Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Villas-Boas stands firm as pressure starts to rise

Andre Villas Boas
Andre Villas Boas

John Percy

Andre Villas-Boas has defiantly insisted he does not fear for his job at Tottenham Hotspur, but he is under serious pressure to revive the club's season.

Villas-Boas was in combative mood as he prepared for the Europa League game with Tromso tonight and adamant that he has the full backing of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, after the 6-0 humiliation at Manchester City.

Levy met with Villas-Boas on Monday in a scheduled board meeting and did not discuss the Portuguese's position but is understood to be growing increasingly concerned at the club's start to the season and the methods of the manager.

Spurs sold their talismanic winger Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in the summer but gave Villas-Boas almost £110 million to restructure his squad. However, record signing Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho have all failed to impress on a consistent basis.

Despite such a lavish summer spending spree, Spurs have also lost at home to West Ham and Newcastle and are eight points behind league leaders Arsenal.

Villas-Boas' relationship with his squad is also a factor for the Spurs board, who believe his detached demeanour is threatening to alienate players.

He endured similar accusations in his brief spell at Chelsea, but his comments following the disastrous defeat at the Etihad Stadium, when he said they should be "ashamed," did not prove popular with the squad.

Spurs will face Manchester United this Sunday and another convincing defeat will crank up the tension at White Hart Lane.

In a spiky press conference in northern Norway, Villas-Boas claimed the board are behind him as he prepares for what could be a crucial few days.

"I have the confidence of the board. I have the confidence of my players," he said. "The only conversation we (he and the board) had recently was two or three days ago, very, very briefly about the game.

"It was an ordinary meeting. Will he (Levy) back me in public? No. No. No. That's not his style, and neither do I ask for things like that."

This was Villas-Boas fighting his corner, taking on allcomers. As he pointed out, he has been through far worse in his career, specifically during his 256-day reign at Chelsea that came to an end in March 2012.

He added: "I was not treated properly (while at Chelsea) by people and I got various opinion-makers and column writers that wrote so many lies that if I had any chance that I was liable to sue, that is something that would give me extreme pleasure.

"But you know, it is part of the job, it is something that I have to take on."

It seemed almost a relief to him when the regular business of a manager -- the future of one of his players -- was brought up. Jermain Defoe is said to be on the verge of agreeing a move to Toronto in the MLS.

WONDERFUL

"I am happy with his performances," he said of the England international. "It's been a wonderful season where he has beaten the club's European goalscoring record. He is a fantastic player for us. We are happy to have him on board."

Yet conversation swiftly moved back to Villas-Boas' future in the rather incongruous setting of the Alfheim Stadium, 217 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

"Normally to big teams when things like this (the 6-0 defeat to City) happen they happen once every 10 or 20 years," he acknowledged.

"All people who were involved in this, all of us feel sad and ashamed for having taken part in it. We are not far off from the Champions League spots, so it can all change dramatically."

Villas-Boas has left a number of first-team stars at home, with the likes of Defoe, Hugo Lloris, Sandro and Kyle Walker in London rather than Tromso. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

TROMSO V TOTTENHAM,

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