Andre Villas-Boas refuses to play Scrooge as Tottenham's festive spirit grows

Manager approves 'two or three' Christmas parties for players after climb into the top four

Giuseppe Muro
Wednesday 05 December 2012 18:47
Andre Villas-Boas congratulates Jermain Defoe on his second goal
Andre Villas-Boas congratulates Jermain Defoe on his second goal

Andre Villas-Boas is happy for his players to let their hair down over the festive period and insists the club’s Christmas party will not derail Tottenham’s push for Champions League qualification.

Queens Park Rangers cancelled any festive celebrations because they think it will give the wrong impression to fans following their disappointing start to the season.

It is understood that decision was made by the players without the involvement of new manager Harry Redknapp, who banned Spurs from having a traditional end-of-year party last season after the squad secretly arranged a trip to Ireland in 2009.

West Ham were the first Premier League club to hold a bash this year and their trip to Dublin ended with injured striker Andy Carroll allegedly assaulting a photographer outside a nightclub. He and his club deny the allegations and no arrest was made.

But Villas-Boas is confident a Christmas party will not be a distraction at a time when Spurs face a run of six games in 23 days, starting with the Europa League fixture against Panathinaikos.

Villas-Boas said: “It is normal because it is part of our group spirit - we will try to get two or three in! We will try to gather the group, have dinner together and go on from there.

“I don’t think results are related to the Christmas party. I am not sure if those kind of situations affect performances. You never know but I don’t think that is related to the Christmas party.”

Villas-Boas’ rigid man-management style was criticised during his ill-fated spell at Chelsea but he already appears to have won over the dressing room at White Hart Lane.

England defender Kyle Walker admits it did take time to adapt to the 35-year-old after he replaced Redknapp in the summer but said: “All the lads are getting used to him now.

“It was weird for me at first. I worked with Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa and he is only the second foreign manager I have had. I am used to Kevin Blackwell, Neil Warnock and Harry Redknapp.

“All of a sudden, foreign managers have a different way of playing football. But you have to adapt to it because you want to do well for the manager and for the club.

“He is not one to start raising his voice and chucking things but you can tell when he is angry. You know he is disappointed because he knows you can do better.”

Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League following Saturday’s 3-0 win at Fulham and need a draw against Panathinaikos at White Hart Lane to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The last 32 is the stage when teams eliminated from the Champions League enter the draw and Villas-Boas, who won the competition with Porto in 2011, said: “We firmly believe it is more than possible to embrace this competition and take it as seriously as we have taken it.

“Most of our good performances this season were after Europa League games, which is very pleasant to see. We firmly believe that this competition can be approached in a different way.

“Hopefully we can go through, that’s our main focus. It would mean a lot to the way we have embraced the competition. We have taken it very seriously and we have done excellently. We are very proud in how we approach the competition and we want to go through.”

Villas-Boas also confirmed that Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto could both return from injury for next weekend’s Premier League game against Swansea.

Parker has not featured this season after undergoing an Achilles operation in the summer while Assou-Ekotto has been missing since September with a knee problem.

Probable Tottenham team: Friedel; Walker, Vertonghen, Caulker, Naughton; Livermore, Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Lennon; Demspey, Defoe

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