Is Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas Trying Too Hard ?

André Villas Boas

Spurs put in a superb first-half performance and survived a second-half onslaught to come away from Old Trafford with an historic win Saturday. But manager Andre Villas-Boas' astonishing reaction at the final whistle was very revealing.

Villas-Boas came to Tottenham and was under pressure before even a ball was kicked - there was, after all, a big question mark over whether he had what it takes, after his spell at Chelsea, to make it in English football.

And three matches into the new Premier League season, Tottenham's indifferent start prompted fears that Chairman Daniel Levy's huge gamble was about to backfire. Villas-Boas became defensive when reporters questioned him, he looked an isolated man on the touchline, and there were rumours that the players weren't happy with his training methods and tactics.

Only this week, there was speculation that a group of senior professionals approached the Tottenham manager and asked that he scrap the double training sessions that were exhausting the players, and suggested that he set the team up to be more offensive.

After 3 Premier League wins on the trot now, though, you'd think that the pressure would be off Villas-Boas - but far from it. He is determined to defy the critics and prove that he can be a success in England, and to that end Villas-Boas needs (for his own self-esteem) to qualify for the Champions League and win a trophy this season. He is, in fact, a young man in a hurry.

But piling such pressure on himself will impact those around him, including the players, who might not appreciate being pushed harder and harder to achieve the manager's goals.

In essence, Villas-Boas needs to chill-out a bit, and allow his players more freedom to express themselves on (and off) the pitch. He has a decent squad and a team which, on its day, can beat any club in the Premier League. Trying too hard, and attempting to achieve too much too quickly, is a recipe for disaster (AVB should have learned that at Chelsea).

He is a very young manager, and must quickly learn that he will achieve far more by treating the players as the professionals they are. He will need to bring the players with him because they buy into what he is trying to do, rather than attempt to force them into his way of thinking. And, above all, he must stop behaving as if everyone is out to get him.

Football is a team game Mr Villas-Boas, and you will achieve far more (and far more quickly) if you take the time to win over all the players (not just the ones like Clint Dempsey who are flavor of the month) and everyone else at the club.

As we saw at Old Trafford, Tottenham are on the verge of achieving something special, and patience is the key to a successful season. Villas-Boas mustn't rock the boat too much - and shouldn't push himself or the players too hard.

Tottenham fans, of course, won't agree as current form will make them think that AVB is merely being misunderstood. Let's reassess at Christmas, though, and see whether everything in the garden remains as rosy.

image: © Vladimir Maiorov

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