The end of the season along with Tottenham’s failure to make the Champions League has brought the inevitable questions and rumours on Gareth Bale’s future at Tottenham. Two reports in yesterday’s papers offered contrasting views on what will happen during the summer. Gareth Bale is every top club’s Number 1 target. After the season [...]
Posts Categorized: Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas has impressed this season, his debut as Tottenham manager, finishing on a record 72 points and taking Spurs to a Europa League quarter final. Spurs just missed out on Champions League qualification, finishing 1 point behind North Lond…
After finishing fifth in 2012-13, Tottenham Hotspur head into the summer transfer window looking to find the players who might help them push on next season.Wholesale changes are not a must for a club who just recorded their highest ever Premier League…
Paolo Di Canio says getting seven points from his eight games in charge at Sunderland was a ‘miracle’
The Spurs boss is confident Europa League football will be enough to keep Gareth Bale as he prepares to bolster his squad this summer for a renewed pursuit of the top four
The Portuguese believes that his side are still capable of landing their summer targets despite missing out on Champions League qualification to Arsenal on the final day
• We must do it in the Tottenham way, manager adds
• ‘The others have great squads and will continue to add quality’
André Villas-Boas has urged the Tottenham Hotspur board to invest strongly in the squad over the summer to help the club close the gap on the Premier League’s top four, which they narrowly failed to make this time out.
Tottenham beat Sunderland 1-0 on Sunday to finish with a club-record Premier League haul of 72 points. Agonisingly, it was not enough for Champions League qualification, as Arsenal won at Newcastle by the same scoreline to take the final spot in Europe’s elite competition.
Villas-Boas’s disappointment was etched into his features. “We got ever so close but the other top teams will do their job in transfer window and we must do ours, in the Tottenham way, scouting properly and looking for good grabs in the summer to make it a stronger squad.
“Getting 72 points serves as a good reference for the future but not making it means that next season, to compete at this level, we have to make probably more than that. The others have great, great squads and will continue to add quality. Next year we’ll have to be extremely competitive.”
The 35-year-old boss reveals he hopes to use the recently-crowned Barclays Player of the Season to lure big names to White Hart Lane during the summer
The Portuguese manager has assured Spurs fans that he has plans to transform the team regardless of whether or not they secure Champions League football next season
• Manager feels it would help secure world-class signings
• Roma’s Franco Baldini is favourite for the job
André Villas-Boas says that he wants Tottenham Hotspur to appoint a technical director in order to make them bigger players on the transfer market. The Roma general manager Franco Baldini, who previously held a similar post alongside Fabio Capello in the England setup, is the favourite for the job.
The Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is an advocate of the two-tier continental-type structure, which can aid the continuity of player recruitment and, having inherited David Pleat as the director of football upon his arrival at the club in 2001, he went on to employ Frank Arnesen and Damien Comolli as the sporting director.
The results were mixed but Villas-Boas says that it would benefit him to work with such a figure, particularly one with the “experience of dressing rooms” rather than, for example, a boardroom executive. He worked productively with Antero Henrique at Porto.
Villas-Boas refused to say whether Baldini might be appointed at Tottenham, where Levy has not replaced the former chief scout, Ian Broomfield, who was central to player recruitment. Broomfield left to join Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers. Levy sacked Redknapp as Tottenham’s manager last summer.
“The chairman and I have been outlining the route ahead for what we want to do in terms of the club structures and, hopefully, the arrival of somebody else in the structure for the recruitment side – a technical director,” Villas-Boas said. “Hopefully we can take those steps forward. It’s not up to me to confirm anything.
“The most important thing is the relationship between the person that bridges the gap between manager and board, and that he is able to be focused on the technical side of things. [It should be] someone who has experience of dressing rooms, represents the club, and is able to link up with players and agents.”
Villas-Boas made it clear that he was fully supportive of the appointment, and he suggested that he might be more comfortable purely as coach, who could concentrate on work on the training pitch.
