I was very upset to see AVB go. I had really hoped it would work out for him, but in the end even I had to admit that his departure was inevitable. I was at the Liverpool game. It wasn’t the tactics, the team selection or the result that finally did for him, it was the lack of fight left in the players.
However, I think my sadness was not just for Villas-Boas himself or the broken hopes of another false dawn at White Hart Lane. It was more that I liked the idea of AVB. I wanted a young, stylish, intelligent manager. Forward thinking, tactically sophisticated. I identify with that sort of coach far more than the old fashioned “bloke down the pub” style of Harry Redknapp. The unhappiness I felt was for the loss of this ideal.
Many Spurs fans had exactly opposite views to mine. They never trusted AVB, never liked his over-complicated tactics, his foreignness. While watching us lose to Liverpool the loudest voices were of those bemoaning his unwillingness to play two strikers, his leaving out of fan favourites like Defoe or in one case urging him to “f*** off back to Portugal”.
This exemplifies a tension that exists in English football. A tension between the old fashioned world of straightforward tactics and tough challenges versus the modern world of false nines, directors of football and carefully controlled diets. This may be a victory for the old world but it’s surely only temporary.