Is Tottenham Hotspur Boss Andre Villas-Boas an Improvement on Harry Redknapp?
Have Tottenham Hotspur moved forward under Andre Villas-Boas?
A few columnists have compared him and Harry Redknapp at various points since the former Chelsea manager took over at Spurs in July 2012.
But the question of whether the club has improved was not one many were asking a few weeks ago, when Spurs had dropped just eight points from nine league games and had brushed aside all opposition in the Europa League and Capital One Cup.
But a draw and defeat in the last two league matches and unconvincing cup wins over Hull City and FC Sheriff have raised a few further questions about Villas-Boas' team, particularly their ability to turn possession into goals.
The lack of potency in attack and failure to create chances is a worry, and was something Spurs spent some £76 million trying to address by signing five attacking players in the summer.
This means a comparison is now justified with the team of Harry Redknapp, one which rarely lacked attacking intensity and whose cavalier style was preferred by some fans to the defensive qualities of the current Villas-Boas side.
In the piece, the two managers will be judged on different qualities to show their strengths and weaknesses and give an overall comparison.
Harry Redknapp: 7/10
During Redknapp's three full seasons in charge, Tottenham finished fourth, fifth and then fourth again.
The team did not win any cup competitions but qualified for the Champions League once, and this would have been twice had Chelsea not won the competition in May 2012.
Redknapp led Spurs to the quarter-final in their only experience of Champions League football to date in a run which included famous wins over both Milan clubs.
As the man himself often reminded fans, it was a major turnaround in results compared to the team which had won just two league points from eight games when he took over in October 2008.
But if those fans were being critical, they could point to a few blips, including letting a 10-point lead over rivals Arsenal slip in his last season in charge.
Andre Villas-Boas: 7/10
Tottenham achieved their highest-ever Premier League points tally under Andre Villas-Boas last season.
It was still not enough to secure a Champions League spot, however, as a few dropped points and the form of Arsenal and Chelsea saw them nudge Spurs aside once again.
There was criticism during the season that the team had become heavily reliant on the goals of Gareth Bale, and his sale for a reported £85.3 million and purchase of seven new players has sparked huge interest in how Spurs will do this season.
The answer in league matches so far has been a mixed bag of narrow wins, draws against other top-four contenders and a couple of surprise home defeats.
This has left Tottenham in seventh place after 11 games and it could soon be worse if Spurs fail to pick up points in their next two league games against the two Manchester giants.
In spite of this, first-placed Arsenal are only five points better off, and Spurs have secured qualification from the Europa League group stage and to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Overall at this stage, it is hard to tell the managers apart based on results, but if Spurs do look likely to miss out on a top-four finish as the season progresses, Villas-Boas will be aware that his predecessor had secured Champions League football after less than two years in the job.
Harry Redknapp: 9/10
Whatever people said about Redknapp's tactical naivety, there could be no doubting the entertainment value of the teams he put out.
Whether it was a 4-4 draw at Arsenal just days after he took over, a 9-1 win over Wigan or a 4-3 defeat against Inter Milan at the San Siro in October 2010, he left Spurs fans with more than a few fond memories.
A team which included Rafael Van der Vaart and Luka Modric brought plenty of moments of individual flair, and at one point the Croatian teamed up with Tom Huddlestone in an attacking midfield behind two strikers—an ultra-offensive formation when compared with today's team.
There were high-scoring matches which were more embarrassing for fans than entertaining, namely a 5-2 defeat at the Emirates and a 5-1 FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea, and a couple of signings in Louis Saha and Steven Pienaar who added little to the team's attacking play.
But overall Redknapp's Tottenham were a team which delivered for fans of entertaining football.
Andre Villas-Boas: 6/10
In Tottenham's last three league matches, they have failed to score a single goal from open play.
Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela were both signed this summer with goals in mind—at a combined cost of £52 million—but neither has yet settled in the English game.
More than £35 million was spent recruiting Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli, but for all the impressive build-up play, there is no evidence yet that they are creating more chances.
