Tottenham Hotspur: AVB's Challenge Is to Keep Competition for Places Fierce

Guy MartinContributor IISeptember 15, 2013

Andre Villas-Boas must keep his new squad happy—and hungry.
Andre Villas-Boas must keep his new squad happy—and hungry.Clive Rose/Getty Images

What's been refreshing for Tottenham Hotspur fans this season has been the desire and intensity shown by every player. Everyone given their chance has looked hungry to be part of the team.

It does not take a genius to work out that a major reason for this is competition for places, and Andre Villas-Boas and Gylfi Sigurdsson have both hailed its importance in recent days.

Sigurdsson, who scored twice in Saturday's win over Norwich, has a spark about his play that was barely seen last season.

Andros Townsend also looks a different player to the youngster who previously struggled to make any real impact in the first team. The 22-year-old has vowed to force his way into the team, promising to prove himself "whenever I get the chance," according to the Daily Star. "I know it is difficult. We have got fantastic, world-class players."

Perhaps the keenness of the new players to show Villas-Boas that they want to be part of the new project at Tottenham has rubbed off on the likes of Townsend.

Paulinho seems to fly out of the blocks in every match, while Christian Eriksen had a hugely impressive debut and other newcomers have shown promising signs. Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches are two new arrivals who will try to force their way into the team in the coming weeks.   

Sandro and Jermain Defoe, both currently on the bench, will be desperate to seize any chance they are given.

This competitive culture cannot have failed to affect players such as Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker and Moussa Dembele. Toward the end of last season, if fit, they were all but guaranteed a place in the starting lineup. Now they know a single bad game could see them relegated to the bench.

The challenge Villas-Boas faces is to maintain this competition for places and ensure the players' early-season exuberance does not fade.

It could be crucial to preventing Spurs' season from petering out as it nears its climax, as has happened all too often in recent years. Last season, with the exception of Gareth Bale and a reliable defensive unit, too many of Spurs' players looked tired and out of form after Christmas.

Players who spent much of the season on the bench, such as Tom Huddlestone and William Gallas, looked stale when called upon due to injuries. Such players seemed to lack either the belief or desire to show the manager they should be in the team even after the return of the injured players. They played as if they knew there were fringe players.

Villas-Boas must not allow any mediocrity to creep in this season.

He must ensure every player knows they must be at their best at every opportunity to break into or stay in the team.