May 21 2013 Latest news:
By London24’s Spurs blogger Daniel Grigg
Monday, July 9, 2012
Spurs fan Daniel Grigg explains why Tottenham’s dressing room and playing staff are better suited to their new boss’s methods than their London rivals.
Andre Villas-Boas certainly has his critics and will start his time at Tottenham with more scrutiny and pressure than virtually every previous Spurs manager following the surprising – but in my view very understandable and well-timed – sacking of Harry Redknapp.
Of course it’s far too early to tell whether the critics will be confounded, especially when Villas-Boas has less than three seasons of professional football to his name.
However, I still feel it should be a firm step in the right direction for the club, who are now looking for a more youthful philosophy but will hopefully be just as attacking, creative and enjoyable to watch.
So what were the new boss’s mistakes at Chelsea, and how can they be avoided or corrected?
Villa-Boas was well-known to most of the Chelsea dressing room upon his arrival, having been a member of Jose Mourinho’s back-room staff.
The 34-year-old (then 33) was propelled to the top spot just five years later, but he seemingly struggled from a lack of respect from the club’s senior players like Frank Lampard and John Terry, which was compounded by a poor start to the season.
And, while there has been talk of the same scenario repeating itself at White Hart Lane, I can’t see any of this materialising, unless Spurs endure a similar start to the season to the 2008-09 campaign under Juande Ramos.
Part of the reason for his downfall at Chelsea was his side’s high defensive line, which was continually exposed, but Villas-Boas’s style of football shouldn’t be anywhere near as tricky to implement with Spurs’ existing players.
Both Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul are extremely quick, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto is also rapid across the ground.
However, in the centre of defence Spurs could be exposed by the lack of pace between Michael Dawson and new signing Jan Vertonghen - but the system was implemented at Porto with great success.
There he won the Portuguese league, cup and Europa League treble in 2010/11, and a steely defence conceded just 16 goals – with the two next best teams, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, both shipping 31.
So, despite his predilection for a more attacking style of football, there was no real history of leaky defensive displays in Villas-Boas’s career prior to his appointment at Chelsea.
Elsewhere at Spurs, Danny Rose has been called up to Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain Olympic squad - but his position and long-term future at Tottenham could well be under threat, with the talented teenager Ezekiel Fryers a target following the expiry of his contract at Manchester United.
The promising Steven Caulker - who signed a new four-year deal last week - has also been included in the squad for London 2012 and many Spurs fans will be hoping to see a lot more of him following his successful loan spell at Swansea last season.
But with 19-year-old Fryers a natural left back, Rose’s chances could well be limited. Fryers is quick, tough and energetic, and his strong tackling distinguishes him from a lot of other full-backs in the same mould.
At 6ft tall, and with a decent leap on him, Fryers is also an imposing figure in the air, who covered at centre-back a few times for United’s reserve team last term.
With first-choice left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto averaging around 31 league matches a season over the previous four campaigns, and even more in 2011-12, a short-term replacement is not urgently required.
However, left-back remained a nervy area for Spurs last season when the Cameroon international was absent, despite Rose starting the victories against Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers - thanks largely to the lack of any attacking creativity from the opposition, it has to be said.
Fryers could be the solution.