Friday 28 July 2017

No sympathy for AVB

IS it possible to feel sympathy for Andre Villas Boas?

Not from where we're sitting. It's not so much that he's been more than well compensated for his troubles over the past couple of seasons – his pay-off from Chelsea was a reported £13m alone – it's that if you swim with sharks, there's a good chance you'll get bitten.

Jacques Santini hired and fired. Martin Jol hired and fired. Juande Ramos hired and fired. Harry Redknapp hired and fired (after their most successful period in a generation). Villas Boas now joins the list of managers Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy has dispensed with.

If you get a chance this week check out Jason Burt's examination of the final days of AVB at Spurs in the Daily Telegraph. It's a largely sympathetic portrait of the Portugese. The thing that struck most us here at The Week In Sport about the picture Burt painted was the similarities between Spurs this year and QPR last.

Think of it this way. In the summer of 2012 QPR spent and spent big. They brought in a host of new players. It totally altered the dynamic of the squad. It put certain players' noses out of joint. It left a manager – Mark Hughes for QPR – struggling to knit together this, essentially, new squad into a functioning unit.

It proved beyond Hughes in 2012. It proved beyond AVB in 2013. We really should have seen it coming. Hardly anybody did. A lot of us were dazzled by the sheer numbers involved – an outlay of £107m, big name players. Lamela from Roma. Soldado from Valencia. Eriksen from Ajax.

On paper it looked inspired. How better to spend the Bale bounty than on a host of exciting new players? According to Burt, AVB would have preferred to keep Bale. Now we know why. It was beyond either AVB or Spurs to keep Bale at White Hart Lane, unfortunately. His heart was set on a move to Real.

The seeds of AVB's downfall were sown with the loss of Bale and all those signings – signings, which had the imperatur of Director of Football Franco Baldini more so than AVB's. Ever since he's been on a hiding to nothing.

Not too many managers would have be able to achieve what was being asked of him in the timeframe allowed. The chairman expected a title challenge, Baldini and AVB were hoping for top four. Something had to give.

The twin humiliations of Man City and Liverpool ultimately did for AVB, as they would have done for most managers, still it's possible to believe he was hard done by. Look at the table. They're in seventh with about a third of the season played, five points off the Champions League places, eight off the lead. That's not too bad. That's two points ahead of Man United.

Did AVB deserve better? Sure he did. Could he plausibly expect better? Not a chance, what's more he knew that as well as anybody else.


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