Following their 2-1 away win against Southampton this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur have moved into 4th place in the Premier League without ever really impressing for 90 minutes.
New manager Andre Villas-Boas had a slightly wobbly start to the season, and the club had their usual frenetic transfer window which can’t have helped to settle things. Despite this, it hasn’t taken long for the team to start notching up the wins, including a famous victory away at Man United.
The old cliché suggests it is a good sign when you are playing badly and still winning, but to me it just suggests the other team are in even worse shape than you. Despite winning their last 2 away games, Spurs spent the second half of both games pinned back on their own goal-line desperately trying to hang onto the lead. Its one thing to do this against Man Utd, it’s entirely another to do it against Southampton (sorry Saints fans).
AVB has decided to take the Europa League seriously and has fielded reasonably strong sides. Despite this, Spurs have drawn three games they should have won, and looked far from convincing throughout. In the Premier League they have only kept one clean sheet this season.
Villas-Boas appears to have chosen his formation: 4-2-3-1 and is willing to play players out of position to fit his formation. Spurs spent a decent amount on Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey but don’t seem to know what to do with them.
In fairness, AVB has been denied the opportunity to choose his strongest team as 4 first team players are still out injured (Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Kaboul and Dembele), Dempsey & Adebayor haven’t had much of a pre-season and it takes a long time for a team and a new coach to bed down.
However, I wonder if AVB is nearly too chastened from his Chelsea expereince last season when he tried to change too much too quickly, and he lost the faith of everyone, and then his job. In Hugo Lloris and Emmanuel Adebayor, they arguably have better players on the bench than on the field, but it seems the manager doesnt want to alienate and offend in order to get his way. I hope things continue to go well for AVB. He seems intelligent and forward thinking, but if he truly has a vision, he needs to press ahead with it rather than compromise.
Mark Cruise is a soccer writer for RantSports.com – follow him on Twitter @chiefhairyman