Tottenham find themselves in a similar position to last year as they go into the business end of the season in third place.
However, the differences between this season’s team to that of the last campaign are significant. The loss of three key players - Luka Modric, Rafael Van der Vaart and Ledley King could well have been the prelude to a season without any real chance of attaining a Champions League place.
Thanks to the work of manager Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham may well be playing in Europe’s top competition next season.
Although many may argue that it has been the work of Gareth Bale that has kept Spurs’ Champions League ambitions alive, Villas-Boas has been crucial to the Welshman’s astonishing form.
The decision to play Bale as a striker rather than winger displays both Villas-Boas’ understanding of his player’s abilities, and also the limitations of the squad he inherited from Harry Redknapp.
Villas-Boas told ESPNt: “You have seen us play with Dempsey and Bale up front and we have had periods in the season when our strikers have been injured and we have coped with it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so”
Villas-Boas is being kind to his two main strikers Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor who have ultimately, through a mixture of poor form and injury, let the side down this season. This is especially the case since the New Year, which has seen Defoe and Adebayor score one goal between them in the league.
Many argue that Tottenham have a lot of strength in depth but this may not be the case. Clint Dempsey, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and so far Lewis Holtby, have all failed to fill the void left by Van der Vaart in the traditional ‘number ten’ role.
Furthermore Tottenham have no cover in wide areas after Villas-Boas opted for the questionable decision to loan Andros Townsend to QPR. Spurs also lack real quality in midfield - beyond Moussa Dembele and the injured Sandro, Scott Parker looks to b on the decline.
Given all these potential shortcomings, the job that Villas-Boas has done so far looks all the more impressive. Indeed it also makes Harry Redknapp’s work look less so. The Englishman arguably had a squad with more quality but often chose not to use it. The likes of Niko Krancjar and Roman Pavlyuchenko were underused and eventually sold. They may well have played crucial roles this season had they still been at the club.
As Spurs reach the end of the season Villas-Boas’ work is by no means finished. However should his Spurs side attain a Champions League place then he must be high on the list for Manager of the Season, and he may finally have proven to English football fans that his hugely successful season as manger of Porto was not simply a one-off.
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