Ten minutes and two Arsenal goals later Spurs and Redknapp were on their way to a humiliating 5-2 loss. The win turned Arsenal’s season around, but hastened the end of Redknapp’s reign as Spurs manager. Spurs did eventually finish fourth, but Chelsea’s Champions League victory relegated the club to the Europa Cup. The manner of the loss at the Emirates, in reality a capitulation and the subsequent failure to qualify for the Champions League led Spurs Chairman, Daniel Levy, to lose patience with Redknapp.
A sizeable contingent of Spurs fans had lost faith in Redknapp, who was too quick to accept the glory of the club’s one Champions League appearance, but not accept the blame for some embarrassing losses such as against Arsenal, Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, and Man City at home in the league. The disappointing exit from the Europa Cup and the manner in which the competition was approached added to the fan’s frustration.
Levy wanted a progressive young manager, one who would put in a lot of time on the training ground; who was tactically shrewd; who would instill a playing philosophy that would be followed throughout the club, and one who understood the demands and expectations of a club run with fiscal responsibility. With Spurs moving forward with a new ground and an impressive new state of the art training facility, it was important that the manager at the helm embraced the club’s vision. Redknapp did not. Villas-Boas does.
Is he the right man to replace Redknapp? In the short term no. It will take AVB time to evaluate the players at his disposal, move out some deadwood - David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, and William Gallas to name but three - bed in new signings Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson and introduce the likes of Stephen Caulker following his successful loan spell at Swansea City. It will take Villas-Boas time to implement his style of play and Spurs could be in for a shaky start to the season, but unlike with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, he will be given time by Daniel Levy to shape Tottenham for the long term.
With games against West Brom, Norwich City, Reading, and QPR to follow, AVB, will have a chance to establish some confidence with four winnable games, regardless of the players at his disposal. His team then goes to Old Trafford to play Man United on the final weekend in September at which time we will have a better idea of how AVB’s Spurs will look.
Under Redknapp Spurs re-established themselves as a favorite for neutrals by playing some outstanding attacking football. Fourth, fifth, and fourth place finishes in the last three years have established Spurs as one of England’s best teams. It will be up to Villas-Boas to build on that reputation and get Tottenham back into the UEFA Champions League and competing for some silverware.
He has the defensive midfield players in Sandro, Jake Livermore, and Scott Parker to provide the attacking players the freedom to gallivant forward. Spurs will need pace in the center of defense which Caulker, Vertonghen, and Younes Kaboul will provide. With Ledley King retiring and William Gallas possibly moving on the defense has gotten younger too.
Playing a high line as AVB wants will require a keeper who can play outside the penalty area. It is a reason why Spurs are in the market for a keeper to take over from Brad Friedel. They also need to sign one or two forwards who can score on a consistent basis because a forward line of Jermaine Defoe and Harry Kane is not a top four strike partnership.
Spurs will take time to become AVB’s team, but will develop as the season goes by and will challenge for fourth spot and miss out, but will win one of the cups with the Europa Cup the most likely. Manchester City and Man United will compete for the title with Arsenal finishing third. Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs will compete for the fourth and final Champions League spot.
More Premier League Previews
Colm Hamill - Manchester United
Craig Giovannetti - Aston Villa
Ryan Wood - Chelsea
Allan Lewis - Liverpool