Andre Villas-Boas' Dilemma Choosing Either Jan Vertonghen or Vlad Chiriches

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 8, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Curtis Davies of Hull City mashalls Vlad Chiriches of Spurs during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Hull City at White Hart Lane on October 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

During Tottenham Hotspur's UEFA Europa League win over Sheriff Tiraspol, Andre Villas-Boas relegated an in-form Vlad Chiriches to the bench to keep Jan Vertonghenfrustrated with his fill-in left-back role in recent games, happy. 

By not naming Michael Dawson on the bench, Villas-Boas made it clear his captain, whose leadership at the back has contributed to Spurs having the Premier League's second-best defensive record, was being rested.

That was the easy part.  

What Villas-Boas did next has trapped him in a no-win situation going into the next Premier League game against Newcastle United

Kyle Naughton was available to start at left-back; therefore, Vertonghen expected Villas-Boas to stay true to his word. 

"He knows that position [centre-back] is waiting for him whenever we have options at left-back," Villas-Boas said, via ITV. "He has my word."

Villas-Boas wanted to continue easing Younes Kaboul back to full-match fitness, so there was only one centre-back position left for either Chiriches or Vertonghen.

Vertonghen, the club's best defender, was a shoo-in to start once Naughton was passed fit for the Sheriff game.

Unfortunately, it came at the expense of Chiriches, who has played great football despite not having a pre-season with Spurs. 

Do you know how many goals Tottenham have conceded in Chiriches' five games as a starter? Zero. 

He was coming off a sterling performance in the 0-0 draw against Everton, a game where he and Michael Dawson combined to pacify Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, who failed to register a single shot on goal.

Vertonghen, starting at left-back, stopped his compatriot Kevin Mirallas, who led the Toffees in league assists (four) going into the game. 

"I have had lots of conversations with Jan regarding this situation [playing left-back]," Villas-Boas said, via The Independent. "I know he doesn't like it, but it's no big deal. It's a decision I have to make for the best of the team."

Tottenham face Newcastle this weekend, and Villas-Boas will have a dilemma at centre-back: Vertonghen or Chiriches to partner Dawson.

  • OPTION A: Walker, Dawson, ChirichesVertonghen
  • OPTION B: Walker, Dawson, VertonghenNaughton

Option A is clearly the stronger back four simply because of Vertonghen being a superior left-back to Naughton, who is a right-back, not a left-back. 

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew played a 4-4-2 in the 2-0 win over Chelsea with Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko providing width on the right flank.

Can Naughton, who isn't suited to play at left-back, deal with the overlapping runs of Debuchy and the athleticism of Sissoko?


"For the best of the team," Vertonghen should start over Naughton at left-back against Newcastle. 

Vertonghen needs to bite his tongue when filling in at left-back until Danny Rose returns from injury.

If Villas-Boas signs a left-back in the January transfer window to provide cover, Vertonghen's days of being a left-back at Spurs will be over.

In the words of Villas-Boas, via Chris Richards at The Mirror: "He [Vertonghen] is one of the greatest central defenders I have worked with."

Chiriches has made an outstanding first impression at Tottenham, but once Vertonghen returns to centre-back, Chiriches will have to get used to warming the bench. 

He should take solace knowing Vertonghen was once below Oleguer, Robbie Wielaert and Thomas Vermaelen in the Ajax centre-back pecking order. 

Chiriches' time will come. 



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