Villas-Boas under more pressure than Moyes or Mourinho

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In this summer of transition amongst the Premier League’s elite, there is at least some familiarity to be found in north London.

While such continuity is struggling to encourage optimism at the Emirates, the opposite must be said for neighbouring Tottenham Hotspur.

Andre Villas-Boas enters his second season in charge at White Hart Lane no longer dubbed the struggling heir to Mourinho, as he finally appears to be finding his Premier League feet.

There is a sense of stability for him now at Tottenham, having silenced many doubters with a spirited top-four challenge last term.

But, Villas-Boas is now entering a career defining season, even more so than the new boys surrounding him.

For David Moyes, taking up the reigns of Sir Alex Ferguson should be the most daunting task any manager has ever undertaken. However when Fergie left Old Trafford he left behind a new footballing ideology now ingrained into every United fan; simply that of patience.

Given Ferguson’s indisputable success, it is easy to forget the troubles of his early Manchester United career. The fans don’t, in fact rightly or wrongly there is a growing belief in football that longevity and patience will eventually bring success.

Moyes then, unless complete disaster strikes, is blessed with the gift of time at United, a gift Villas-Boas does not share.

Meanwhile at Chelsea there is the most trigger happy owner in the business, yet ironically no manager’s position looks as secure as Jose Mourinho’s. The Chelsea faithful have welcomed back the ‘Special One’ like a warrior returning home from battle and Roman Abramovich dare not shorten this joyous reunion.

Abramovich’s relationship with Chelsea fans reached new levels of fragility last season, when his revolving door system of managers saw a fan favourite replaced by an old enemy. The fans will not stand for yet another show of disloyalty and disrespect. Not this time, not with Mourinho.

Managerial pressure then does not come from exterior critics; it comes from within the club, dictated by the internal relationships between the fans, manager and owner. At no other club than Tottenham this year is there greater potential for them to become strained.

Villas-Boas may well be considered one of the finest young managers in the game, but his relationship with the supporters has not quite fully developed. A poor season and Villas-Boas will not be labelled the undeserving victim of football’s modern sacking culture, just another Tottenham manager whose overall performance fell short of what his reputation promised.

Can he then instead hope for loyalty from his employer? In reality he must expect very little from Daniel Levy, a man whose impeccable reputation in the transfer market overshadows a ruthless nature that saw Harry Redknapp and Martin Jol discarded without a second thought. Levy isn’t scared of a good sacking, and nobody is immune.

The real difference at Tottenham this year is expectation. The optimism around White Hart Lane at the moment is infectious and it’s easy to see why. Despite losing Bale, they in fact look in better shape now than they have done for years.

Arch-rivals Arsenal are struggling to strengthen, while Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all undergone sizeable changes of which the results are not yet clear.

Tottenham, on the other hand, have invested heavily in putting together a world class squad. In Roberto Soldado they look to have solved their striker problem. The supporting acts of Paulinho, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen aren’t too bad either, and a certain Welshman looks set to be forgotten astonishingly quickly.

Forget about challenging for the top four, the expectation now is to challenge for the title.

But, optimism and expectation are as dangerous as they are promising, and any disappointment comes with an added bitter aftertaste. There is only man who the fans will question if it all goes wrong, one man who must now shoulder the weight of the expectation rapidly building at his club. For Andre Villas-Boas, now more than ever, the pressure’s on.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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