Jake Livermore Exclusive: Tottenham Midfielder on Villas-Boas, EPL Title Hopes
He'd need patience to realize it. In the years that followed, Livermore was loaned out to MK Dons, Crewe, Derby County, Peterborough, Ipswich and Leeds United. Finally, last season, Harry Redknapp deemed him ready. The 22-year-old Livermore made 38 appearances in all competitions for Spurs and was hailed by his manager as a future England international.
When I caught up with Jake on the phone—during Spurs' preseason tour of the U.S.—all thoughts were on the new campaign. Redknapp has been replaced by Andre Villas-Boas and Spurs have already made some notable moves in the transfer market. Exciting times could be ahead.
WILL TIDEY: Hi Jake, thanks for talking to us today. Let's start by reflecting on what was a breakthrough year for you last season. It must have felt great to finally get your first-team chance and prove yourself at the club you love?
JAKE LIVERMORE: Growing up in the area and supporting Spurs made it great for me. I've always been a Tottenham fan. It would have been easy to sign for another club to play more games, but you've got to stay strong. You've got to make your own destiny.
WT: Harry Redknapp was a big supporter of yours last season. With him gone and Andre Villas-Boas now in charge, do you feel you need to prove yourself all over again?
JL: Yes, of course. But that's football, that's life. The main thing is keeping to the same principles and working hard. It's a fresh slate at Spurs and I think that's a good thing. We're making a brand new start.
WT: What's been your experience of Villas-Boas so far? Has he made any big changes from the Redknapp regime in terms of preseason preparation? Do you feel a different mood in the camp with a younger manager in charge?
JL: Having been on loan a few times, I've worked under lots of different managers and experienced different approaches. Villas-Boas is very organized and very structured in the way he does things. It's great for me personally, as a young player still learning the game.
WT: Villas-Boas played you alongside new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson in the friendly against LA Galaxy. What are your thoughts on him as a player, and whether you two could potentially form a strong partnership this season?
JL: We had an eye on him last season and he was doing really well at Swansea. Since coming here, we've seen his first touch and awareness are second to none. It's great to play alongside him. There's also the signing of Jan Vertonghen, who's another great player we've brought in for the new season.
WT: In terms of ambition, how far can Spurs go this season? Is it too far to suggest you can be Premier League title contenders? What would represent a successful campaign in your mind?
JL: It's difficult to say. Last season, we got off to a great start and the press hyped us as title contenders. This year, we're going to take every competition seriously and hopefully win one of them—be it the FA Cup, Europa League, Carling Cup or Premier League.
WT: Let's talk about your own game. Which areas were you pleased with last season and which do you still think need to show improvement?
JL: I think there comes a time when you need to have an identity, so maybe I need to choose between being somebody who sits in front of the back four or somebody who pushes forward. I had a lot of fun playing in the No. 8 role in the Europa League and getting into advanced positions. That said, I'm happy playing either role.
WT: Should the fans expect a vastly different approach from Spurs under Villas-Boas than we saw with Redknapp? Do you expect your role to change much?
JL: We're working on lots of different combinations. The most important thing right now is reaching full fitness. Once we get back to England, we'll start working on tactics and how we'll set up next season.
WT: Obvious one I know, but who would you say is the toughest opponent you came up against in the Premier League last season and why?
JL: Playing against Steven Gerrard. His movement was brilliant. Wayne Rooney is another one—he finds those pockets between the defense and midfield and is really difficult to stop.
WT: Finally, what of your England ambitions? Do you think it's possible you could factor in Roy Hodgson's plans for World Cup qualifying? Have you allowed yourself to dream of playing in the 2014 World cup in Brazil?
JL: Everyone's got a dream. But the most important thing for me is continuing to play well for Tottenham. Whatever else happens is a bonus.
WT: Thanks for chatting today, Jake. We really appreciate your time and hope to speak again in the future. Good luck for the new season.
JL: Thanks, nice one.
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