Andre Villas-Boas' Caution Could Be Holding Spurs Back

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2013

This week, Andre Villas-Boas has received plenty of criticism for his decision to leave Hugo Lloris on the pitch following his head’s losing battle with Romelu Lukaku’s knee.

And rightly so—our understanding about the long-term damage caused by head injuries is still in its infancy, but what we do know is that you don’t take chances.

Villas-Boas’ defence of the decision featured the frankly ludicrous statement that Lloris himself said he was fine, which is a little like someone declaring they’re perfectly fine to drive after drinking half a bottle of vodka.

Any responsible friend would confiscate their car keys, just as Villas-Boas should have told Lloris there was no way he was staying on the pitch.

The Lloris non-decision was the latest in a series of curious calls made by Villas-Boas this season that could potentially hamper Tottenham’s season.

There is pressure on the Portuguese manager this season, with a combination of the astonishing amount of money spent in the summer and the opportunity presented by the changing tides elsewhere in the Premier League, meaning a top four finish is a must.

Roberto Soldado has yet to hit his stride, but as many have pointed out, this has more to do with the way he is being used than his own form. At Valencia, Soldado thrived on crosses and through-balls, but the way Villas-Boas has set up his side this term means neither of those are particularly forthcoming.

Christian Eriksen looked exactly like the player Spurs were looking for in his first few performances, but he has recently found himself relegated to the bench for reasons unclear. Lewis Holtby is a fine player, but he doesn’t offer the passing and subtlety that Eriksen does in the No. 10 role.

Deploying "inside-out" wingers, particularly when one of those is a player as fond of a long-range shot as Andros Townsend, does Soldado no favours either.

Chances are simply not being created for the Spanish centre-forward (he has taken 21 shots in nine starts—by way of comparison, Townsend has had 40), and while one might say that he could do more to make his own, that is not his primary role in the Spurs side.

As a lone striker, he needs more help.

The reluctance even to try Erik Lamela in the league is curious, too. Of course, Townsend has been better than expected but not so good as to justify leaving a player as talented as Lamela on the bench quite so much.

He may very well be struggling to adapt, but that process is hardly going to be improved by gathering rust on the bench. He has only made four substitute appearances in the Premier League, and while Villas-Boas is clearly trying to ease him in, it currently looks like too much caution is being applied. 

In addition, the failure of Villas-Boas and Spurs to buy a replacement for Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the summer has presented a further problem.

Danny Rose was impressive for Sunderland last season, but should he be the starting left-back for a side with Champions League ambitions? Indeed, the only left-back for such a team?

When Rose is out, as he is at present, Jan Vertonghen is forced to deputise, away from his best position. It’s a long way from being ideal.

Spurs are, of course, doing quite well at the moment and this is no time to panic. However, there is a sense that they could be doing much better if Villas-Boas was a little bolder in his decisions.