Tottenham Boss Andre Villas-Boas Should Be Applauded for Fighting for Every Inch
In the feature film Any Given Sunday, revolving around the season of a professional American Football team, it is the coach of the fictitious Miami Sharks, Tony D'Amato, who describes life as a "game of inches."
"The margin for error is so small. One half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half a second too slow, too fast, you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us"
However, it is the fight for those inches that have left Spurs currently lying in the very tightest of margins. Having enjoyed an extremely positive debut season at White Hart Lane, the former Chelsea and Porto boss now stands, for some, dangerously close to the precipice of failure.
Since arriving in North London at the start of the campaign, Villas-Boas and his players have attacked the season with gusto and have fought for every metaphorical inch going.
The Portuguese has moulded a side that appeared to have hit a glass ceiling under its former manager Harry Redknapp, into one that looks to regularly dominate football matches. Redknapp's Tottenham were largely one-dimensional, looking to merely attack sides with pace down the flanks; Villas-Boas has looked to harness a team that can dictate a match over the course of 90 minutes, no matter the opposition.
There is no question that it remains a work in progress. Though, with a couple more quality additions and the added experience that the current campaign will bring to the present group of players, Spurs have the look of potential title contenders in 2013/14.
Nonetheless, it is as much in their relative success this season, that ultimately could mark down Spurs' season as one of disappointment and failure.
The preseason goal set down by the board to the Portuguese was to aim for a top-four finish. Villas-Boas and his players are still fighting to make that happen, and their fate remains in their own hands.
Yet, it has been a desire to win the Europa League, European club football's secondary competition, which may have done as much as anything to derail Spurs season.
Where will Spurs finish this season?
Having battled hard on two fronts, Spurs' recent European defeat on penalties to FC Basel in the quarter-finals has left them now in a "top-four or nothing" scenario. Personally, I feel Villas-Boas should be applauded for his attempts at leading the Lilywhites to glory this season, when other managers may have simply written Europe off as an inconvenience, such is the "Champions League beat all" mentality that currently surrounds top-level football.
Yet, it is largely due to the clubs fighting for those extra inches that could prove Spurs' undoing, having seen a number of key players, the likes of Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe and Mousa Dembele, suffer from either injury or notable fatigue.
In the end, Spurs weren't quite good enough to claim European glory for their own.
Now, a massive game against Manchester City on Sunday will go some way to deciding whether or not their top-four desires continue to glisten, in what has for the large part been a season of promise.
Certainly Spurs have made progress under Andre Villas-Boas, but now they need to fight for those extra inches, if they're to eventually win this season's fight.
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