Sky News’ trumpeted press conference with André Villas-Boas may have turned into a spectacularly underwhelming (and delayed) one-on-one interview, but it was none-the-less an interesting opportunity to hear from our new manager first-hand. Unlike his predecessor, AVB isn’t to be found throwing soundbites out of a car window somewhere in North London to anyone who will listen, so this was actually the first chance after his appointment to hear his own thoughts on the upcoming season.
Looking at his remarks, you can’t help but feel encouraged. There was no Redknapp-style smoke and mirrors on transfer targets, nor any downplaying of expectations. Plain and simple, the man wants to win titles with Spurs, and whether or not this plan ever comes to fruition, his ambition can’t be faulted. Here are a few choice soundbites from the interview, along with a few thoughts.
On taking the Spurs job:
“The dimension of the club speaks for itself; it was a massive, massive opportunity for me. After the Chelsea step, it was important to choose somewhere where I was surrounded with the right commitment and the right people, and I think I found it. I’ve learnt that, in a club, you have to trust the right people at the right time.”
No prizes for guessing who the last sentence was directed at; Messrs Terry and Lampard, stand up, please.
AVB mentioned that he’d spoken with several clubs after departing from Chelsea, so it’s also refreshing to know he isn’t just jumping at the first job offer to land on the table – this is a man who wants to be at the club. Additionally, his words hopefully forebode a much more harmonious relationship with the Tottenham hierarchy than he enjoyed at Chelsea; Levy has already shown himself to be more than willing to back AVB in the transfer market, and you’d think he’s likely to be given more than the half a season to impress. Although, let’s hope that we don’t even have to be bringing AVB’s future into consideration by that point.
On the coaching team:
“We’ve put together the right mixture of competence and the right sort of people.”
The Spurs coaching team for the upcoming season saw its latest addition today in the form of former player Steffen Freund. Freund joins as assistant head coach to Villas-Boas, after several years coaching the German national team at U16, U17 and U20 levels. His appointment means the coaching line-up looks something like this:
First Team Coach: Luis Martins.
Assistant Head Coach: Steffen Freund.
Goalkeeping Coach: Tony Parks.
First Team Fitness Coach: Jose Mario Rocha.
Head of Opposition Scouting: Daniel Sousa.
On the possibility of signing Andy Carroll:
“No, no, no.”
Poor Andy. Seems there’s not a lot of love around this week for his particular brand of clumsy-horse football. This response came as something of a relief; you can just imagine Redknapp being all over a loan move for Carroll if he was still managing the club. AVB did go on to confirm that they are looking at a number of strikers, with Adebayor definitely among them after his efforts for Spurs last season.
On ‘restoring his reputation’:
“It’s not a mission for restoring my reputation. It’s a mission to put Tottenham back on track with titles. Taking the club forward is about mixing it with titles and success, and hopefully I can bring it.“
After Redknapp’s ‘they’ve never had it so good’ rant last season, it was nice to see a manager not tittering at the prospect of Spurs challenging for the title, even if it is a distant one. The signings made since the appointment of Villas-Boas are ambitious, but also for the future – unlike Redknapp’s reign, there is a sense that AVB could build a legacy at Spurs, rather than signing players in the twilight of their careers as temporary fixes.
On Luka Modric:
“We respect Luka’s ambitions and his willingness to move on; I think Luka respects as well that he is an important player for the club. Ongoing discussions will continue until we reach an agreement which is sensible for each party. A player of this importance is not easy to part company with.”
In terms of Modric’s future, this seems to suggest it’s pretty much up in the air. Modric evidently still wants to leave, although it’s interesting that there hasn’t been anywhere near as many whiney ‘come and get me’ pleas in the papers compared to last summer. That said, maybe they’ve just got bored of listening to his spiel. Either way, it was made clear that Modric won’t be leaving on the cheap, and that he’ll only depart Tottenham if the offer received is good for the club as well as the player. If the rumours of Real Madrid’s £28 million bid were true, perhaps this was a case of heavy hint dropping.
“[He is not] the only target we are looking for; eventually, if something happens, of course he’s a player that we will look on with some interest.”
Little more than a confirmation of interest, but at least points towards the possibility of a deal. ‘If something happens’ probably refers to Modric rather than Moutinho; it’s entirely possible that a move for the Portuguese will only go ahead if Tottenham’s resident sulky Croatian eventually leaves the club. AVB was guarded on the identity of the other potential targets, but Hugo Lloris has recently been mentioned as a possible replacement for the ageing Brad Friedel, and Dortmund’s Lewandowski has also been (very tenuously) suggested.
One final point was AVB’s continued use of ‘we’ in the interview when referring to the club. Harry Redknapp was always very cautious of using the plural pronoun in interviews, but judging from responses on twitter, it seems to have worked excellently for Villas-Boas in terms of getting the supporters on-side from the off.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.