It's been a bizarre season at White Hart Lane, with Andre Villas-Boas's dismissal, regular thrashings against the big teams, and a lack of goals. But after yesterday's improved performance, can Tottenham salvage anything from this season?
Form would suggest not, and neither would the league table. A top-four finish has arguably been out of the question for a number of weeks, but the defeat to Arsenal seems to have eliminated any slight chance there may have been. In addition to this, Spurs seem to be at the end of the road in Europe, having surely given themselves too much to do as they travel to the Estádio da Luz on Thursday with a 3-1 deficit, against one of the in-form sides in Europe.
But where did it all go wrong? In the opening weeks of the season Tottenham's back line seemed alomst impenetrable, conceding just two goals in their opening eleven games in all competitions. Then came the turning point. Even in these opening games, whilst the defence was solid, goals were harder to come by for Spurs. And when the defence wasn't so solid, Tottenham's ineptitude in front of goal was horribly exposed - by West Ham.
A 3-0 defeat to the Hammers at White Hart Lane raised eyebrows and ultimately proved to be the beginning of the end for Villas-Boas, with his team scoring just three goals in their next five games, culminating in a 6-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
That day it was confirmed that the West Ham defeat hadn't been a blip, there was something horribly wrong. The team still struggled to score, but now they couldn't defend either. Spurs did however pick up seven points from their next three games, but a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool at White Hart Lane saw the end of Villas-Boas' rein.
But should he have been given until the end of the season at least? Tim Sherwood was brought in on an 18-month contract, but the writing seems to be on the wall for Sherwood, with the possibility of big name managers such as Louis van Gaal or Frank De Boer becoming available in the summer following the World Cup, it seems unlikely that the Englishman will still be in charge come August.
Has Sherwood improved Tottenham, though? The stats would suggest otherwise. In Villas-Boas' 26 games in charge this season, Spurs possessed a 69% win percentage, with an average of scoring 1.69 goals per game, and conceding just 0.96 goals per game. With Sherwood winning nine of his 19 games in charge he has a win percentage of 47%, with 1.42 goals scored per game and 1.37 goals conceded per game. Every one of these stats would suggest that Sherwood has made the team worse.
What put Villas-Boas under an enormous amount of pressure and media scrutiny at the time wasn't just losing games, but the manner in which they were doing so. The total capitulations against West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool put the manager under an extraordinary amount of pressure.
You could argue that even if they had still lost these games, but by a smaller margin, Villas-Boas may still be manager today. But under Sherwood, nothing has changed, as the 5-1 defeat at home to Manchester City, and the 4-0 defeat at Chelsea would testify.
So was there any point sacking Andre Villas-Boas when Tottenham did? It cost a huge amount of money in compensation, and with the reported main targets Frank De Boer and Louis van Gaal not potentially being available until the summer, it is clear that Sherwood was not first choice. Would Spurs have been worse off if Villas-Boas was still in charge?
If Daniel Levy was still not happy at how the team had achieved come the summer, he could have just dismissed Villas-Boas then, when the likes of De Boer and Van Gaal could have been available. But with Levy extending his ruthless streak back in December, we'll never know.
Do you think Andre Villas-Boas should have been given more time? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.
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