For now most Tottenham fans are being patient while these players continue to adapt and because the results have generally been good thanks to an excellent defence and goalkeeper. But can they tolerate an entire season seeing so few goals?
Harry Redknapp: 8/10
Redknapp was reportedly well-liked by Tottenham's players.
Darren Bent apart, they did not express frustration at the way they were treated at the club under the former Portsmouth boss on being sold or when Redknapp himself left.
But some might argue he inherited a team of great players, among them Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, who only needed a few games to find their form.
And Redknapp's claims in his autobiography that he turned Bale into a superstar have been met with scepticism.
It seems he was a good motivator, but whether Redknapp added much tactically to the way his subjects played is doubtful.
Andre Villas-Boas: 9/10
If Redknapp cannot claim credit for the emergence of Gareth Bale as one of Europe's best players, then Villas-Boas surely can.
Not only was he credited for helping Bale to enjoy his football more last year, he also played him in a flexible forward role which allowed the Welshman to pick the ball up from deep and frighten opposing defences.
This led to Bale having by far his best season at the club and has sparked optimism that Villas-Boas can have a similar impact on Tottenham's current young stars such as Andros Townsend and Christian Eriksen.
If Villas-Boas can keep his large squad happy and maintain the team spirit which he has often spoken of since his move from Chelsea, then it should be a good season on the pitch.
Public Image/Credibility as a Long-Term Manager
Harry Redknapp: 5/10
Redknapp's autobiography, Always Managing, has been described by Jim White in The Daily Telegraph as proof that he was the wrong man for the England job:
Reading this volume does little to suggest that the long-held image of a garrulous Jack-the-lad, forever bobbing and weaving, stopping for a chat with the cameras on his way out of the training ground to impart a piece of information to Sky Sports News that turns out to be several steps away from the whole truth, is in any way inaccurate.
Casting one's mind back to the spring of 2012, Redknapp was starting preparations to become the England manager before he had been asked and while overseeing a poor end-of-season run at Spurs which saw them win just four of their last 13 league games.
With his relations with chairman Daniel Levy apparently becoming strained and some fans becoming weary of his public courting of the England job and old-school approach to football, interviews and everything else, it was understandable that Redknapp was not seen as the man to take Tottenham forward.
Andre Villas-Boas: 8/10
When Harry Redknapp left in the summer of 2012, Villas-Boas looked a bold choice as the man to spearhead a new approach at the club.
Gone was Redknapp and his posse of British coaches of the old guard, and in was a young, dynamic Portuguese able to play a part in a more continental structure at the club.
With a modern new training ground unveiled and money made available for summer signings whose combined value exceeded £55 million, Villas-Boas looked an exciting gamble after his stint at Chelsea had quickly turned sour.
And after a decent first season, albeit one in which the team was reliant on Gareth Bale, the club's belief in Villas-Boas was shown by a transfer kitty of more than £100 million being made available to him this summer.
With or without Bale in the side, it seems Villas-Boas is seen as the manager to take Tottenham forward in the long term.
Harry Redknapp: 29/40
This exercise could have used other criteria to judge the two managers on. Tactics, signings, motivational skills—all could have been separate sections.
But they have been factored in to the existing categories and perhaps the final result reflects the current view of the majority of Spurs fans. If asked whether they would want a return to the days of Harry Redknapp, most would see it as a step backwards, despite their fond memories of the moments of glory and excitement of that era.
Andre Villas-Boas: 30/40
There comes a point when calls for a manager to be replaced become so widespread they can only be silenced by a dramatic turnaround in results.
Villas-Boas is nowhere near this point, even if there have been some mixed results and an alarming lack of goals in recent weeks.
Only if defeats such as the West Ham and Newcastle results are repeated regularly, and Spurs drift into a mid-table position, will fans calling for a change of manager cease to become a small and derided minority.
And even if that situation did arise, few would want Redknapp as a replacement.
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