Andre Villas-Boas left Tottenham by ‘mutual consent’ in the aftermath 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Brendan Rodgers' inspired Liverpool at White Hart Lane.
However, the writing has been on the wall for the young Portuguese manager for quite some time now. Here we look at the factors that contributed to AVB’s departure:
The mass recruitment
The club’s response to losing Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world-record fee was to sanction no less than seven new signings, all of who had never played in the English Premier League.
Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Étienne Capoue, Paulinho, and Vlad Chiricheș all came into the Spurs squad for a combined total of over a 100 million pounds. What the Spurs administration and AVB failed to realise was the challenge of integrating seven new players into the team and adjusting them to intensity of the Premier League.
In hindsight, the signings could have been made over multiple windows. Players need time to integrate into the squad, get to know their teammates, get to know the football, and even the country. The Spurs ‘head coach’ and director of football, Franco Baldini were ultimately culpable.
The high defensive line
The head coach’s stubbornness in sticking to a high defensive line led to massacres at the hands of City and Liverpool. Michael Dawson is definitely not a player who is tailor-made for this strategy.
If AVB wanted to play this way, it would have made sense to get in a speedy defender or two. But, playing a high line with Dawson marshalling the defence was suicidal to say the least. Lest we forget, AVB did the same at Chelsea with John Terry made to suffer at the centre of defence.
Tactics for Roberto Soldado
Roberto Soldado has been roundly criticised for his inability to find the back of the net on a regular basis in the Premier League.
A Real Madrid youth team graduate, Soldado managed 81 goals in 141 appearances for previous club, Valencia, so he isn’t the worst striker in the world by any measure. He needs to shoulder some of the blame, but his coach did not exactly facilitate his goal scoring by playing inverted wingers who cut in and took shots at goal from distance rather than supplying him with quality balls from the wings.
Even with Lennon and Townsend fit for the Liverpool game, AVB went with Chadli on the left side, rather than throwing in the left footed Townsend to use his pace and get some service in from the left.
AVB’s bosses expected a title challenge. With managerial changes at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, they saw this season as a huge opportunity. However, the expectation was unrealistic from quite a few viewpoints.
Firstly, Gareth Bale’s influence on the team last season was immense. Losing him was always going to be hard. Secondly, despite the flux at the other clubs, Spurs brought about a huge change in their own squad.
Seven new signings is a monumental change to a squad. And thirdly, the club bosses failed to recognise that except for United, the rest of the challengers had made significant improvements as well. Arsenal brought in Ozil to give everyone a lift at the Emirates. Chelsea brought in Schurrle, Willian, Eto’o and most importantly the trophy winning nous of Jose Mourinho.
Manchester City made improvements to a squad, which was already the strongest in the league. Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers made a few astute signings like Mamadou Sakho, Simon Mignolet, Victor Moses (on loan), and Aly Cissokho (on loan) and managed to keep Luis Suarez, who is arguably the most in form attacker in the world at the moment along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa.
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