“I think of a more European style of structure, of a head coach and then the functions of a manager will be handed up to a different person,” Villas-Boas said. “It’s something that works. Since the first day, I told the club that it’s somebody who is extremely important.”
Tottenham are notorious for leaving some of their transfer deals to the last moment, and the overlap between the start of the season and the closure of the summer window has, on occasion, been unsettling. “Ideally when you set up for the first game of the season … to have put the team to bed would be the ideal situation,” Villas-Boas said.
Tottenham will pursue “quality” additions regardless of whether they qualify for the Champions League and Villas-Boas had praise for the Barcelona striker David Villa, with whom he has been linked. “I tried to move him to Chelsea [last season],” he said. “He’s a world-renowned striker,” he said.
TOTTENHAM boss AVB believes his former club will be favourites in the race for the Premier League next season
Spurs must hope this is their year as for the third time in seven seasons, finishing ahead of their north London rivals goes down to the final day of the campaign
The Spain striker could well be on his way to White Hart Lane if the Portuguese coach gets his way
As Chelsea’s players and fans celebrate in Amsterdam following their late, dramatic victory against Benfica, Bleacher Report looks ahead to next year’s final and predicts the teams who could battle it out for the 2013-14 Europa League.While…
The Spurs manager is hopeful that the FA Cup winners can open the door for his side to sneak ahead of the Gunners in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot
Andre Villas-Boas has been optimistic in his comments on Gareth Bale’s future. He has been joined by former Tottenham managers, Harry Redknapp and Martin Jol in encouraging the player to remain with Spurs. Gareth Bale’s future is a topic for constant speculation. It is intrinsically linked with Tottenham’s success or failure to achieve Champions League [...]
The Portuguese boss paid tribute to his side’s powers of recovery after they weathered an early Potters storm to earn a win which keeps their Champions League hopes alive
Andre Villas-Boas’ call for Tottenham to give Gareth Bale another new contract will have the full backing of every Spurs fan. The Head Coach is wanting to put an end to all speculation on his star player’s future at White Hart Lane. As the season draws to a close, there is the immediate speculation about [...]
• Playmaker missed draw at Chelsea with hamstring injury
• ‘Everything is still possible’ manager says of top-four place
Mousa Dembélé is yet to train this week but André Villas-Boas is hopeful the Tottenham Hotspur playmaker will be available for the Premier League fixture at Stoke City on Sunday.
Villas-Boas said that Dembélé, who damaged his hamstring in last weekend’s home win over Southampton and missed Wednesday’s draw at Chelsea, would rejoin the squad for Saturday’s session and he was confident he would be able to prove his fitness. The manager refused to indicate whether Dembélé would start in a game in which victory appears essential for the club’s Champions League hopes.
“Dembélé is still in recovery, in which we have sent him to Holland,” Villas-Boas said. “But he will come back ready for selection. He is up for selection and it depends on the XI. He will come back fully fit. He trains fully with the team on Saturday.”
It is the time of the season when players must battle through niggling injuries – Villas-Boas revealed that the striker Emmanuel Adebayor had had “some pain in his knee in recent fixtures” – and, also, when the permutations of the run-in become maddening. After the draw at Chelsea, Tottenham have surrendered control of their top-four destiny and they need either Chelsea to fail to beat Aston Villa and Everton or for Arsenal to drop points against either Wigan Athletic or Newcastle United.
Villas-Boas considered how Villa might feed off the emotion of Stilian Petrov’s retirement or Everton, likewise, in David Moyes’ final match as the manager, although he accepted it was highly unlikely that Chelsea would slip up. Tottenham’s hopes appear to rest on Arsenal faltering: their neighbours could face a Wigan team motivated by an historic FA Cup triumph or a Newcastle side who also need a result to avoid relegation.
“What doesn’t change is that we have to do our job,” he said. “The Premier League can change in a weekend so it’s not the time right now to reflect on what we have done wrong. Everything is still a possibility.”
Villas-Boas’ debut in English football came at Stoke on the opening day of last season, when his Chelsea team drew 0-0. He is wary of their physical power and he will consider whether to switch Jan Vertonghen to left-back and recall Steven Caulker in central defence.
