Why Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy Had to Sack Andre Villas-Boas

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Why Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy Had to Sack Andre Villas-Boas

Tottenham Hotspur announced the departure of manager Andre Villas-Boas on Monday morning via a statement on their official website:

Describing the decision as one of "mutual consent and in the interests of all parties," it brought an end to the one-and-a-half-year reign of the Portuguese.

It is easy to say with the benefit of hindsight, but anyone who saw the look on chairman Daniel Levy's face as he watched his team lose 5-0 to Liverpool on Sunday might have had an inkling something was coming. Only a few weeks removed from the 6-0 demolition by Manchester City, Levy and the powers that be at White Hart Lane clearly decided enough was enough.

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In seven matches versus the teams sitting above them in the Premier League right now, as well as against reigning champions Manchester United, who sit just below, Spurs have taken just three points.

From this, Levy might have fairly made the assumption that his manager could not fashion a competitive team featuring players on whom the club had spent over £100 million this past summer.

This will not just have been a decision based on the results of the current campaign. 

The failure to finish in Champions League places last season likely also counted against Villas-Boas, despite achieving a record Premier League points tally in the process.

Unfair though the expectation might have been, Levy sacked Harry Redknapp in 2012 after he had done better in terms of position, having just finished fourth (albeit not qualifying for Europe's top competition as a result of fifth-place Chelsea winning it).

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has shown in the past he is not afraid to remove a manager he does not feel is performing sufficiently.

That was not the first occasion in which the chairman demonstrated he is not an overly patient man.

Levy removed Martin Jol early in the 2007-08 campaign, despite Jol taking Spurs to a second consecutive fifth-place finish the previous season. The subsequent appointment of Juande Ramos did not work either (ironically, Spurs will face the Spaniard and his current club, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, in the next round of the Europa League), but it demonstrated Levy's willingness to move on in search of a perceived better man for the job.

Arguments will be made that Villas-Boas' sacking was premature, and they certainly have merit.

Chasing a Champions League place all the way to the final day last season was no small thing. Villas-Boas had come into a squad that was without the services of three of its previous most important players: the retiring Ledley King, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart.

Albeit often saved by extraordinary performances from Gareth Bale, Spurs pushed on from early autumn struggles to go unbeaten from December into March. There were signs of a developing style under Villas-Boas as he fashioned a new-look side.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Villas-Boas might feel aggrieved at not getting the time to build a team without the services of Gareth Bale.

Having to get on without Bale this season following his largely enforced sale to Real Madrid, the decided remedy was to use the money to bring in a clutch of highly rated players from across the globe.

On paper, they were all terrific signings, and they might still prove to be so. The reality of incorporating them into a winning team, one that still had some of their other key components from last season (chiefly Michael Dawson, Moussa Dembele and Aaron Lennon, among others), has proven more difficult than anticipated.

In a patient world, Villas-Boas would have been given time to mould a team that made the most of the squad's existing players and had new recruits like Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado flourishing, too. Instead, he will have to watch on as someone else takes on that task.

It goes back to expectations, though, and at Spurs they have changed dramatically over the last decade.

Jol was rewarded for his fine work in re-establishing the club as one of the top flight's main protagonists by being told he was not the man to take the team any further.

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Harry Redknapp knows full well the expectations placed on Tottenham managers these days.

Redknapp would actually take the club into the Champions League, enjoying some historic nights even by Tottenham's lofty standards. But in the mind of Levy and those in charge, even his style was deemed not needed anymore.

The need to be among the riches and prestige of Europe's top table has become everything. By that way of thinking, some will view Villas-Boas' removal as a necessity. For others, it will be further evidence of the erosion of sensible planning in achieving a club's goals.

The structure of the Spurs hierarchy has changed in 18 months. Technical director Franco Baldini arrived, an appointment encouraged by Villas-Boas to take the onus off him in recruiting players.

Baldini was said, via the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton and Sami Mokbel, to have been in a "crisis meeting" with Levy and Villas-Boas after the Liverpool loss. That article suggested the manager had survived, but if so, the situation changed by Monday morning.

So what next for Tottenham? The Daily Star's Jack Wilson was among the first reporting a potential replacement candidate:

Talk of Fabio Capello might be just an assumption made on his previous working relationship with his former assistant, Baldini. But it lends itself to the question that lies at the heart of the decision for Levy. Does he go for a more short-term fix, like the 67-year-old Italian who is currently manager of Russia, or embark on a project with a young manager that offers no guarantees either?

For now, Spurs fans will be reflecting on another false dawn at their club and wondering what is next over the horizon.

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