martedì 17 dicembre 2013

Villas-Boas confusion costs him the job

André Villas-Boas has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur following Sunday's 0-5 home defeat to Liverpool. The Portuguese leaves White Hart Lane after barely 18 months in charge. Villas-Boas' position had been under scrutiny since Manchester City had beaten Spurs 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium three weeks ago, despite their seventh place in the Premier League. Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, and the technical director Franco Baldini pointed the fingers against team’s poor display on the pitch despite Tottenham spent around £109m over the summer on seven new players to complete AVB’s wanted turmoil. Some players also questioned Villas-Boas favoured 4-2-3-1 formation having wanted the manager play with two forwards. Spurs have managed three points, at home to Chelsea and United and away at Everton from six games against last season's top seven teams, and showed an inability to score, as they netted just 15 goals out from 16 league games. Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela failed to justify their fees of £26m and £30m. Villas-Boas tactical decisions too have been under scrutiny. He was a victim of his own too much cerebral approach. After the 6-0 defeat to Manchester City, Villas-Boas changed his gameplan for the following game, a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. He asked his side to play much deeper to absorb pressure with two strict lines and with the midfield protecting the defence. Against Liverpool, Villas-Boas came back to his favoured high defensive line, the same tactic that lead Chelsea to end abruptly his tenure with him in March 2012. His central duo of Étienne Capoue and Michael Dawson was easily outplayed by Luis Suárez and Liverpool. Despite his high spending summer, Villas-Boas never founded a viable backup for his left-back, Danny Rose. So he often lined up there Jan Vertonghen, a natural centre-back. Against Manchester City, while Villas-Boas cannot be blamed for Jesús Navas's opener, scored after 13 seconds, many questions can be raised about Portuguese’s game plan as he left his defenders exposed, particularly Vertonghen, constantly uncomfortable as left back in a high line. Other times, Spurs dominated possession but rarely it worked as Tottenham were often caught out in the transition. It happened against Arsenal, when Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud consistently broke in behind Spurs' defensive line. Sandro, Mousa Dembele and Paulino rarely offered enough support to Soldado. Offensively, Tottenham's attacking quartet rarely combined in the final third.  They never showed the cohesive movement which was a trademark of Villas-Boas at Porto, where he favoured a front three featuring a left-footed striker out on the right in Hulk, utilizing Falcao as a mobile central forward and adding Silvestre Varela, a natural winger, on the left. Instead, at White Hart Lane he lacked of a true goal scoring winger since Gareth Bale left. In Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon, Villas-Boas had two cutting inside wingers with no goalscoring potential. And he never founded a real left winger as neither Lennon or Townsend can play there. His Spurs never played a clear brand of football, sometimes performing a direct style and some others putting  more emphasis upon ball retention. Tactical confusion reigned also about AVB’s starting XI choices. The central midfield featuring of Sandro, Paulinho, and Dembele was expected to be starting trio but Villas-Boas overloaded the middle of the pitch with too many options making continuous changes, sometimes using Sandro, Paulinho and Lewis Holtby, some others employing Christian Eriksen or Gylfi Sigurdsson as attacking midfielder. The failed attempt to sign Joao Moutinho didn’t help. Up front, Soldado's  lack of movement didn’t help to provide him nice balls and the forward too wasted some good scoring chances during the way. Villas-Boas seemed to hadn’t learnt Chelsea lesson. He also lacked of the strong support system he had at Porto. He went to evolve Spurs on his second season in charge. Instead, he made a radical overhaul that requires time to be made. But club’s management didn’t like the idea of a season of transition. Villas-Boas will now need to review his whole coaching philosophy and tactical approach.

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