“Stoke play with a totally different nature to the rest of the Premier League,” Villas-Boas said. “They are very aggressive and direct, they are in your face. It is a style that has brought them success so it is not up to me to condemn them. But it is easier to cope with now I have played them a few times.”
Amid speculation regarding the Welshman’s future at White Hart Lane, the Portuguese manager wants the midfielder to put pen to paper for a new deal to ward off potential suitors
Its now ‘squeaky bum time’ for the three London teams fighting for the remaining two Champions League spots
Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 in a crucial Premier League clash on Wednesday, a result that leaves the final Champions League places wide open
While Gylfi Sigurdsson stole the headlines for Tottenham with his late equaliser at Chelsea, it was Emmanuel Adebayor who inspired the Tottenham comeback to salvage a point which keeps alive their Champions League campaign. It has been a poor season for Adebayor at White Hart Lane. After last season’s success with Spurs, much was expected [...]
The Portuguese manager still has work to do if his Spurs side are to reach the levels of his former club Chelsea
Football’s capacity to surprise should never be underestimated. On a night that ended with Tottenham playing catch-up in the conjoined North London slow bicycle race towards that final Champions League place, there was the rare and perhaps even unique spectacle of the home fans routinely booing both managers: their own soon-to-be-ex, Rafa Benítez, and their last-but-one ex, André Villas-Boas. Perhaps Chelsea fans are simply inured to it all by now, choosing instead to save time and simply boo everybody in a suit, past or present.
Beyond the boos this was a brilliantly entertaining 2-2 draw featuring many examples of the kind of fluid attacking play Villas-Boas’s team must produce if it wishes to compete at Champions League level, albeit for Spurs pretty much all of it involved the team in blue shirts. Indeed, it was a slightly confusing night all round as Spurs extracted a late point with a display that was high on grit and yet emerged with a sense that the season may now have tipped decisively away from them.
Afterwards Villas-Boas spoke about Tottenham’s “determination and ambition”. This ambition may be slightly concerning for Villas-Boas, who is currently sitting a space below the league position that saw Harry Redknapp sacked last season. If this was a tactical triumph of sorts for Villas-Boas, whose substitutions changed momentum in the last 15 minutes, it was also a match encircled by ex and soon-to-be-ex-Chelsea managers (like being President of the United States, it feels like you never really stop being an ex-Chelsea manager).
With Villas-Boas, Benítez and the half-glimpsed spectre of José Mourinho lurking ever closer, of the three ex and interims it was Villas-Boas for whom there was most at stake. It has been a season of periodic, if occasionally stuttering, progress for a manager who really could do with an upward spike on his personal CV to dispel the sense that, for all his progressive methods and air of endearing B movie charisma, he cannot amount to anything more than a Europa League Mourinho. This is entirely unfair, of course: in a saner footballing world Villas-Boas, who is a very talented manager, would simply be left to nurture a team, perhaps given a Ferguson-like bedding-in period in which to bloom. But then, this is the Premier League and for Spurs this match had an air of, if not quite make or break, then certainly of a defining moment when it comes to setting the barometer on Villas-Boas’s first season.
Determination aside, Spurs can point to the isolated moments of quality that brought their goals, both with their origins in Emmanuel Adebayor, who had his best game of the season. Villas-Boas had sent his team out in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with the world’s most indolent all-action lone striker looking animated in the opening minutes and providing a brilliant individual moment to equalise Oscar’s opener. Since signing for £5m last August, Adebayor has lapsed at times into a parody of forward languor, but his goal in the 25th minute was a reminder of the high-ceilinged talent that lurks behind that kitten-sized attention span. Fed by Lewis Holtby, Adebayor carried the ball 30 yards, all spindly galloping legs, and curled a sublime shot over Petr Cech and into the far corner.
Either side of this Chelsea were often seductively rampant, a team of visibly superior craft in midfield. It’s hard to blame Villa-Boas for this: he might even claim some credit for Chelsea’s fluidity. Again, though, it was Spurs’ porous centre that let them down.
