Villas-Boas takes another swipe at Abramovich
Andre Villas-Boas has dug the knife deeper into his previous employers at Chelsea by describing Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy as more committed than Roman Abramovich with superior footballing knowledge.
A week into his new job, having swapped west London for north on a three-year deal, Villas-Boas, who has made no secret of his disdain for the way he was dismissed after eight months by Abramovich, says he has every faith his new boss will stand by him as he attempts to carry on where Harry Redknapp left off.
Insisting he has joined a more unified club with fewer factions, Villas-Boas said: "Since I met the chairman I've been impressed by the way he goes around his business. He's a person who knows what he's doing, he has football understanding and wants to build something. He is involved on a daily basis with his knowledge. That's the main difference. The structures that surround Tottenham are extremely good. Everyone knows they have to play a part in any success and are not looking for scapegoats."
No proper explanation has still been given for why Redknapp was shown the door after twice steering Spurs into the top four, their best finishes since the Premiership began. But Villas-Boas believes he can at least match Redknapp's achievements and, ideally, improve on them.
He is under no illusions about the expectations and has made it clear he wants Spurs, whose last silverware was the League Cup in 2008, to compete in four competitions, including the much-maligned Europa League. He admits, however, that winning the league title, at least in his first season, will be a tall order. "It's obviously a tremendous task due to the competition and a huge step to bridge the gap, but if we want to go forward we have to give it a go. Four years is a long time without a trophy given all the investment. The chairman wants continuous success and that means putting trophies in the cabinet."
The 34-year-old Portuguese may have been a surprise choice for many Spurs fans given his baptism of fire at Stamford Bridge. But facing the media at Tottenham's new state-of-the-art training ground last week, he displayed a steely edge, allied to hurt pride and a fierce drive.
He says he has thought long and hard about what happened at Chelsea, has learned from his mistakes – not least in terms of freezing out players – and, crucially, was "meticulous" in deciding his next step to make sure he was joining the right club. Tottenham, he argues mischievously, has far greater tradition than Chelsea and is more suited to his style of management.
"It was never in my mind to get back so quickly. Is Tottenham a better fit for me? Put it this way: I think there is more a sense of belonging here. The club is full of tradition and this is what I have to admire. Chelsea has its tradition too, but it has changed dramatically since 2003 when the club was bought."
And a sense, he acknowledges, that he is on trial. "The departure of Harry might leave some fans reluctant but that always happens when there are managerial changes because fans create empathy. But I have arrived much better prepared. All of us are emotional people. We all respond to sentiments of revenge but it would be a wrong step if I take things that way. This football club is far more important than myself. I want to make sure we move forwards not backwards but not make it some kind of personal mission."
Although he is convinced he is now in the right place to show what he can do, the former Porto boss must be aware of Tottenham's track record in sacking managers. He is their ninth in the last 15 years.
"This club has a reputation for the way they play. Okay you could never say they are the Barcelona of England but you can say there is a wonderful history regarding attractive football. I know there are responsibilities that come with this job and I will be the first to accept failure if that's what happens. Obviously Harry left the club with great success and it's understandable that to do better is what is demanded. Whether I can do that, we will see next May."
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