Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas was a relieved man after watching his side qualify for the next round of the UEFA Europa League with a 2-0 win at Norwegian side Tromso on Thursday night.
Spurs may have struggled at times to find their fluency on a freezing night in the Arctic Circle, but an own goal and Mousa Dembele’s first goal of the season proved enough to ensure progression with a game to spare and preserving their 100 per cent win record in Europe’s second tier competition this season.
The Portuguese tactician was in a defiant mood when speaking to press after the match, insisting that it was important for his side to come back in the manner that they did, and that his Spurs side will not roll over when the defending league champions come to town on Sunday.
“I am very happy for the players to have bounced back from the defeat against Man City. Obviously the opponent we have on Sunday is the biggest that we can have.
"But to prepare for that game, it was important to get back to winning ways tonight and we did it in a fashion where we looked solid and created lots of chances.
"I am extremely happy with the performance and the result,” he said.
The Spurs boss has been under the microscope since their crushing 6-0 drubbing at Manchester City, and he will in some ways be glad to have an opportunity to prove that last weekend’s showing was a one-off when the Red Devils come calling on Sunday.
He was certainly bullish in his assessment of his next opponent’s five-star showing against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, insisting that “it will have no bearing on Sunday.”
“I watched their game (against Bayer Leverkusen). It was a good performance, but it will have no bearing on Sunday. They are on a good run that changed their fortunes. We don’t expect an easy match, but it will be a completely different story on Sunday.
"I’m not being disrespectful, but it will be a different game in different conditions and our players will be mentally ready.”
AVB’s tenure as Spurs’ manager has come under siege from all quarters in recent days, and another high-profile name to join his naysayers was that of former Tottenham chairman Lord Alan Sugar.
Lord Sugar publicly criticised AVB in a radio interview on Thursday and said that his dream replacement for the Portuguese manager would be former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Villas-Boas however, clearly in high spirits after the win, endorsed Lord Sugar’s suggestion that the Red Devils legend would probably fair better at White Hart Lane than he had.
“I think it’s pretty fair to say (that Ferguson could do better). With the record Ferguson has, he would be a pretty good manager in any club in the world.”
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