Chelsea’s second goal was beautifully finished by Ramires, an instant toe-poke finish on the run after lovely play by Fernando Torres. But neither Scott Parker, again looking like a worryingly immobile central midfield dalek, nor Tom Huddlestone tracked his forward run.
And for Benítez, the other half of that graceless double booing, these are almost rather carefree end days at Stamford Bridge. How delicious it would be if this brief Benítez spring –a European final, a strong league finish, plenty of fine attacking play from a happy-looking team – comes in time to be something that Chelsea fans might even look back on with a little fond nostalgia.
Certainly there was evidence in the composed menace of Eden Hazard and the usual floating excellence of Juan Mata of the levels to which Tottenham must aspire, a team of pace in strictly delineated areas and one roving smart gun of a midfielder. When Gareth Bale doesn’t play, Spurs are a team of workers, but they fought to the end against superior opponents. And yet on a night of the multidirectional managerial booing, it seemed fitting that the real winners should be elsewhere. Mourinho, if it is to be he, will inherit a team that look, more than at any time in the last year, like they might yet be cut from champion cloth. Arsenal have it in their own admittedly rather tremulous hands to finish fourth. For Villas-Boas, a season of sporadic gains might just be tipping away at the last.
• Spurs manager ‘extremely pleased’ after 2-2 draw at Chelsea
• Rafael Benítez disappointed by Chelsea’s failure to score third
André Villas-Boas urged Tottenham Hotspur’s supporters to “keep the faith” after his team surrendered the initiative to Arsenal in the pursuit of Champions League qualification despite twice coming from behind to frustrate Chelsea.
The stalemate, secured by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s late equaliser, left Spurs a point off fourth place with two games to play. Their manager, making his first visit to the club that had sacked him in March 2012 after only 256 days in charge, was left to hope their London rivals drop points in what remains of the campaign.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “The Premier League is completely unpredictable and the next fixtures, with the emotion of the last few games of the season, can be decisive. Keep the faith. Our situation has changed because destiny is not in our hands, but all we can do is win the next two fixtures [against Stoke and Sunderland] and hope somebody slips up. I’m still extremely pleased by the performance.
“It was a great example of Tottenham’s determination and ambition. We increased the tempo and played really well: it was difficult to control Chelsea’s creativity but we had attacking strength and created our own chances. Our focus is on us doing our job in the remaining fixtures and in the Premier League anything can happen. Keep the faith.”
Those sentiments were echoed by his players after the late equaliser meant Tottenham, despite only three wins in eight games, have secured 14 points in the last 10 minutes of games since the turn of the year. “We showed fighting spirit again,” said Michael Dawson.
“Okay, the top four is out of our hands, but someone might do us a favour when they play Arsenal. The draw keeps things going.” Villas-Boas hopes to have Moussa Dembélé restored to fitness after a thigh injury in time for their game at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
Chelsea, too, still have work to do if they are to secure their top-four finish though a victory against either Aston Villa or Everton in their remaining games will be enough given their superior goal difference over Spurs. Even so, Rafael Benítez’s frustration was clear with this a missed opportunity to secure the required points. Chances were passed up, most notably when Ramires slipped as he prepared to convert the home side’s third, to leave the Spaniard admitting fatigue had played its part in his side’s late toils. This game was their 66th of a draining campaign.
“We didn’t have the legs,” said the interim first-team manager. “Their second goal was offside but still, we had to defend it better. At the end we were a little bit leggy and were too open, and they were pushing and attacking, and our final pass was a problem.
“We had some players tired, especially in the wide areas controlling their full-backs. We couldn’t hold the ball, so it was not easy. But we had to finish the game off. They pushed and pushed, that’s fine, but we had to find that third. We had chances on the counter-attack to score the third goal, but there was no finish.”
The manager’s decision to substitute Oscar for Yossi Benayoun six minutes from time provoked a chorus of boos from the home support, the disaffection apparently aimed more at Benítez. John Terry later apologised to the Israeli player on behalf of the club for his vitriolic reception.
