It’s looking increasingly likely that the name of Daniel levy did not feature on the Andre Villas-Boas Christmas card list this year. The Portuguese manager was dismissed from Spurs just over a year ago, but recent reports suggest that Villas-Boas, now plying his trade in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg, still harbours bitterness about how things turned out in north London.
Villas-Boas arrived at Tottenham shortly after his ‘project’ at Chelsea had been scuppered by a combination of player unrest and poor results. In a recent interview, he also claimed that “I arrived at a difficult time in the private life of the chairman, who was rarely present. This clearly had an effect. Then I was surprised, and I am still surprised, that the chairman’s intentions changed. When I went there, the idea was to rebuild the team.” Whatever the reality of that, the job at Spurs offered both a chance for redemption and revenge.
During the hectic 18 months that he was in the White Hart Lane hot seat Villas-boas was fated to lose the talismanic talent of Gareth Bale. And the reaction of the club to this and how the money was spent seems to be the major point of contention. It’s an event the Portuguese however describes as “an experience I needed to have”.
Villas-Boas is insistent that chairman Daniel Levy failed to honour a number of promises about signing the players that his manager wanted. As well as losing Bale, the club had also sold Luka Modric to Real Madrid and a rebuilding programme was the order of the day. Despite the king’s ransom of money paid out, Villas-Boas says that the purchases were not his choice. Speaking on Portuguese television, he stated that “I had identified such as João Moutinho, Willian, Oscar or Leandro Damião. These were promises that were not kept. I had a group of players I had not chosen. In two years I lost [Rafael] van der Vaart, Modric, Bale, and all the promises made were unfulfilled.”
Despite this, Villas-Boas still sees his time at the club as being successful. “Tottenham set a points and victories record in my first season, missed out on the Champions League by one point and had a great run in the Europa League. In the second season, at the time I left we had more points than in the previous campaign. I ended up leaving by mutual agreement – I wasn’t sacked – because I gave full support to the football director Franco Baldini despite him having other ambitions, meaning that I ended up with players that did not fit the profile I wanted.”
Rose-tinted spectacles perhaps; Tottenham certainly see it another way. After hearing of the interview, a club source sought to put the record straight. “It’s unfortunate that André has felt the need to pass comments like these,” he said. “Not only has he attempted to rewrite history, he has clearly forgotten the facts.” For any outsider, hearing such diametrically opposed accounts, it’s difficult to peer through the swirling mists of claim and counter-claim to gain an unsullied view of the truth. It seems clear however that there’s unlikely to be a reconciliation any time soon.
With that in mind, it’s probably best for all concerned that Villas-Boas is unlikely to be paying a competitive visit to White Hart Lane, unless Spurs and Zenit are fated to meet in European competition. The Premier League may not see Villas-Boas again. In the same interview, he declared that “I chose Zenit also to get away from the media glare. I’ve had my fill of media sensationalism and false promises. I had talks with Liverpool. Returning to England is definitely not in my plans, although life takes many turns. Coaching in England was a positive experience but also many negative things happened.”
When Andre Villas-Boas joined Chelsea after a brief but spectacularly successful period with Porto, he was seen by many as the ‘new Mourinho’ – certainly a number of blues fans thought that way. It very quickly became clear however that the job required was beyond his capabilities at that time. Tottenham was a chance to restore his prestige, but again he came up short. It’s not difficult to detect the resentment in his words about how he feels the Premier League has treated him. Perhaps however he would be better served to focus on the future. There’s seldom much to gain when you look back in anger.
(This All Blue Daze article was originally produced for ‘theaspirer’ website).