An eternity seems to have passed since Andre Villas-Boas cracked a smile, but after watching his Tottenham side capture a much-needed Europa League win in the freezing conditions of Tromso, he was given another reason to perk up when one reporter pressed him on calls for Sir Alex Ferguson to manage the club.
Former Spurs chairman Lord Alan Sugar suggested it would be a "dream" for the recently retired manager to take over at White Hart Lane in an interview with talkSPORT, reported by Charles Perrin of the Express.
When asked about The Apprentice star's comments, Villas-Boas offered a jovial retort, per Paul Hirst of the Daily Mail:
"I think it is pretty fair (to say Ferguson could do a better job)," said the Portuguese manager. "With the record Ferguson has, he would be a pretty good manager in any club in the world."
Sugar's original comments, although lighthearted, come amidst a period of difficulty for the North London club. He suggested a proposition could be made to Ferguson if he travels to the game between Spurs and Manchester United on Dec. 1, per Perrin's report:
My dream would be that my good friend Sir Alex Ferguson will get itchy feet in about a year or so and decide he wants to get back into management and maybe bring his wonderful wife down to London and manage our team.
That would be my dream. If he comes to watch the game, I will suggest some nice houses for him and his wife to stay in.
While Villas-Boas was right to laugh off Sugar's suggestion, it is difficult to think the 36-year-old would have been in such an amusing mood if Spurs failed to leave Tromso with a win.
He has been under vast pressure since the team's 6-0 loss to Manchester City, noted by ESPN, and a loss to United could ramp up calls for the guillotine to fall.
Will Sir Alex Ferguson ever return to management?
Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail even outlined Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique as favourite to replace Villas-Boas, highlighting the situation's ability to teeter with results.
Spurs are currently eight points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, who beat them 1-0 earlier in the season, suggesting there is no further room for the team to slip up.
Ferguson confirmed he will not consider a return to football management back in October, per BBC Sport, indicating Sugar may have to make do with Villas-Boas for a little while longer.