Villas-Boas passes the point of no return at Tottenham 0

Will Quinn reflects on Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking…

Football fans are notorious for over-reacting, especially to heavy home defeats. They also tend to see sacking the manager as the universal remedy to anything that goes wrong at a football club. Bearing that in mind, there is a case to be made that AVB’s sacking at Spurs was a little harsh. They’re still only five points from fourth, with a friendly fixture list for the rest of December, and are doing well in the cup competitions. They’ve just spent millions of pounds on new players, presumably with a view to playing in the manager’s system. It makes no sense to let him go now. And they’re suffering from some brutal injury problems, having just had to play a crucial fixture with only one fit centre-back.

But it’s a little obtuse to focus only on yesterday’s dropped three points and argue that the game wasn’t as significant as it seemed. The match mattered more than that, because of how badly it reflected on AVB’s system. The point isn’t that the idea behind the system is inherently wrong- it works well enough for Barcelona. It might even have worked at Spurs, given enough time. But to do so it would have needed to maintain the confidence of the players, fans and upper management. After yesterday, there was no one left who still believed that his tactics would come good eventually. How was he supposed to convince his defenders to keep playing a high line after seeing it so ruthlessly exposed?

AVB’s selling point was tactics. That was supposed to be his strength. He wasn’t a ‘wheeler-dealer’, a motivator or a disciplinarian. His job was to mould his players into a coherent system, something unique that gives Spurs an edge over more orthodox teams. Another manager could have simply dumped the system that wasn’t working, at least temporarily, and go back to basics. But with AVB, if the tactics don’t work, what’s the point in having him?

He’s had a lot of unfair criticism in his time in England, and a lot of neutrals (myself included) wanted to see him succeed in spite of the press. But yesterday he passed the point of no return. There was no longer any real chance of him being a long-term success at Spurs, and Levy had no choice but to cut his losses and let him go.

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