x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The conspiracy to unsettle Andre Villas-Boas

It could be ascribed to jealousy, conservatism or even good old-fashioned revenge, but Andre Villas-Boas would be forgiven for thinking that English football has it in for him.

Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham have four Premier League matches in a row. Thanassis Stavrakis / AP Photo
Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham have four Premier League matches in a row. Thanassis Stavrakis / AP Photo

It could be ascribed to jealousy, conservatism or even good old-fashioned revenge, but Andre Villas-Boas would be forgiven for thinking that English football has it in for him.

His appointment in place of the well-connected Harry Redknapp was always going to be met sceptically in certain quarters.

Quick-fired at Chelsea is not meant to be followed by stewardship of the Premier League's fourth best team. Old managerial hands were gleefully questioning Villas-Boas's credentials before he even had one training session with his full squad.

According to Gordon Strachan, last seen flirting with the Championship relegation places at Middlesbrough two years ago, people were conned into believing every coach with a foreign accent was "a tactical genius".

Starting home matches with two holding midfielders, partly because most of his new attackers had been signed in deadline week, Villas-Boas was too defensive, the team prone to basic errors. Much worse was to be laid on the Portuguese.

The decision to not immediately install a last-minute signing in goal turned into a ludicrous soap opera in which it was claimed Villas-Boas never wanted to sign Hugo Lloris in the first place.

The truth was that the France goalkeeper had been earmarked by the coach before he had even signed his own White Hart Lane contract. Continuing with the in-form Brad Friedel as No 1 was standard man management.

Why alter a functioning defence and place unnecessary pressure on an expensive recruit until Lloris had time to adapt?

By his fourth fixture, Villas-Boas had "three games to save his Tottenham job", according to one English Sunday newspaper.

Tottenham proceeded to dismantle Reading for a first win of the season, then come back to beat Queens Park Rangers at home. No matter.

On the morning of Villas-Boas's hardest task so far - an away trip to Manchester United - The Sun newspaper lead on supposed "showdown talks" between coach and players over "gruelling double training sessions" and his "negative style of football".

According to a source, there had been no double sessions in Villas-Boas's regular-season training schedule, and not one player had complained about tactics. Could the timing of the article be in any way related to Redknapp's employment as the newspaper's star columnist?

Villas-Boas knows the best way to answer his enemies is to win. Unfortunately for the antis, he is doing precisely that.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE