Sunday, November 11, 2012

AVB: Messiah…or fool?

Andre Villas-Boas is Tottenham’s most divisive manager since, er, Harry Redknapp. The Portuguese can do no right in some fans’ eyes and no wrong in others. Villas-Boas will inevitably make mistakes and their severity will dictate his future as Spurs boss; the only certainty is that his reign will not be defined by a 2-1 away defeat to billionaire bankrolled Manchester City.

At the Etihad Stadium, Emmanuel Adebayor’s substitution was greeted with anger and derision by pockets of the Spurs away support around me. I had called the change minutes earlier feeling that the effective Adebayor’s ongoing spat with City’s Pablo Zabaleta might have seen the Togo striker dismissed for a second yellow card.

The obnoxious Zabaleta adroitly switched roles from mugger to victim with Adebayor the constant focus of his ire. It reminded me a little of the way Peter Crouch was targeted by Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg. Villas-Boas duly made a ‘like-for-like’ striker change that was anything but. While Adebayor and Jermain Defoe technically play the same position they are poles apart as players.

The predatory Defoe offers greater pace on the counter, but in a game that was fast becoming a backs-to-the-wall situation cannot offer the focal point of Adebayor and his nous for bringing others into play. Clint Dempsey has proven as anonymous as namesake Eastwood’s film roles of late and was the preferred option among many fans for withdrawal. Yet a conventional 4-4-2 at City would have likely opened up the floodgates at this point. Dempsey for Defoe was not a realistic switch with bullish billionaires City in the ascendancy and their wing-backs pushing on furiously for the win. One glance at the sidelines showed Jake Livermore, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Carroll sitting in tracksuits. The Tottenham bench looks thinner than Victoria Beckham on a beach holiday. Money is a great divider and, compared to City, we shop at Poundland and this financial disparity should always dilute expectations with a healthy drop of realism.

With many of City’s team and bench in the £20million plus bracket and Spurs stripped of midfield dynamo Mousa Dembele, defensive rock Younes Kaboul as well as player of the season Scott Parker and celebrated LOL-merchant Benoit Assou-Ekotto this away day was always a tough ask, especially given City’s long unbeaten run on home soil. Positives were the welcome return of Sandro who put in a characteristic ball-breaking performance, the overdue inclusion of Adebayor in a Premier League starting line-up and some spirited stops by the ageless Brad Friedel.

It is fair to say that Villas-Boas’ tactical acumen has not come as advertised. He is certainly guilty of negative substitutions in positive positions. But he has been hamstrung by injuries and Daniel Levy’s ‘careful’ spending policy (Spurs were again in the black in the last transfer window having moved on star players Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart for that ubiquitous ‘good deal’ while once more sidestepping a pressing need for an additional striker).

AVB cannot yet be labelled messiah or fool; he merely requires the time neither of those individuals have.


John said...

Cannot believe that with Lennon and Bale on the pitch that AVB would want to hold a high line and press in front of them...surely it's better to invite shitty on,drop off and try and use our best 2 players out wide and playing on the break...Ade could also have been the out ball today on the counter! AVB is playing HIS tactics with a team that is not equipped to play it. There may be trouble ahead as i see it getting a lot worse and under this manager not any better!

shuban said...

he's not the messiah he a very naughty boy

I just do not get why replace a player who is good at keeping possession with one who is not and why did we not replace the ineffective Clint Dempsey with say JD or even Tom Carroll

Andrew G said...

Generally, I am big fan of AVB and I think that if he gets a fair shake and the time, things will come good.

The problem I had with today's game was that the entire game was set up for defeat. We played from the onset as if we were protecting a 1 goal lead in the dying minutes.

We never had any attacking presence. None at all. Adebayor was the only threat the whole day. The best chance we had was the back flick to Huddlestone.

I know we are not as skilled or deep or technical as City, and I know we are on the road, but I feel as if we gave the game away before it ever started.

I think we showed City too much respect. Look at Ajax -- Ajax are surely a weaker side than Spurs -- but Ajax refused to bow down City and played their game.

I do not like how when we play the bigger teams in the league how we immediately become shy and act as if we are lucky to churn out a result. We should play same attacking football against United City Arsenal as we do against Villa Southampton et al.

Also, I love Clint Dempsey as a player, but I am starting to worry he will never find his place in this side. I can see him playing ABOVE adebayor, but not behind him.

I think we should try Adebayor as CAM, and have Defore play the sole striker position. I realize Adebayor is a traditional striker, but he has the class and creativity to play the number 10 role -- and Sigurdson and Dempsey clearly are not ready or able.

Tim said...

Great blog with a realistic assesment of Sundays game, the trouble is it was played to the backdrop of a home defeat against Wigan. Had we got the expected 3 points in that game then there would have been a more realistic assesment from our fans of where we are. Message - we must, must, must improve our home form, oh and we must get Moussa fit!

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks John for the comment. AVB's tactical nous is certainly open for debate. Without the outball of Adebayor, the game became one-way traffic in the final 10 minutes.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Ha ha, Shuban. Let's try to 'look on the bright side' with AVB. Dempsey was anonymous and lucky to play 90 minutes.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Great comment, Andrew. The tactical negativity of AVB is a concern. It's not the Spurs way and we're not known for defending a lead! Adebayor in a deeper midfield role could work if he remains disciplined. Regardless, he has to play in away games at the very least.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Many thanks, Tim. Very good point. The reaction to the City defeat was as much a backlash to the Wigan reverse. The home form is a big concern for me. Less points and excitement than we should realistically expect.

Anonymous said...

Good piece as usual. Realistic. Seems like a lot of Spurs-fans expect us to get points away to the champions without our strongest team. I was fearing us doing a lot worse to be honest, after Wigan at home. Impressed how City cancelled out our wing play. The moaning of Kolarov and Zabaleta though, so frustrating. If you dish it out, you have to take it. Also I thought/hoped Sandro had killed a couple of their players during the game. Also their second goal would never have happened without dubious defending by Dawson and Brad. If Aguero and Tevez is too quick for you, that's alright. But the tank Dzeko? Please!

I was only hoping he'd put Defoe on for Dempsey. I think Ade could have gotten Zabaleta sent off.

Dembele better be fit for the Gooner-game. LOL-merchants forever!


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day - we have no right to beat anybody. AVB's tic tacs leave a lot to be desired.

Surely if you only play 1 out and out striker you wouldn't be expected to win too many games.

That would be good if we has a fabregas, xavi or iniesta behind!We'll get beat by goons and struggle against the spammers.

I suppose it's best to look at where we are after 19games with another 19 to go.

On another point, we had the worse record last season by some way of conceding after 80 mins. Obviously we didn't lose always.

Dilemma for me is Walker Gallas and Dempsey. Not playing well at all. COYS