Tottenham head coach André Villas-Boas today admitted his preferred style of play would never succeed at the club. In a short prepared address in front of a packed press conference, the Portuguese said he was disappointed that his energetic, pressing mode of football was incompatible with the English top-flight. In a stark message to his critics in the media and the Spurs support, AVB acknowledged that the ‘project’ had failed to prove it could produce a top four finish this season – seen as a minimum requirement after the success-laden years the club enjoyed under Harry Redknapp.
Over the course of the season, AVB has come under increasing pressure to find a winning formula. Disappointing displays in the league against Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich have yielded only 2 points and Spurs find themselves languishing in 14th place. If Spurs are unable to improve on this tally in the next five games, the growing chorus calling for the return of Redknapp will be undeniable.
It was as the boos rang loud inside White Hart Lane last Saturday that AVB says he realised his attempts to make the team less dependent upon star individuals was to blame. “My philosophy from day one was to create a better defensive shape while varying our creative sources; I now know this approach is flawed,” said AVB. “The three trophies won at Porto were clearly flukes,” he added.
AVB went on to set out his vision for the rest of the season: “It’ll be 4-4-2 all the way from here on in. I have already instructed Michael [Dawson] that I want him to get the ball forward as quickly as possible. Adebayor will be our primary target – his role will be to just f**king run around.”
Asked by reporters whether his change of heart suggested he had finally learned the lessons from his calamitous time at Chelsea, Villas-Boas accepted that he had been slow to take on board much of the criticism from that spell. But he insisted he had altered some of his methods, citing as an example that he no longer does that stupid crouch-and-point thing on the touchline.
Also present, Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy gave his head coach a vote of confidence. There was, though, a qualification to that support: “I and the Board have worked hard to wrap up transfers early this summer in order to give André a settled squad. It’s our belief that given our endeavours we are entitled to expect more from our on-pitch performances so far this season.”
Despite his pledge to adopt a simpler style of play, doubts remain over the ability of the 34 year old to turn around the club’s fortunes. Sources within the club suggest he may have lost the dressing room after failing to publicly state that any of the players deserve pay rises. This comes after similarly divisive actions such as banning the use of Beats headphones on match days and slashing Tom Huddlestone’s calorie intake to just 5,000 per day.