“I just concentrate on my football,” said Benitez, when asked about the fans’ reaction. “We were weak in the wide areas and a bit tired, and I didn’t see any other wingers on the bench to rectify this. That was my idea [for the substitution].”
Spurs picked up a crucial point at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as Gylfi Sigurdsson struck late on, but they must now rely on other clubs to secure a Champions League berth
It’s almost got to the stage where it’s win or bust for our Champions League qualification hopes as we head to Stamford Bridge tonight.
With near half a team out injured it’s going to be tough with Chelsea looking revitalised coming i…
Tottenham Hotspur boss André Villas-Boas says returning to Chelsea for a crucial Premier League clash on Wednesday is nothing special
The Portuguese has changed his ways since becoming the seventh manager to be sacked by Roman Abramovich, but he also finds himself in an altogether more suitable environment now
The Tottenham boss has stoked the fires ahead of his return to Stamford Bridge for Wednesday’s crucial clash in the race for Champions League qualification
• Manager says his former club lack style and identity
• ‘If you don’t have style, it makes you invisible in football’
André Villas-Boas has accused Chelsea of playing “invisible” football and lacking style or identity since the days of José Mourinho as he prepares to return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his sacking by Roman Abramovich last season.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager, who needs victory in Wednesday night’s derby to fire his hopes of Champions League qualification, which could in turn thwart those of his previous employer, conceded that Chelsea had done “what matters” in modern football with their recent run of trophies.
Chelsea went on to win the Champions League last year after Villas-Boas’s dismissal in March, not to mention the FA Cup, but it was clear that he felt they had made compromises in terms of their playing style which impacted on the achievement.
“In the end, it’s brought them success and sometimes success is what matters in football – independent of the style,” Villas-Boas said. “I have a different opinion. I think if you don’t have a style, it makes you invisible in football. Only teams with style succeed. But, in the end, success is normally what matters in modern Europe.”
Villas-Boas was asked to clarify what he meant by the comment regarding the “invisible” football. “Style of play … when things are attractive,” he replied. “Obviously, what is attractive to me is maybe different to the style of football you might find attractive.
“We saw the wonderful team that Mauricio [Pochettino] is building at Southampton [at White Hart Lane on Saturday]. Although the change from Nigel [Adkins] to Mauricio is difficult to take because of what Nigel has achieved for that club, the reality is Southampton is not invisible in terms of their football. Their football is absolutely outstanding this season.”
Villas-Boas’s first spell at Chelsea between 2004-2007 saw him work as Mourinho’s opposition scout, when the club enjoyed tremendous domestic success and, according to Villas-Boas, had a clear identity. He feels that it has since proved more elusive, and one of the reasons might have been the high turnover of managers.
Abramovich, the owner, has sacked five of them, including Villas-Boas, since he removed Mourinho, taking his total to seven. In addition, Guus Hiddink and the incumbent, Rafael Benítez, have worked on short-term contracts. Villas-Boas was endeavouring to impose his style on Chelsea only to be sacked after eight months. After his unveiling as Tottenham manager last summer, he said Abramovich had “quit” on him and failed to “put up to the things that he promised“.
“If you remember, the [Chelsea] team of 2004 was an absolutely deadly machine of football but in a different way,” Villas-Boas said. “[It was] great, great counterattacking football and one of the great teams in the country. There are various types of teams … teams built along great creative players and these Chelsea teams have the ingredient to be able to play this type of football. Barcelona with [Pep] Guardiola is probably the best team for playing football in recent years, in my opinion. But it changes from person to person.”
Villas-Boas spoke in glowing terms of the abilities of the some of the players he worked with at Stamford Bridge, including Juan Mata, who was one of the signings that he pushed for, and Frank Lampard, who is one goal shy of equalling the all-time Chelsea scoring record. But he was almost matter-of-fact about the perception that Lampard had not supported him. “Yes, but his ability and quality was never in doubt,” Villas-Boas said. “That [the lack of support] does not really matter right now. There have been other managers in this position before and, in the end, you study what you have done and become better and adapt. Only by learning from experiences are you able to deal with them better the next time.”
