Villas-Boas comes out fighting ... but he needs wins, not wars

Correspondent's Column: The Tottenham boss has every right to defend himself, but would be better served focusing on getting points on the pitch, and not in press conferences
Greg Stobart
         Goal UK Correspondent


Given the pressure he has found himself under, it is understandable that Andre Villas-Boas should come out fighting, demanding more respect and lambasting those who have questioned his “integrity” and “human values”, including “agenda” driver Alan Sugar.

His post-match press conference was more extraordinary for the fact that he sought out individual journalists while the cameras were still rolling, claiming that “personal attacks” had been written about him.

It is a brave move by Villas-Boas to fuel the fires with the media ahead of a week in which Tottenham face two away games, against Fulham and Sunderland, that could be crucial for his future.

7/2 Tottenham are 7/2 with BetVictor to finish in the top four
While it has played well with Tottenham fans, the danger for Villas-Boas is that it points to someone who has let the pressure get to him, morphing back into the thin-skinned, irascible and paranoid manager we remember from his Chelsea days.

The 36-year-old was perfectly entitled to air his grievances, but he should have done it privately. He would probably admit today that he was sucked into an overly emotional response to his critics.

The Sugar jibe, in particular, was particularly difficult to comprehend, a random attack from a man who came out windmilling after a stressful week following the humiliating 6-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Sir Alex Ferguson was the master of using the media to create a ‘them and us’ mentality within the club and perhaps that was part of Villas-Boas’ thinking. Close ranks, make everyone in the outside world the enemy and foster team spirit. His outburst has certainly gone down well with the supporters who the Spurs manager was insulting a few weeks ago.

But it won’t make any difference to Villas-Boas’ job security, and the most important thing is that he backs it up with results. The reason he found himself in this situation in the first place is because Spurs were thumped 6-0 and sit ninth in the Premier League having targeted a title challenge at the start of the campaign.

Lose to Fulham on Wednesday and the knives will be out again and Sunday’s press conference seen in a new light. Is he defending his honour or cracking under the pressure?

Villas-Boas needs to blank out the critics. Forget about respect, forget about image, and work out a way to get the best out of this expensively assembled squad.


The news that Daniel Sturridge faces up to eight weeks out with an ankle injury could also be the news that defines Liverpool’s top-four hopes this season.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were woeful without the striker in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Hull, the limitations of their squad also exposed by injury to playmaker Phillipe Coutinho.

Liverpool have started the season very well, with Sturridge and Luis Suarez firing them to fourth in the table, seven points behind leaders Arsenal.

But as Villas-Boas would tell Rodgers, it would only take a couple of defeats for their position in the chasing pack to slip and for the Reds to find themselves in a mid-table position.

"There's no doubt the quality in our squad, with all due respect, isn't big enough to cope with two big players like that missing [Sturridge and Coutinho]," was Rodgers’ verdict on Sunday.

So it is understandable that the Northern Irishman will be pushing for January improvements to the squad.

Last winter, Sturridge and Coutinho arrived and made an instant impact. With Liverpool well positioned to break back into Champions League, the American owners need to provide similar backing this season.

With Champions League places up for grabs, it could make the difference between another mediocre campaign and a lucrative return to Europe’s elite competition.


I hate it when players refuse to celebrate against their old clubs - but at least I could understand it in Aaron Ramsey’s case this weekend.

The Welshman scored twice against his boyhood club Cardiff, where he spent nine years and received such a reverential welcome from the home fans that some even applauded his goals.

Fair enough, but in general players would be better off showing respect for the clubs who pay their wages and the supporters who follow them around the country every week.

I thought it was great when Robin van Persie slid on his knees to celebrate scoring against Arsenal last month. He owes the Gunners fans nothing, especially when they give him endless abuse.

Gareth Bale did it, too, when he scored a last-minute winner for Tottenham against Southampton last season.

There is a line to be drawn, as with any celebration, and I’m not advocating Emmanuel Adebayor-style goading. That could be dangerous.

But Scott Sinclair once refused to celebrate after scoring against Chelsea, for whom he made a whopping eight first-team appearances.

The muted celebration fad needs to stop.