'Pressure is agenda-driven'
Villas-Boas hits back at Sugar and voices fears over calculated moves against him
Andre Villas-Boas has made an extraordinary plea for more respect, 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 yesterday's 2-2 draw with Manchester United, Villas-Boas also responded to criticism of his tactics by Alan 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 Spurs supporters clearly also remains tense – there was loud booing yesterday when Aaron Lennon was substituted.
Villas-Boas, though, pointedly compared the fans' loyalty and right to question his judgment with that of 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," said Villas-Boas.
After last Sunday's 6-0 defeat to Manchester City, Sugar said that he hoped Alex Ferguson could be tempted out of retirement by Tottenham.
"I've struggled to understand AVB's tactics," said Sugar. "You wonder how we are going to get a goal. Four, five or even six games before (the 6-0 defeat to Man 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 (above) yesterday called for some perspective, although it is understood that the Spurs board have tentatively drawn up a shortlist of potential managerial replacements.
"The pressure that surrounded us this week was aggressive and agenda-driven," said Villas-Boas. "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, in the last 32 of the Europa League with 15 points and in a position in the league that is not decisive yet. So there should be some respect."
Villas-Boas later clarified that he did not suspect a general agenda against him but that he was specifically unhappy with some newspaper reports last week. One questioned the relevance of his past achievements with Porto and another suggested 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," he said. "We have sat above Man City before and 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 was encouraged by his team's response yesterday, 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 top."
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," he said.
"We have seen a couple of players have stood with their leg out to collide with bodies of the other players. 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 only using Jermain Defoe as a substitute, Villas-Boas is adamant that he wants to keep the striker for at least this season. "He is our top goalscorer," he said. "He has our support and I am willing to keep him for the future." (© Daily Telegraph, London)