Rewind to Saturday, September 2, 2012 at 4:45 local time in London, and you could see Andre Villas-Boas looking a morbid figure, seemingly looking to the heavens for some form of divine intervention. Then, the referee blew his whistle, and Tottenham had just drew lowly Norwich at White Hart Lane, courtesy of conceding another late equalizer, this time to Norwich’s Robert Snodgrass. Indeed, it seems Villas-Boas has picked up just where he left at Chelsea, failing to get a team full of talent to perform to thier maximum potential. While the fans continued to boo Spurs off the field at White Hart Lane, Villas-Boas must have surely come to the realization that the leagcy he built with Porto was fast fading. Tottenham do not look good by any stretch of the imagination, but there is still time for Villas-Boas to right the ship, save his job, and possibly still even lead Tottenham to Champions League qualification. Here are some things Villas-Boas must do to rescure Tottenham’s season.
The theme of the past two games has been for Tottenham to grind through games, take the lead late in the second half, and then cough it right back up late in the game due to a momentary lapse of concentration. However, the worrying thing for Spurs has been that they were utterly dominated at home, by West Bromwich Albion and Norwich no less. Indeed, had it not been for the heorics of Brad Friedel (who, somehow, now finds his position under threat by Hugo Lloris), and for the poor finishing of Peter Odemwingie and Grant Holt, Tottenham could be have been starting this new campaign with 3 defeats. Spurs seem to lack a winning mentality, the one which was certainelty present under Redknapp during the first half of last season, when Spurs were considered one of the contenders to win the Premier League. Villas-Boas must instill this winning mentality on the training ground, because when teams tend to have a winning mentality, they have confidence in themselves to close games out. Spurs seem to lack this confidence, evident in the lapses in concentration that allowed James Morrison and Robert Snodgrass to level. Perhaps if Tottenham had a winning mentality at the beggining of the season, we would be looking at Spurs having 6 points instead of a meager return of just 2.
Read the roster of Tottenham at the end of last season and read the current roster of this current team and you notice one thing; there have been a lot of changes. Over the summer, Rafael Van Der Vart, Giovanni Dos Santos, and of course, everyone’s favorite Spurs rebel, Luka Modric have all left the club. Villas-Boas has bought in the like of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Verthogen, Clint Dempsey, Hugo Lloris, Moussa Demeble have been bought in while Jake Livermore is well on his way to becoming a constant fixture in Tottenham’s first team. Villas-Boas has had the oppurtunity this summer to get rid of the excess baggage (Dos Santos, Van Der Vart) and the whiney prima-donnas (Luka Modric) while bringing in players he identified to play the way he wants the team to play. Yet, in all three matches Spurs have played, they have looked lethargic in thier build up play, seemingly passing the ball around the oppositions penalty area, gaining no penetration, and settling for a spontaneous long shot. This seems to be the case of Villas-Boas failing to so far establish an identity for the club. There seems to be no settled formation, style of play, or definite roles for players. While the loss of Modric was certainetly a big blow to Spurs, Dempsey, Dembele, and Sigurdsson posses more than enough creativity to make up for the abscence of Modric. Yet their role in the team is uncertain, perhaps contributing to the stagnation in Tottenham’s build up play. Villas-Boas must settle on a definite formation and playing style while conveying to his players what their exact roles on this team are on the training ground during this international break. Without a winning mentality or identity present within Tottenham, Villas-Boas will continue to be the loneliest man in London.
My preferred Tottenham starting line-up: GK: Friedel RB: Walker RCB: Kaboul LCB: Verthogen LB: Assou-Ektot RCM: Parker LCM: Sigurdsson, CAM: Dembele RW: Dempsey LW: Bale ST: Adebayor