Tottenham manager AVB snipes back at Lord Sugar who questioned his tactics
Andre Villas-Boas claims his 'human values' were attacked after Tottenham's 6-0 thrashing by Manchester City.
Andre Villas-Boas made an extraordinary plea for more respect on Sunday, claiming that Tottenham Hotspur were victims of an agenda and that his integrity and “human values” had been unfairly attacked during the past week.
After this 2-2 draw with Manchester United, Villas-Boas also responded to criticism of his tactics by Lord Sugar, the former Tottenham chairman, and confronted what he perceives to be unjustified and excessively personal attacks on his managerial style and past record.
His relationship with many Tottenham supporters clearly also remains tense and there was loud booing when Aaron Lennon was substituted.
Villas-Boas, though, pointedly compared the fans’ loyalty and right to question his judgment with that of Lord Sugar. “It’s their team, their passion and they don’t trade it for anything else, not like Alan Sugar who trades it for money,” the Portuguese said.
After the 6-0 defeat against Manchester City last Sunday, Sugar admitted that he hoped Sir Alex Ferguson could be tempted out of retirement by Tottenham. “I’ve struggled to understand AVB’s tactics,” Sugar said. “You wonder how we are going to get a goal. Four, five or even six games before [the 6-0 defeat to Manchester City] you couldn’t see where the goals were coming from.
“The formation that AVB plays, I don’t understand at all. My dream would be that my good friend Sir Alex Ferguson will get itchy feet in about a year or so and decide he wants to get back into management.”
Villas-Boas called for some perspective over recent results, although it is understood that the Tottenham board have tentatively drawn up a shortlist of potential managerial replacements.
“The pressure that surrounded us this week was aggressive and agenda driven,” Villas-Boas said. “You see there is obviously an agenda that goes against Tottenham’s results.
“We have to remind people that we are on the brink of the semi-finals of the League Cup, the last 32 of the Europa League with 15 points and in a position in the League that is not decisive yet. So at the moment there should be some respect.”
Villas-Boas later clarified that he did not suspect a general personal agenda against him but that he was specifically unhappy with some newspaper reports. One questioned the relevance of his past achievements with Porto and another suggested that he had looked for others to blame for poor results.
Asked if he felt that he was not getting respect, Villas-Boas said: “No, I don’t think so. A couple of people insult my integrity, my human values, my professionalism, insult the success that I have achieved in other clubs and I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s a lack of respect and an attack on a person’s integrity.”
Villas-Boas then compared Tottenham’s position, in ninth, to Manchester United, who are only eighth. “You can easily compare situations,” the Portuguese said. “We have sat above Man City before and above Man United before and we haven’t seen any kind of these personal attacks to somebody, so I think that is unfair.”
When challenged by one reporter on why he regarded the reports as “personal”, Villas-Boas said: “I don’t need to explain. I think you have always chased people, you attack people. You don’t attack them by the front, you attack them sitting when you write. You attack competence, you attack the integrity of the person, their human values and you don’t even know that person.
“It’s something that obviously comes with the 6-0 thrashing but more important is the team and the response and I think the players did that in great, great fashion.”
Villas-Boas did receive words of personal backing on Sunday from Gareth Bale, the former Tottenham winger. “I have been watching quite a lot of the matches,” Bale told BT Sport. “They have been playing some good stuff.
“He should be given time. He is a great manager, he showed that last year. They are going through a little bit of a bad patch but I am sure he is a good enough manager to pull everybody through.”
Villas-Boas was encouraged by his team’s response on Sunday with goals from Kyle Walker and Sandro twice putting them into the lead. “Today we were much more objective in our possession than we have been before,” he said. “We deserved a bit more. We were very unlucky to suffer the goals in the fashion we did.
“It was a good response to the heavy defeat that we took at Man City. Not perfect because perfect would have been to win the game but a good response from a group of players that want to do well. It keeps us in touch with the group at the top and gives us the motivation to go forward.”
Villas-Boas felt that United’s penalty, when Danny Welbeck was tripped by Hugo Lloris, was not clear-cut. “It’s difficult because Hugo doesn’t raise his hands,” the Spurs head coach said. “The ball is going to the side. We have seen a couple of players have stood with their leg out to collide with bodies of the other players. So I think it’s difficult. It’s a decision we have to accept.
“I think the ref wasn’t in a good position. He sees it from too far off but when you stick a leg out, put the ball forward, you can easily collide with the opponent’s body.”
Despite again using Jermain Defoe only as a substitute, Villas-Boas is adamant that he wants to keep the striker at Spurs for at least this season. “He is our top goalscorer in all competitions,” he said. “He has our support and I am willing to keep him for the future.”