Spurs manager AVB's rallying call helps turn up the volume at White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane
Wednesday 30 October 2013
All of the sound, none of the fury. If Andre Villas-Boas claimed on Sunday that disenchantment with the White Hart Lane atmosphere had "invaded" his squad for a long time, the crowd's response against Hull City in the League Cup was immediate. The stadium was thoroughly raucous by kick-off.
Within five minutes, most conspicuously, the supporters were singing the manager's name and chanting about "AVB's blue-and-white army". That was also considerably quicker than on Sunday.
It represented a great endorsement of Villas-Boas's stance, as Darren Alexander, of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, told The Independent would be the case before the game. It also meant this could be chalked off as a clever move from the manager rather than a bad gamble.
One argument on Sunday was that Villas-Boas was risking his previously fine relationship with the Spurs fans because of an issue that was growing, but did not yet warrant this kind of gripe. It seemed a curious target at this time. Instead, the bond was arguably only strengthened. The atmosphere was certainly improved. By 15 minutes, the home fans were imploring "Andre" to "give us a song". Of course, the real question is how long it will last.
One figure inside the Hull camp suggested before kick-off that they would attempt to agitate the crowd, and consequently the team, by frustrating Spurs, as in Sunday's league game. That did not happen initially. Villas-Boas's side seemed to respond to the more fervent atmosphere, producing more energetic football. It is no coincidence – if also a reflection of the kind of chicken-and-egg dynamic this is – that this was both the best atmosphere and home performance since the first half of the 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Unlike on Sunday, too, Spurs struck early to take the sting out of Hull's tactics and add more frisson to the atmosphere.
On 16 minutes, Gylfi Sigurdsson raised the roof with a goal that almost ripped the net off the posts. The decibel level went past 100 for the first time and continued until through half-time.
Then, on 53 minutes, came the first real moment of tension and test of that atmosphere as Hull produced an equaliser. Previous concessions like that might have brought a worrying silence, even murmurs of discontent. This time, with moments like that the kind of incident Villas-Boas was most concerned about, the home crowd immediately began to sing.
Every Tottenham challenge was met with a roar, every attack accompanied by a ripple of excitement. One corner was soundtracked by an expectant collective stamp of feet.
Hull could feel the noise. It was up to the Spurs team to provide the response of their own. Villas-Boas could this time have no complaints with the crowd.
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