Welcome to Tottenham, Mr AVB
|Aidil Rusli loves rock 'n' roll, still believes in the words "indie" and "underground", and after all these years still sings in his band Couple myspace.com/couple. You can get in touch with Aidil by emailing: [email protected]|
JULY 7 — And so it’s confirmed. After a few long weeks of sweating, wondering who will take over as manager at my beloved Tottenham Hotspur when the club parted ways with Harry Redknapp, we now have Andre Villas-Boas (or AVB, as the English press likes to call him) as our new manager.
Just 12 months ago, AVB was the hottest young manager in international football after he won the treble with FC Porto during his first season in charge, winning the Europa Cup, the Portuguese Cup and the Primeira Liga by more than 20 points and going through the whole season unbeaten in the league.
All this success led to him being dubbed “the new Mourinho” by the press, and Roman Abramovich promptly snapped him up to manage Chelsea, reportedly paying Porto a compensation fee of around £12 million (RM60 million).
What happened eight months later, I’m sure almost everyone knows. From being the hottest young manager to abject failure (especially when his assistant, Roberto Di Matteo, took over as caretaker manager and somehow managed to win the Champions League with the same set of players) to being sacked by Chelsea, this appointment is surely not risk-free for Spurs.
His tactical decisions when he was in charge at Chelsea probably baffled many, especially his decision to play a high defensive line when his centre-backs are not exactly known for their speed. Stories of player revolt and how he had lost the dressing room also makes this quite a scary time to be Spurs fan.
But unlike most other clubs in the English Premier League, we have quite a shrewd businessman in our chairman Daniel Levy, who’s probably more involved with transfer dealings than most other clubs’ chairmen.
It’s public knowledge that the signing of the world class Rafael Van Der Vaart for the unbelievable sum of just £8 million was wholly Levy’s doing, and to sign a manager who was football’s hottest young manager just 12 months ago for nothing (when Chelsea paid £12 million for him) could very well be another one of his many astute decisions throughout the years.
Still, there are simply no guarantees which AVB will turn up for Spurs. Will it be the all-conquering brilliant one at FC Porto or the clueless one at Chelsea? The only way us Spurs fans have to try to console or convince ourselves is the fact that the players that we have and the way we play is quite different from Chelsea, and will probably more suited to AVB’s preferred tactics when he was at FC Porto.
We don’t have an established “old guard” of players who are actually older than the manager (Chelsea had quite a few of those), and the ones who are older are either retiring or are basically new to the club. The younger players are mostly attack-minded ones, and we’ve been playing with a lot of width, a system that AVB prefers, since the last few years. So in theory it could very well work.
We have already announced the signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson for around £8 million, which turned out to be something of a surprise as it looked like he was going to Liverpool just a few months back, and another top target, Jan Vertonghen, the Belgian international defender has very publicly committed to a move to Spurs, which just needs a little bit of sorting out because of some contractual issues with his current club Ajax Amsterdam.
If we do finally get Vertonghen, then it’s starting to look like the only problem areas left in our first team squad are the striking position and a cover for Aaron Lennon on the right wing, as all our important first team players are already on long-term contracts or have recently signed one like Gareth Bale did about a week back.
The only problem now is whether Luka Modric will still be donning Spurs’ colours next season, as again he’s been making noise about wanting to move on in order to play in the Champions League.
Levy held firm last year when Chelsea openly courted Modric and even rejected a reportedly £40 million bid for the man. With Manchester United’s recent purchase of Shinji Kagawa, it’s not likely that they’ll need Modric this season either, and that leaves only Real Madrid as the only real suitor left in the market for a midfielder of Modric’s talents and tag price.
If Modric stays, and we do get one or two 20-goals-a-season strikers added to our squad, then we’d at least have a first team squad capable of facing any team out there, and quite a young team too. But knowing how much the press loves Harry Redknapp, surely the knives will already be out even during the first match of the season.
Here’s hoping AVB knows what he’s doing, and this won’t be another Juande Ramos or Christian Gross fiasco.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.