Villas-Boas also responded to the Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s claim that Tottenham did “not have enough quality” to finish in the top four. “I think it would be a little more tolerable if it had come from a genuine Arsenal fan,” Villas-Boas said. “But it is coming from an Arsenal player, an Arsenal player who is probably only passing by to another club, or he’s not going to stay there for life. In the end, does he mean exactly those words from the heart? He doesn’t, for sure.
“He’s entitled to say what he wants. It would be a little bit more realistic from a famous Arsenal fan to come forward with those words. From an Arsenal player, I don’t think it has that kind of effect on us. I wouldn’t say an Arsenal fan that has just arrived in that club in the last couple of years is entitled to have so much hatred towards Tottenham, like he seems to have.”
Chelsea could struggle to sign Falcao and another Europa League campaign could ruin a Mourinho title tilt, while Tottenham may lose Gareth Bale but pick up damaging psychological scars
Chelsea might still get Mourinho but would Falcao follow?
Roberto Di Matteo was candid in his assessment of the club’s incoming transfer business last summer. Without the Champions League triumph, the former manager said, which overrode the travails in the Premier League to put them back in Europe’s elite competition, they would not have been able to sign Eden Hazard or Oscar. There would be no bailout this time if they were to fall short of the top four and it would not be outlandish to suggest that they could lack the trump card to attract the likes of Radamel Falcao and Hulk, the glamour attacking targets. José Mourinho is expected to be a different story. The manager is set to return from Real Madrid and, having initially worried about the possible lack of Champions League football, it no longer appears to be a concern. You suspect he might even enjoy the novelty of the Europa League, particularly as it would not be his fault. The club’s pursuit of Marouane Fellaini from Everton should also be unaffected but that of Falcao could become complicated.
A Europa League campaign is no basis for a title challenge
The demands of Thursday-Sunday football ought not to be a massive problem but there is something that does not quite scan for Premier League players, something that is mildly disorientating. Rafael Benítez, the interim Chelsea manager, has a more scientific explanation. With only two clear days before a Sunday league game, there is only time for a warm-down and a warm-up, with nothing in between for a more constructive training session. The situation can be better in the Champions League in terms of preparation for a weekend league fixture, particularly as some of the ties in the competition are played on Tuesdays.
The club would feel the pressure of financial fair play
In the wake of Didier Drogba’s winning penalty in last season’s Champions League final, Chelsea estimated that the triumph was worth up to £100m. It allowed them to splash the cash on the transfer market. But a theme of recent times at Stamford Bridge has been the surgery on the wage bill and if the lack of Champions League football would principally affect prestige, the related loss of income would also constrict spending as FFP comes into force. Gate receipts would surely drop, too, in a potential Europa League group phase campaign, if the far-from-sold-out home crowds in this season’s knockout rounds of the competition are any guide.
Gareth Bale’s future
In the eyes of his peers and the football press, Bale has been the best player in England this season. In the eyes of Zinedine Zidane, the Real Madrid ambassador, the Wales forward has been the best player in Uefa club competition. It is safe to say that Bale is ready to grace next season’s Champions League and it is also known that he is desperate to do so on a regular basis, partly because he is realistic about his chances of playing in major international tournaments with his country. André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, has gone from saying that the club need a top-four finish to keep Bale to presenting a defiant stance that the player will stay regardless. The noises from those close to Bale in recent weeks have softened regarding a possible transfer. But without Champions League football there would be temptation, at the very least and Spurs may come to feel vulnerable. The loss of their superstar would be unthinkable.
End-of-season shortcomings become pathological
In an off-cut from Saturday’s interview in the Guardian, the Tottenham left-back Benoît Assou-Ekotto said that, under Harry Redknapp, the moment that the season’s final whistle sounded, “the muscles just went because you would have played an amazing number of games”. This time out, Villas-Boas has rested and rotated more but there has still been a wobble over the past two months which has recalled the slumps that gripped to calamitous effect under Redknapp towards the end of the previous two Premier League campaigns. Villas-Boas has admitted that, rightly or wrongly, the season will be judged on whether a top-four finish can be secured. Failure stands to bring psychological scars.
