Andre Villas-Boas was offered the chance to hold on to his job as Tottenham manager by chairman Daniel Levy, but he reportedly refused to adhere to specific demands, including the reintegration of Emmanuel Adebayor, according to Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail.
Villas-Boas was sacked in surprising circumstances on Monday, paying the price for a 5-0 humbling at the hands of Liverpool. Yet he left as Spurs’ most successful manager—in terms of win percentage—of the Premier League era.
The Daily Mail has had the inside track on Villas-Boas’ fragile position for months, even earning a rebuke from the paranoid Portuguese during one press conference, and on Tuesday Neil Ashton published details of the moment Villas-Boas terminated his White Hart Lane stay:
When Andre Villas-Boas was called into a meeting at White Hart Lane with chairman Daniel Levy and director of football Franco Baldini on Sunday evening, he still had a chance to save his job. …
Tottenham’s directors, squirming in their seats high up in the West Stand, (had) spotted Brendan Rodgers hold up five fingers to his coaching staff when Jon Flanagan scored Liverpool’s third.
They were stunned by the audacity, but Rodgers had called it right. Levy was livid. He wanted Villas-Boas to change his ways but the Tottenham coach was in a militant mood during that super-charged meeting inside the stadium.
The Mail article then lists the demands Villas-Boas ultimately refused:
During some tense discussions, Levy demanded the re-integration of Emmanuel Adebayor into the Tottenham team and for Villas-Boas to set aside his personal issues with the striker. …
Villas-Boas' response to the problem up front was, apparently, to remind the Tottenham chairman that he wanted to sign Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg. …
Next on the agenda was Steffen Freund’s role in the coaching set-up after a spectacular fall-out between the pair when Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal on September 1. …
But after the derby, when they had a huge disagreement over the team’s approach and the substitutions, Villas-Boas promoted Luis Martins and relegated Freund in the seating positions.
The latest revelations provide an eye-opening insight into how different Monday could have panned out for Tottenham fans.
Had Villas-Boas swallowed some pride, built bridges with Adebayor and Freund, and bowed to his chairman’s demands, Spurs would likely be preparing for a Capital One Cup quarterfinal like any other week.
However, Villas-Boas was ultimately placed in a no-win situation. Managers have to be the ones calling the shots, they have to display total authority—as Sir Alex Ferguson so masterfully exhibited at Manchester United—so AVB knew he simply could not back down.
To recall a player like Adebayor, who had barely given an ounce of effort during his limited opportunities under Villas-Boas—scoring five league goals in 18 months according to Soccerbase—would have been a huge show of weakness from the Portuguese coach.
Following Spurs’ embarrassing loss to Liverpool, Adebayor was pictured looking far from disappointed alongside another Tottenham reject, Benoit Assou-Ekotto:
However, the irony would not have been lost on anybody that Assou-Ekotto—still arguably the club’s most natural left-back—has been sent out on loan to QPR while Spurs toiled with Kyle Naughton and Zeki Fryers. Raheem Sterling embarrassed both on Sunday.
Villas-Boas’ reputation has taken a battering during spells as manager of Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League.
Confident and suave while things are going well, he needs to learn how to handle moments when things go against him.
Spiky and sharp with the media—“paranoid” in the words of the Daily Mail—Villas-Boas jettisoned highly paid players, reportedly fell out with popular coaches and ultimately lost the faith of his chairman.
Handed £100 million to spend, he bought a bunch of players who flopped badly. Erik Lamela doesn’t play, Roberto Soldado doesn’t score and Nacer Chadli barely creates, registering one league assist all season.
Villas-Boas dug his own hole and was handed a shovel of sorts by Levy to get himself out of it, but he ultimately he left himself without anybody willing to offer a helping hand.