So, it took Daniel Levy and Spurs a relative age to confirm the news that every Spurs fan has essentially known for around a week now, but André Villas-Boas was finally confirmed today as Spurs’ new manager and the successor to Harry Redknapp. In many ways, once he came into the running, it was obvious that he would most likely get the job – none of the other candidates, such as Laurent Blanc, Roberto Martinez, and Ralf Rangnick, have the same sense of possibility about them. Admittedly, this possibility comes hand in hand with a risk factor – the press have been eager to point to AVB’s failings at Chelsea, and the coming season will be as much about him trying to hoist his name out of the media dirt as it will be about attempting to surpass Spurs’ achievements under Harry Redknapp. It could go horribly wrong. But it could also go so brilliantly right.
There’s no need to go into excruciating detail regarding Villas-Boas’s failed tenure at Chelsea, as they’ve been documented to death elsewhere – suffice to say, coming into an environment where several of the players would have remembered his time at the club as a scout, it was always going to be a struggle for him to win the respect of the dressing room. With the machiavellian scheming of Frank Lampard and John Terry, and the heavy hand of Roman Abramovich also looming large in the background, it seemed the odds were always against his success. His dismissal after around six months made a mockery of the claims on his appointment that he was to be tasked with a rebuilding process.
Of course, there’s always the risk that Spurs could make the same mistake. But our dressing room doesn’t have anywhere near as many egos crammed into it as Chelsea’s does, and there’s maybe not quite as much expectation as there was at Chelsea. Sure, AVB will still be expected to provide a top-four finish, but for Chelsea in the second half of the season that target was a downgrading of ambitions after a poor first few months. The Portuguese can probably still ill-afford to not be at least excruciatingly close to the Champions League places come next May, but hopefully he’ll be judged over the course of the whole season. There’s no doubting that he has management ability, as his time in Porto showed; it’s more a case of whether he can apply it successfully at an English club, second time around.
Villas-Boas also has an advantage with the squad he inherits. Spurs’ squad is younger than Chelsea’s was a year ago, and with incoming transfers such as Sigurdsson and Vertonghen looking to be on the cards, it should have more depth by the beginning of the season. The signing of a striker will still be a priority, with Jermain Defoe currently the only first team forward on the books, but the good news is that AVB is the kind of manager who may well be able to attract some top talent, despite the fact we won’t be playing in the Champions League this season. Casting our eyes over Hulk is probably asking for a bit much, but AVB will probably be more of a draw to continental players than Redknapp was.
All in all, it feels like a bold new era for Spurs. Under Harry Redknapp, Spurs felt capable, but at times pushed down by a glass ceiling. Whilst at the moment it’s only hopeless optimism, maybe André Villas-Boas will be the man to lead us to even greater heights. He might even take the Europa League seriously, and, though it’s a pale shadow of the Champions League, most Spurs fans probably wouldn’t say no to a trophy right this minute. There will probably be hiccups along the way – this is Spurs, after all – but if AVB is given the time to mould his team, we could be seeing the beginning of a Spurs era even better than that presided over by Redknapp.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.