Another Europa League campaign would feel like a slog
One of Villas-Boas’s tricks on his debut season at Tottenham has been to rebrand Europe’s second-tier cup competition in the eyes of the supporters. By naming strong teams and making it clear that it was a trophy he wanted to win, he generated momentum and excitement. But it would surely be a tougher sell were he and the club to return to a Europa League group featuring opposition from, say, Greece and Slovenia, as happened this season. With their slick new training ground and the progress (albeit slow) on a new stadium, Tottenham feel like a club that is who are going places. They enjoyed a taste from Europe’s top table in 2010-11 and they are ready for another bite. Contesting the Europa League would be like running to stand still.
• More ‘tolerable’ if from an Arsenal fan, says Spurs manager
• Villa-Boas prepares for first return to Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur’s manager, André Villas-Boas, says criticism by the Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will have no impact on his side’s quest for Champions League football, which continues at Chelsea on Wednesday night.
All three London clubs are locked in a battle to finish in the top four of the Barclays Premier League, with the showdown at Stamford Bridge set to play a key part in the final outcome. Following Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, which followed on from Spurs victory over Southampton, Szczesny claimed their bitter rivals “do not have enough quality” to finish ahead of them.
Villas-Boas, though, insisted those comments were misplaced – and questioned the status of the 23-year-old, who has been at Arsenal since 2008, to make such bold remarks.
“He is entitled to his opinion. It is absolutely fine. You don’t expect love from an Arsenal player to Tottenham player. If it touches a bit lack of respect, it is normal in a rivalry,” the Portuguese said. “I think it would have been a little more tolerable if it had come from a genuine Arsenal fan.
“Coming from an Arsenal player, he is an Arsenal player who is probably only passing by to another club, or who is not going to stay there for life. In the end if he means exactly those words from the heart… he doesn’t, for sure. I wouldn’t say that an Arsenal player that has just arrived in that club for the last couple of years is entitled to so much hatred towards Tottenham like he seems to have.”
Spurs head to Stamford Bridge in fifth place, but just two points behind Arsenal and three from Chelsea.
Villas-Boas, 35, was sacked by Chelsea in March 2012 only nine months after they had paid Porto some £13m compensation to bring him back to the club where he worked as part of José Mourinho’s coaching team. The Portuguese, however, insists there will be nothing “special” about the return tomorrow which will be the first since his departure.
“It is a club which I have gone past,” said the 35-year-old. “I have good and bad memories like everyone else, but it was a period which did not finish the way I would have liked. Before I was manager there I was in José’s team and I had some wonderful years there. Probably the ones that I have spent there as a manager aren’t that special, so in that sense, as I have said previously, it doesn’t have that kind of effect on me. It is not very, very special.”
Villas-Boas added: “I have made it public several times, that I have done things a bit differently here based on experiences of the past, and they include good and bad experiences.”
Villas-Boas’ replacement Roberto di Matteo was also dismissed, despite guiding the club to FA Cup and Champions League glory. Chelsea’s interim manager, Rafael Benítez, has endured his fare share of testing times this season, but has managed to move Chelsea back up into third place and into the final of the Europa League and Villas-Boas has some sympathy for the Spaniard.
“He made his frustrations public, which probably gave him an edge to work more comfortably, because people in the end understood their behaviour was also threatening the team’s balance,” the Tottenham manager said. “For any manager who has to go past those frustrations for the fans, it is difficult, so I have great respect for that.”
The Arsenal keeper claimed that Spurs lack the quality to finish in the top four ahead of their crunch clash against Chelsea on Wednesday, to which the Portuguese takes exception
The Spurs boss revealed how the experimental role was first tried in pre-season and suggested that while it has been successful it is not necessarily a definitive change