Football

Andre Villas-Boas ready to deliver Tottenham to the promised land

AVB may find progress easier to make with the backing of the moneymen at Spurs (©GettyImages)
AVB may find progress easier to make with the backing of the moneymen at Spurs (©GettyImages).

If it’s not about the falling off of the horse but getting back on it, Tottenham must be sick to the back teeth of the nag that keeps hurling them to the ground.

For Spurs, their existence centres around Champions League qualification and this season is no different as they dust themselves off once more and place their foot in the stirrup.

They have, like or not, been stuck in the same cycle more or less since 2006 and they’ve been banging their head against a glass ceiling time and time again.

Back then a pasta-based dish was the villain but the themes were all too familiar – a narrow miss in their assault for a top-four finish ended up in one of their leading lights heading for pastures new. Reset and repeat. Sound familiar?

Of course there was the solitary exception to the rule when they lunged for the line in 2010 but since then it has been a series of near misses, each more heart-wrenching than the last.

Last time round was no different. A record number of points were pouched but Arsenal’s sublime form in the home straight was just enough. A near-miss and their best player Gareth Bale is heading towards the exit.

So surely it’s only right to expect more of the same this time round? Well, whisper it quietly but there is plenty of good reasons to think that the cycle can be broken once for all. In fact, there are 60 million that come to mind immediately.

But it isn’t just the arrival of Messrs Soldado, Chadli, Capoue and of course Brazilian international Paulinho that is enough to make Spurs fans’ pulse quicken, although it must be exciting to see their club acting so decisively for once and with more to come too by all accounts.

No, above all else, it seems that a quiet revolution is afoot at White Hart Lane, not so much a shift in approach but certainly in mentality.

Pre-match press conferences are rarely the most enlivening of things but to listen to Andre Villas-Boas before his side’s opening day trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday offered a tantalising glimpse into what has been going on behind the walls of White Hart Lane during the summer months.

"You recognised that last year, at certain stages particularly March, April, when we were involved in the Europa League and the Premier League at the same time when we were struck by injuries,” the Portuguese boss said.

“It made us try to look for alternatives that sometimes didn’t work.

“So our idea is to build a team that has two players, three in the goalkeeper’s case, per position. That allows us to keep same quality without the squad dropping too many levels in terms of consistency for the whole season."

It is one thing to say, another thing to do but Villas-Boas spoke with the confidence of a man who had the backing of those in control of the purse strings.

That's not to say he didn't have his paymaster's ear before but it would seem they are now more willing to back their manager, a man with a sense for the long-term and the love of a "project", and trust in his approach.

A pre-season trip to Barbados, nominally to play a friendly but essentially to visit enigmatic billionaire owner Joe Lewis pre-empted Spurs’ summer splurge. With ally Franco Baldini installed as director of football it’s all systems go, and a word in the ear of Daniel Levy from PSG’s owners seems to have been enough to firm up the Spurs chairman’s beliefs that he is backing the right horse.

The story goes that Villas-Boas was left frustrated after failed moves for Joao Moutinho and Leandro Damiao along the way, so it is perhaps no surprise to see a shift in approach when pressed by the man with his head in the guillotine, especially when the promised land was dangled so seductively in front of their noses last season.

Of course it is impossible to ignore Gareth Bale, the Welshman who drove Tottenham to the brink of their goal almost single-handedly at times.

A talent such as his would be missed from any team in the world, but there is an overriding sense of calm despite his seemingly impending exit; a feeling that if he does eventually leave then a team that under Villas-Boas is greater than the sum of its parts can cope. It’s surprising what a few good summer buys can do for confidence.

So with a long hard slog ahead of them through the winter dark and rain, Spurs look ahead to the new season with a sense of optimism that extends beyond the usual glass-half-full outlook that comes every August.

They are trying to break the cycle that has shackled their progress and meant their best looked on enviously elsewhere while they hatched an escape plan. That they have started to take a different approach in an attempt to break free can only be a positive.

With Andre Villas-Boas leading the charge and the right men willing to back him there are plenty of good reasons to back Spurs to get what they want ahead of stagnating rivals Arsenal. At long last they appear ready for the big push. For them and from Sunday at Selhurst Park, this is it. Time to get back on the horse once more.

Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
Football
Gareth Bale

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