x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Tottenham Hotspur coach does not think game against his former club at White Hart Lane will be decisive in title fight.

Andre Villas-Boas has seen his Tottenham Hotspur side win eight of their first nine games this season in all competitions. Darren Staples / Reuters
Andre Villas-Boas has seen his Tottenham Hotspur side win eight of their first nine games this season in all competitions. Darren Staples / Reuters

Andre Villas-Boas insists the result of Tottenham’s meeting with Chelsea will have little bearing on the race for the top four this season.

Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho today will be in opposite dugouts for the first time when Chelsea visit White Hart Lane in the Premier League.

Spurs have had an excellent start to their season, registering eight wins out of nine games in all competitions despite the loss of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.

The clash with Villas-Boas’s former mentor provides Tottenham with the opportunity to prove that they can cut it with the best this year, but the Spurs manager insists little can be judged from the outcome of the match.

“This game won’t have any significant impact,” he said. “It’s normally in the games against the other teams that can affect your position a little more dramatically.

“This is a big clash between two teams that competed hard for the Champions League spots last season.

“Whatever happens in this game, I’m not sure if it’s going to have a great impact on the classification at the end of the season, but we want to do well, build our confidence and win a game against a team that has won the European Cup two seasons ago, won the Europa League that we wanted so much last season.”

The meeting of master and apprentice adds extra spice to the occasion.

For seven years Villas-Boas and Mourinho were close, working together at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but the Tottenham manager has revealed he and his compatriot are no longer friends.

There is a feeling among Spurs fans that, after over £100 million (Dh591.7m) worth of investment this summer, their team could end up challenging for the title, rather than just a place in the top four.

Villas-Boas has played down such suggestions, but he does admit the title race is wide open.

“I think we could have the tightest Premier League in years,” Villas-Boas said. “We just have to continue getting the most amount of points as possible.

“It can change very quickly. At the moment I think we’re on a good run.

“No team is on maximum points so it means this year it will be very tight at the top. Manchester United are struggling for points but on the other hand they have played all of the top teams.”

Tottenham drew and lost in their two games against Chelsea last season, but the north London club’s recruitment drive this summer gives Villas-Boas a much better chance of overcoming his old team today.

Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado have impressed since joining the club, but it was one of the old guard who impressed on Tuesday night as Tottenham swatted aside Aston Villa 4-0 in the League Cup.

Meanwhile, Mourinho said he was refusing to get into a war of words with his former assistant over the source of their present acrimony.

He said yesterday: “I don’t discuss this with the media. It’s a personal thing. I don’t care what he says. I’m not here to do that.”

Mourinho contrasted his relationship with Villas-Boas to that with Louis van Gaal, whom he worked under at Barcelona before steering an Inter Milan side to beat a Bayern Munich team managed by the Dutchman in the 2010 Uefa Champions League final.

“I managed a Champions League final against a manager who was important in my career and taught me to grow up and I did it in a professional way. And that is a way you have to do it,” Mourinho said.

“I have had so many assistants in my career. I was always an open book to them and with the coaches in the academy.”

As to whether he would talk to Villas-Boas post-match, he added: “Will I go for a glass of wine with him? When people invite me I always go. I never refuse.”

* Agencies

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