect this has is that it rubs of on the older and more experienced players in the side that are starting to tire.
Tactically AVB is a very astute manager. When Spurs went 1-0 down in the match against Queens Park Rangers he decided to drop the idea of playing five across the midfield to dominate as Defoe looked isolated. He switched quickly to a 4-4-2 which injected some urgency into the team and allowed them to create more chances which subsequently produced the win. It’s very important that AVB shows this same tactical cleverness and the desire to take risks over the rest of the season.
The most important area that has allowed AVB to turn things around at Spurs is the fact he is not being questioned by some of the bigger or older players at the club. At Chelsea he was constantly undermined because of the way he wanted the team to play and the players he was selecting. Team unity goes a long way to helping a side win a football match because results can be turned around late on if the players are more willing to go a little bit further for each other.
Spurs sit just outside the top four, which is their main aim. They have played five matches producing a win and two draws at home and a win and a defeat away from home. They have scored eight goals which is only one less than Chelsea at the top of the league and conceded six which is the same record as Manchester United in second.