As Chris Foy blew the final whistle at Old Trafford 3,000 fans both breathed a sigh of relief and gasped with shock; Tottenham Hotspur had won at Old Trafford for the first time in 23 years. Andre Villas-Boas had already faced criticism, but I get a feeling on Saturday we all saw a glimpse of his vision.
Some fans and pundits questioned the sacking of Harry Redknapp and the hiring of Villas-Boas. After all, Redknapp was the man who took over at Spurs, sat at the foot of the table with two points to their name after eight games, managed to secure a respectable 9th place finish. The veteran boss then secured UEFA Champions League qualification the following season. Then there was Villas-Boas: treble winner at FC Porto, a season in which his team went unbeaten for a full league campaign. Which was followed with his flop, and that is an understatement, at Chelsea.
With all that in mind it is easy to see why Tottenham fans were apprehensive, after-all they have had their fair share of false dawns. But what does his appointment mean for Tottenham and where does their future lay?
At Stamford Bridge Villas-Boas always spoke of a ‘project’, a project which he did not get to finish. With the right players the Portuguese manager has proven he can get results, Porto being the example. Villas-Boas is also a proven talent spotter, signing Juan Mata for Chelsea as manager as well as organising Didier Drogba’s move to Chelsea when he was a scout. Then look at the 2012 summer window; admittedly replacing world class players such as Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart with two players from Fulham does not seem like the greatest of ideas.
But without them, I doubt Tottenham would be celebrating a famous 3-2 win at Old Trafford. Then of course there was Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris, when you consider how good Vertonghen really is, that was an amazing piece of negotiation, and Lloris? An absolute bargain. In my opinion Lloris is the fourth best goalkeeper in the world, not bad in a time with Iker Casillas, Gigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer. Then there were the moves for Moutinho and Leandro Damiao which unfortunately fell through. Villas-Boas then elected not to pursue his interest in Willian, a move which would have been a waste of money with Gareth Bale at the club. It is safe to say AVB knows what he is doing in the transfer market.
Thus far we have concluded with the right players Villas-Boas can achieve incredible things (a treble winning invincible season with Porto) and he is an expert at making the right signings. Sounds promising. Now there is one more thing to take into account; time. So far Villas-Boas has never had more than one season at one club as a manager. Now at Tottenham he has a three-year deal. But will time be on his side this time?
The 34-year-old is a pioneer of football and as I said before a visionary. His training methods are unique and frankly ingenious teaching players to think for themselves. This is done with various improvisational drills where defenders have to cope with a vast aray of different scenarios. If he was given time to impose these methods at Tottenham, with the quality already at White Hart Lane, the club could enter a new era.
With just a few additions in the coming years this could be the best Tottenham side since the double winning team of 1961. With the financial muscle of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea a double is a bit optimistic, however, I believe Tottenham will mount a genuine title challenge in the not so distant future and Villas-Boas will be the mastermind behind it.
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