Andre Villas-Boas and the North London Derby

At the end of the match on Saturday I wanted to write this piece immediately, but decided to mull it over for a couple of days before putting pen to paper, figuratively of course – I don’t want a well known tabloid to start a feature about me using pen and paper like some kind of square.

Looking back now, I think it’s still fair to say that Andre Villas-Boas’ stock rose with a great deal of Tottenham Hotspur fans this weekend, despite the poor result at the Emirates.

One of the criticisms the manager has faced in recent weeks it the lack of attacking intent in Spurs’ line-ups. Saturday saw a far different approach, with Spurs lining up as a 4-4-2 at the start of the game, before switching to a completely unexpected 3-2-3-1 (loosely) for the second half.

Villas-Boas also moved Vertonghen into the middle of the defence, and started Lloris ahead of Friedel. To my eye, the formation and substitutions he picked were not only the right choices; they were traditional Spurs choices.

To dare is to do, and few things are more daring than switching to a three at the back ten man system when away at Arsenal. Both the starting line-up and the changes he made at half-time wrong-footed Arsenal, and gave Spurs hope in a second half they had no right to have any hope in.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about Andre Villas-Boas’ start to management at Spurs is that he makes bold choices, and seems full of ideas. Fans may not always agree with him, I certainly don’t always agree with him – Lloris should have played for a while now, though I will admit I am developing an unhealthy obsession with the Frenchman; it’s probably the cheekbones – but there seems to be a plan in mind when he makes those choices.

There are 5-2 losses, and there are 5-2 losses. Last season saw Spurs come out in the second half with no idea how to combat the Arsenal pressure; this season we took the initiative in the second half despite having only ten men. Had it paid off, had Bale found the pass to Defoe to make it 4-3 and Spurs then gone on to grab a point or three, then Villas-Boas would be lauded from every corner for the changes he made.

Although it didn’t pay off, those changes should be recognised as good, bold, Spurs-esque management. There was a chance in that second half, and the North London side now have a manager who can create those chances, even if he will insist on using a notebook.


  1. Roddy Campbell

    November 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    absolutely, the starting lineup worked when many of us were scared of being over run in midfield, and the half-time changes worked, and could have worked better, bold and brave effort at turning a hopeless situation around.

    two probs:

    – not being at least realistic that Adebayor clearly made us losing 90% probable, you don't have to tear him a new one, just say that ten men makes you likely to lose.

    – saying we controlled the game – no. We put in a morale boosting and brave effort, could have gone home with tail right between legs, but didn't. he could have said he was proud of us, no need to boast stupidly.

  2. SussexSpur

    November 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Excellent post and all points I agree with. Felt extremely optimistic after the defeat in all honesty. We showed spirit and guts to go to three at the back (both the players and the manager) with 10 men and so many injuries. Also dispelled the rumours (that I was starting to believe) that AVB is too stubborn to listen.

  3. jimmythesaint

    November 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    areyou all deluded? do you really think we played at all well when we lost 5-2 AGAIN? The massacre we endured was not only due to that waster Adebayor getting sent off but thfact that we were completely and utterly USELESS just as we have been for most of the season so far. We have shipped in 21 goals in the league which is e 6th worst and have only won 1 game in europe in 4…overall we have played 18 including the capital cup and have won just 7! We are useless and will not finish in the top 8 the way we're laying letalone in the top 4.

  4. Paul

    November 21, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Why the hell does he persist with the donkey known as Huddlestone. The guy is about as mobile as a bag of cement.

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