Why the pressure is already on AVB

Posted by Dan Fitch

It’s fair to say that Andre Villas-Boas is already under some pressure at Tottenham. He shouldn’t be, of course. Any reasonable person would recognise that the implementation of AVB’s tactical strategy and long-term vision was always going to take time to bed in at a club where the players had been used to the minimalist tactics and short-termism of the Redknapp regime.

Yet we live in an age where plenty of unreasonable people are given a voice through the mediums of radio phone-ins, social media and blogs. Where once you had to display some expertise in a subject to become a critic, these days there are no entry requirements.

You can also throw into the mix the fact that a generation of Spurs fans (in which I include youngsters and adults from overseas) haven’t known what it is like to support a really bad Tottenham side. Even some of the fans who have been around for years seem to have short memories. Put simply, we’ve been spoiled by our success.

Because one loss and two draws is actually a quite typical start to the season for Tottenham. I remember the days when our league season would pretty much be all over by October and the only question to ponder was whether we’d finish ninth or tenth.

The difference with this team is that we have the players to turn things around, so patience is a virtue we can afford. We’re not going to get relegated, and at this stage of the season our ambitions are still there for the taking.

Nevertheless, for all my logic, I know that Spurs fans will turn on AVB pretty quickly if we don’t start winning games. White Hart Lane can be a hard place for a Tottenham side that isn’t playing well. As a set of fans, we are often guilty of needing the team to galvanise us into action when really it should be the other way round. If we’ve nothing to cheer, the old place can soon turn eerily quiet.

If the fans haven’t quite made the decision to turn on the Portuguese, the media in England are already firmly committed to the cause. There are two reasons for this. The first is that a large number of journalists in the UK are disciples of Harry Redknapp, primarily because he was always ready to wind his car window down and give them a quote about just about anything. Harry was good for business, and they’re bitter that he’s gone.

The second fact is also a business decision. The big story for the press isn’t AVB slowly taking Tottenham to new heights over a number of seasons. The big story is AVB making exactly the same mistakes that he did at Chelsea, losing the dressing room and getting the sack.

Which is why we’ve already seen them twisting the situation with Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris to try and stir up trouble. As an outsider looking in, it seemed to me that Villas-Boas made some big errors at Chelsea - but I’m not worried about him making the same ones at Spurs.

For one, the job he was given at Chelsea was an extremely difficult one and Roman Abramovich must take a large portion of the blame for appointing someone who Chelsea’s pampered egos were always going to struggle to respect. Things are different at Spurs. The team is a young one and there is no one in the squad who wields the sort of dressing room power of a John Terry or Frank Lampard.

That said, there are different ways to lose a dressing room. There might be no one at Spurs who is going to stand up and directly challenge the manager, but there are plenty who might down tools if they’re not happy, much in the same way that a talented squad gave up on Juande Ramos.

So yep, the pressure is definitely on AVB already - and the very best way that he can shift it is to start picking up results to keep the fans, media and players off his back. Three points at Reading next week would be a decent start.

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