A lot of faith has been put in Andre Villas-Boas. Perhaps a little unfortunate to miss out on the Champions League gravy train in May, this season he was given a squad that is probably title-challenging quality but has the lower expectations of finishing in the top four.
Twelve games in to the season, it might seem to soon to pass judgement on Villas-Boas. But his team are trending downwards: Spurs are conceding, not scoring and simply not performing.
This isn’t just about being thumped by a very good Manchester City team. This is about losing at home to West Ham and Newcastle, being second best to Arsenal and struggling to break down lesser teams like Hull, Cardiff, Swansea and Crystal Palace. The squad, as a whole, is as good as we’ve seen at Spurs in a long time, perhaps since the sixties. But, as a team, there is a lack of creativity and charm.
Against City, Spurs had more possession – as they regularly do in games – registering 53% to 47% and recording almost as many attempts on goal as City (although only half as many on target). But when that possession takes place so frequently around the center circle, the value is negligible.
Some fans are probably ready to stop making excuses now.
- “The team needs to gel” shield is something that logically loses its relevance as the games tick by. The performances are worse now than they were two months ago.
- “Erik Lamela is adjusting to a new life, he’s had some personal difficulties.” Really – and I’m being kind – he’s just not impressed.
- “Roberto Soldado is not getting service.” Well, yes. But he’s not scoring goals with the opportunities he’s getting either. As far as I’m aware the ball, the goals and goalkeepers tending them are the same size here as they are in Spain.
Andros Townsend is talented but contributing nothing of value this season. Jan Vertonghen looks like he’d rather be anywhere else than left-back. He’s a red card waiting to happen. Loyal servant Michael Dawson who AVB almost sent to QPR about 15 months ago only to turn around and hand him the captaincy and a new contract, is getting exposed more frequently now. He doesn’t look like one of our best two central defenders.
If you have players under-performing throughout your squad, there has to be questions asked of the man who coaches them. Tottenham’s predictable, slow-building, passionless football is not working. I’m not sure where it could work. Perhaps in a country where all the other teams are more predictable and slower. But in the Premier League it’s doomed to failure.
And there’s more at stake here for AVB than just his job. A second sacking in three seasons would seriously undermine his credentials as a top flight boss.
If the West Ham defeat was strike one, then the Man City battering was strike two. Combine a floundering team with unconvincing results and a third humiliation in a short period of time, and Daniel Levy might decide its time to put his ruthless hat on again.