After the sacking of fan-favourite Harry Redknapp Tottenham will try a new approach with Andreas Villas-Boas, Ciaran McManus takes a closer look at how Spurs could do this season.
Whilst most title-challenging teams have been instigating change above-the-line with high profile playing staff recruitment, Spurs’ rebuilding has been largely below-the-line, with the introduction of a new manager known for his particular aggressive style of attacking football. Having been disallowed the time to breath life into a transitional Chelsea squad, Spurs fans will be hoping André Villas-Boas can hit the ground running and implement his style without any of the hiccups that plagued his short-lived Chelsea tenure.
His signings so far look promising and indicative of his desired system, with the highly sought after Jan Vertonghen recruited from Ajax. An agile and dynamic defender, his performances may be crucial to maintaining the AVB high-lined defense, a role that the recently retired Spurs veteran Ledley King would have been incapable of fulfilling. Gylfi Sigurdsson also seems a canny acquisition, a cultured technician and perhaps the best set piece taker in England. He adds to a wealth of midfield talent, bristling with youth and energy which will surely suit Villas-Boas’ pressing game more than the stolid old guard of Chelsea’s midfield.
However, the club continue to look short up front, with the signing of Adebayor likely but by no means confirmed, and Defoe, despite a surprisingly spunky performance for England on Wednesday night, continues to be an accomplished finisher but a streaky performer. If Spurs really do desire to crack the top four permanently, they will require a forward with a better strike rate than one in three.
The spectre of Luka Modric looms large over the club; the transfer saga has undoubtedly unsettled the club’s summer transfer activity as they attempt to wrest a £30m fee for his services, but much encouragement can be taken from the retention of Gareth Bale despite the host of European suitors who were rumoured to be after his signature. A Modric-shaped hole will be a difficult one to fill, but AVB’s style may not be so dependent on a singular creative midfield talent.
There’s clearly still business to be done for Spurs, but the squad at Villas-Boas’ disposal is not to be sniffed at. If Chairman Daniel Levy can resolve the ongoing concern of Luka Modric’s future and adequately bulk out the squad with a striker of repute, the manager can be hopeful of a top 6 finish, which would be a good return following a mediocre summer’s worth of business and the lengthy bedding-in period of a new team philosophy. Spurs fans looking for triumph may need to embrace the idea that successfully reshaping this team philosophy is a season’s acomplishment to be proud of.