Villas-Boas respectful of cup competitions
Tottenham have fielded strong starting XIs in the so-called 'lesser competitions' under Andre Villas-Boas
Many managers have adopted the approach in recent years that the so-called lesser competitions don’t warrant the use of a full-strength line-up.
Regularly naming teams full of younger, inexperienced players, domestic cup competitions have often been way down the list of priorities for a number of England's top teams.
Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas disagrees with such philosophies and has treated both the domestic cup competitions, as well as the Europa League, with a great deal of respect this season - something that previous manager Harry Redknapp failed to do - and there’s a lot to be said for the consequences.
After all it was his victory in UEFA's second most prestigious continental club tournament that attracted the attention of Chelsea for his services in the first place. Similarly, there were few who didn’t enjoy Fulham’s fantastic run to the Europa League Final in 2010, which did wonders for the morale of everyone at Craven Cottage, in addition to putting the club on the map for the rest of the continent’s top teams.
In contrast, Arséne Wenger’s youth-friendly approach to the likes of the league and FA Cup in recent years has resulted in nothing but frustration for the Arsenal fans, as their infamous wait for a major trophy only continues to drag on.
AVB’s professional and respectful modus operandi for such tournaments has brought about a winning mentality to the Spurs squad since his appointment in the summer, not least of all in striker, Jermain Defoe.
Notoriously a streaky player who benefits from extended runs in the first-team, Defoe has benefitted immensely from playing in the Europa League, especially this season as his goal tally shows - 14 goals to date.
What this mentality also does, is potentially reduce some complacency that may creep in amongst the players when faced with weaker opposition. A factor not to be sniggered at for a club that has been susceptible to a cup upset or two in recent times. For example, a shaky and unnerving 1-1 draw at Stevenage in the FA Cup last season, a 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi-final nearly three years ago, and in 2009, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Burnley in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final, where only away goals spared further embarrassment for Spurs.
By playing the same group of players week in, week out, regardless of opposition, AVB has managed to keep up the solid form of several players in the first-team. Winning games can become something of a habit for a team that plays together regularly, as Manchester United have shown constantly over recent decades.
So who’s to say that Tottenham can’t put together a string of successful displays in cup competitions over the coming years under Villas-Boas? After all, Spurs have always been thought of as a cup team . . .
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