After weeks of confrontations with the press and heavy defeats to top 4 rivals, Andre Villas-Boas has been sacked as Tottenham head coach. The news will not come as a surprise with David Levy known for his no-nonsense approach, but whether the sacking of the Portuguese manager was justified will be debated over the next few days.
Losing Gareth Bale in the summer would be a massive loss for any side in world football and the reliance on the Welsh winger Tottenham had in the closing months of last season was a sign of the troubles they would encounter after his departure. However, spending £100m in the summer on good players raised the expectations and the pressure on Villas-Boas and he needed to hit the ground running, yet the number of new players introduced into the side – some at a late stage of the transfer window too – has hindered Tottenham’s development so far this season as he disrupted the flow of the side.
Villas-Boas has also been unfortunate with injuries to defence where their strength has lied for most of the season. Their 3 best and preferred centre backs – Vertonghen, Kaboul, and Chiriches – have all scuppered to injury which left Spurs with Dawson the only fit, senior centre back in the squad.
There is, of course, blame to be laid at Villas-Boas’ feet. The continued use of a high defensive line when he did not have the players to utilise it – Michael Dawson’s performances have been particularly woeful due to his complete lack of mobility – and in the two previous games preceding Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool, Tottenham played a deeper line before reverting back to the high line with disaster effects. The decision to let Assou Ekotto leave on loan for the season was also a strange decision with Kyle Naughton and Zeki Fryers stepping up to the role of back-ups, which ultimately saw Vertonghen have to deputise at full back – whether Villas-Boas had a say in Assou Ekotto’s departure though is unclear with Franco Baldini employed as Director of Football.
The interactions with the press were going to be key after replacing Harry Redknapp, who is notorious for his relationship with the media, but Villas-Boas failed on this front with a clash with Neil Ashton after the Manchester United match and the fallout after his decision not to replace Lloris after his incident against Everton. Add this to the criticism of the atmosphere at White Hart Lane after another abject performance; Villas-Boas was helping the devil to dig his own grave.
Despite for all of his faults, Villas-Boas leaves Tottenham with the highest win percentage (55%) of any Spurs manager in the Premier League era. The sacking of Villas-Boas is just another case of immediate success needed in football to avoid getting the boot and the expectation that the team should easily qualify for the Champions League in a season where inconsistent form seems to be fashionable after the incorporation of seven new players, all key to the Spurs team, is completely unrealistic. The constant talk by the majority of clubs of ‘a project’ and looking towards the long term aspirations of the club has become a joke as 18 months down the line – 17 months in this case – a new manager is brought as the success has happened soon enough.
With a new manager set to come and more upheaval likely to happen to the coaching and playing staff, it is difficult to see whether the sacking will be have been seen as a positive move in 12 months time.