x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Premier League best and worst: A virtual reality at the Lane

What kind of game is Andre Villas-Boas playing at Tottenham? asks Paul Radley, and injuries not exclusive to just you, Wayne Rooney.

Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, is yet to see his side win a league game this season. Sang Tan / AP Photo
Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, is yet to see his side win a league game this season. Sang Tan / AP Photo

Worst first impression - AVB

We all have done it. You take a nondescript team to the top on Championship Manager and you think you know it all.

So the next time a big job comes up in the real world, you try your luck and send them your CV with all your computer game credentials laid out.

Most people would be happy to get some letterheaded paper back from the club saying: "Stop wasting our time." Yet somehow, it seems, Andre Villas-Boas got the job at White Hart Lane.

Despite a lack of any genuine achievements in the real world, Villas-Boas has been handed the job at two of England biggest clubs over the past two years.

It is still early, but there are real signs that the Portuguese coach is just as out of his depth at Tottenham Hotspur as he was at Chelsea.

According to one prominent testimony, Harry Redknapp, his predecessor, does not even know how to turn on a computer. He is probably useless at Championship Manager.

But he knew how to get the best out of real footballers. AVB needs to learn how that is done, and quick.

Best first impression - Carroll

When Sam Allardyce took over as the manager of West Ham United, many feared the East London club's preferred passing game was about to be made redundant.

When he then signed Andy Carroll from Liverpool at the end of the transfer window, the West Ham way officially joined the dole queue.

That is not all bad. Hammers fans will not mind their team slinging it in the mixer from now on if the results are as dramatic as they were on Saturday.

It took all of 53 seconds for the Upton Park club to start to profit from a loan deal which looked like a steal as soon as it had been signed.

The towering Carroll won a flick on and the ball ended up at the feet of his pal Kevin Nolan, who volleyed a crisp opening goal to set the platform for victory over Fulham.

Snootiness over long-ball football has rarely been as acute as it is today. But for all the false 9s in all the world, there is still a place for a target man centre-forward.

Best turnaround - Tevez

"Carlos Tevez epitomises the spirit in this Manchester City side," the commentator said as the clock wound down on City v Queens Park Rangers: The Sequel on Saturday. Not so long ago, that would have been a major indictment of the side from Etihad Stadium.

When the Argentine striker plays as well as he did at the weekend, you wonder what was ever going through his mind when he went on strike last season. With Sergio Aguero injured, Tevez's workload while leading the line for the champions has doubled of late.

Last term, Roberto Mancini struggled to make his diva centre-forward do any work at all, let alone more.

His appetite for the game is clearly back, though, judging by his effervescent display against QPR. Dare we say it, he was so good, it brought to mind memories of his pomp across the city at Manchester United.

Worst review - Drogba

As news broke that Didier Drogba had suddenly and unexpectedly been made a free agent by his Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua on Saturday evening, Gordon Strachan offered his verdict.

"He is not the player he once was," reckoned the former Celtic manager. Well, no, the passage of time does tend to catch up with people. But how bad can he suddenly have got after a few months training in China?

The last time he played a game for a Premier League club he gave a masterclass to win the Champions League final for Chelsea against Bayern Munich. That was in May.

Since he became available, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool have all been said to be interested in him.

For those whom missed out on what they wanted during the frenzied last minute shopping of the transfer window, the Ivorian could provide a lifeline.

Best review - Diaby

While he waits for the nasty wound on his thigh to heal, Wayne Rooney has clearly got some time on his hands. Yesterday he filled it by watching the football and tweeting some qualified praise for Arsenal.

"[Abou] Diaby is a player, don't know why he doesn't play more," the injured Manchester United striker wrote during Arsenal's 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

By the end of the game, Rooney's review had been retweeted nearly 6,000 times. He probably got a few reminders, too, that injuries are a curse not confined to Manchester.

"I really want to play football, but last year unfortunately I could not," Diaby said in his post match television interview. "Now I am back."


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