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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Second (manager of the) season syndrome

'This is going to be a piece of pi- oh'

Following the undignified scenes at the weekend (we haven’t heard ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ sung with such venom since a Christmas party we were at a couple of years ago), it was good of Tim Sherwood to prove that the new dawn at Spurs is going to look suspiciously like the dusk that preceded it. SHERWOOD OUT!

Largely controlling the game, failing to convert chances and ultimately getting beaten at home by West Ham United for a second time this season is presumably not what Daniel Levy had in mind, but that, unfortunately for him, is exactly what he got. You could cite Spurs’ missing personnel in defence, but then you’d have to cite West Ham’s changes too, of which there were a few. You could cite Tim Sherwood’s version of the managerial innovation to change Spurs’ fortunes to be recalling Emmanuel Adebayor – who admittedly scored a goal – and playing 4-4-2, but then you’d have to cite West Ham’s match-winner Modibo Maiga, normally such a goal repellent that he should really play in defence. You could cite – as has been cited – the tiring effect of Villas-Boas’ intensive training sessions on the players, but then you’d also have to look at the manager who sent his team out to play at 100 miles an hour three days after a 5-0 home defeat in which Liverpool pressed them to within an inch of their lives.

Ahem. We’re not Spurs fans or Villas-Boas apologists, before everyone’s knickers get contorted. We’re just intrigued by the scenario Spurs have found themselves in and on what planet Daniel Levy is actually living. And as long as there a people mindless enough to criticise Villas-Boas for ‘dismantling one of the greatest Spurs team ever’ (Jamie Redknapp, ladies and gentlemen!), we’ll probably carry on discussing the more idiotic reflections on this sort of stuff.

It’s most tempting to wonder whether, over the summer, Levy began to believe his own press a bit. Tens of millions of euros landed in Spurs’ bank account, which if not already spent by a man seemingly hell-bent on winning the ‘we’ve got more attacking midfielders than you’ battle with Chelsea, were quickly splashed out before the season began. It’s the kind of attitude that leads to Magic Spongers’ ‘quiet’ nights out leading to complete clusterf*cks because we make the mistake of withdrawing £60 each and as a result feel compelled to spend the lot before going home.

Make no mistake, this season was always going to be a pretty thankless job for Villas-Boas. Has anyone successfully integrated so many players into a squad, let alone a first XI? Exciting signings, of course, but the basic feasibility of creating a new team and continuing to win games against other sides that, dare we say it, have strengthened only in areas they actually needed to, is pretty non-existent. At least in Villas-Boas there was a manager who had been at the club for a while and wouldn’t need to take HIS time to get used to it. Until he was sacked and a new manager required after just four months.

It seems to us that the key to an upturn in your club’s fortunes is not to do all your ‘transitioning’ at once. Manchester United, whether by luck or judgement, have managed to keep their playing squad together and some of the time, the players at least look like they know what they’re doing. There’s also the fact that coverage is starting to get even more miniscule, zoning in on individual games as indicative of entire seasons.

Should United lose their next game, it’ll be question time again, albeit a shit question time where David Dimbleby screams hysterically for an hour about how Moyes has never won anything and a panel of tabloid journalists end up either in tears or with nosebleeds or both. Alternatively, if they win, everyone will just pack up and go home with the exception of Clive Tyldesley who will stand naked in the street proclaiming ‘name… on… the… trophy!’. Such is life in the Premier League these days; where a title challenge can turn into a crisis within a three-game week.

Spurs are now in a position where they have to do all their transitioning, both playing and managerial, at the same time. And if it was a lot to take on for Villas-Boas at the start of the season, it’s going to be much more difficult for a manager coming in at the busiest time of the year – when teams are most likely to be dropping points all over the place – to take charge of a squad in some disarray and generate some kind of momentum (especially if they lose in the league cup, say, to someone like… dunno… West Ham?). Oh.

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