Wednesday, 27 November 2013

AVB's people problem

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is facing a crisis of some sort at White Hart Lane. After having off-loaded the club's best player in the usual Spurs way and getting the most money you could for that same player, AVB promptly bought seven players of varying position and quality to help with the club's bid for a top four finish and the ultimate goal of returning Champions League football to the other North London club.

However, for want of a better word, this season has started to become a bit unstuck for the Lilywhites following a second consecutive Premier League defeat.  And when we say defeat a 6-0 away lose to Manchester City is still only a defeat as only three points were lost.  Of course pride and confidence will take a bruising for those players involved, and AVB himself looked a little bit more than stunned at the game's conclusion as he zombie-walked down the tunnel looking for some consolatory handshakes from City staff.

Yet not all can be put at the door of AVB, he has at his disposal a squad that in essence has two starting XIs in them and perhaps too many players to keep happy. Of course, his stubborn-ness in maintaining his 4-2-3-1 formation is causing all manner of problems for Roberto Soldado up front; who too often finds himself isolated from play and with little or no chance of making an impression on the game.  His only open play goal, away at Aston Villa in a 2-0 victory came from one of the only occasions when Spurs passed forward and with fluidity.  It came from harassing Villa defenders forcing an error and in two passes giving Soldado a shooting opportunity in the opposition penalty box which he duly converted with aplomb. 

AVB prefers the slow-tempo build up offense of passing teams to death and force openings by moving defenders out of position.  Unfortunately, by being so stubborn in his formation and tactics, opposition have grown accustomed to this practice and drop deep saying to Tottenham try and break us down, knowing that the pass will go sidewards or backwards wasting Soldado's runs into space with no ball forthcoming.

However, whilst a lot has been made of Bale's absence, AVB has been scuppered by the loss of Danny Rose at left-back to injury.  This has forced Jan Vertonghen to play in that position when his best role is at centre back, the role that got him into the Premier League Team of the Year last season. Younes Kaboul's return to centre back after two injuries last season, has not gone well and Michael Dawson looks to have lost a yard of pace. 

An injury to Capoue in the middle of the park has meant that Sandro and Moussa Dembele play more often, whilst Paulinho is not showing the Brazilian flair expected of him.  The elevation of Andros Townsend to the right flank has been good, yet he has evolved into a one trick pony coming onto his favoured left foot too often to attack when he should maybe deliver. Lewis Holtby is all guile without any end product and now Christian Eriksen has an ankle injury.  Nevermind his refusal to even use Jermain Defoe in his system, despite the fact the striker can score goals and has been reduced to taking on European teams instead on Spursday nights.

The constant changing of personnel is doing the team no favours, AVB needs to stick to his best starting XI and give those players the confidence to take the team forward. This Sunday they are at home to Manchester United, a team likewise going through changes and dropping points.  However, both teams are only two points off of fourth place.  All is not lost for the teams, although judging by betting patterns and rumour mills it may be a whole lot more than three points that Villas-Boas may lose come Sunday evening.

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