The time for deflection and denial is gone. After today’s 5-0 loss at White Hart Lane, the question isn’t whether Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas is under fire. He clearly is. Instead, the question is whether he can survive, a question the second-year boss addressed directly after his team’s embarrassment.
“It’s not my call. I can’t control that,” Villas-Boas told the assembled media after today’s game in North London (as reported by The Guardian). “I won’t resign and I’m not a quitter.”
Between today’s loss and Spurs’ 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Nov. 14, Villas-Boas appears to be running out of time. Although most reports about Villas-Boas’s tenuous future rest on conjecture over knowledge, it’s rare to see a would-be Champions League contender suffer this kind of dip. When they do, their manager’s future is naturally a point of speculation.
“This is a top-four squad but in the Premier League the form isn’t there,” Villas-Boas confessed, implicitly alluding to the team’s 6-0-0 record in Europa League. “It’s not the points tally that prevents us from dreaming with our position in the league. It’s actually the expression of the results which has been difficult, from 3-0 at home to West Ham, to 6-0 at City and now 5-0 here. These things are costing us much more.”
Translation: It’s the way Spurs are losing more than the actual results, something that shouldn’t need spelling out to anybody. If Tottenham were losing one-goal heart breakers, this would be bump, not a swoon. Few would be speculating as to “AVB’s” future.
Instead, Spurs are suffering the type of inexplicable losses that have people questioning whether he’s lost the ability to motivate his team. And if he hasn’t, what other excuse is there for these types of performances? Because as Villas-Boas concedes, the talent is there.
Tottenham’s management isn’t averse to changing managers midseason. They did so with Martin Jol (Oct. 2007). They did so with his successor, Juande Ramos (Oct. 2008). If a manager isn’t meeting expectations, Spurs will move on.
The question is whether expectations that have changed since Harry Redknapp helped the team become a consistent threat for Champions League spots. Jol and Ramos’s clubs got off to near-bottom starts with teams that were expected to compete for Europe. Villas-Boas, on the other hand, is already in Europe with a team that currently sits in seventh place.
Given new standards at White Hart Lane, is Villas-Boas about to go the way of Jol and Ramos? Or will chairman Daniel Levy have a different perspective on whether Spurs should move on?