Andre Villas-Boas' Refusal to Change Required Tottenham to Make a Change for Him

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Andre Villas-Boas' Refusal to Change Required Tottenham to Make a Change for Him
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Even during his final presser as Tottenham coach, Andre Villas-Boas ran out the same lines about where the team was as a whole.

Via Metro:

This is a top-four squad but in our Premier League form we are not there.

It’s the second expressive scoreline that we’ve suffered in the season.

We admit in the Premier League things aren’t going in any shape or form the way we want.

...

Our run is magnificent in other competitions, but not in the Premier League. That is the reality that we face. The reality is we have had some injuries which have forced us to adapt. But we assume that we can do better. It is up to us once again to give a response as we should.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Yet while his squad was being mauled in the previous two hours—or "expressed" upon as the Portuguese manager said seemingly a half dozen times afterward—AVB could hardly crack a facial expression.

The symphony of destruction that Liverpool were tuning up upon his hapless Spurs outfit was the kind of beating that can wreck an entire season, let alone on the back of a 6-0 bludgeoning barely a month before hand at the Etihad.

And for the first time, it showed as the Tottenham players, sans Lewis Holtby, gave up on the game. Sure, the players were moving and functioning as footballers should, but there was a noticeable extinguishing of any fire in the side.

It was at that point that even the most ardent of AVB backers knew what only AVB refused to accept: A new head coach would be taking the reins at Tottenham Hotspur in short order.

Having no interest in adapting to the current circumstances presented to him, the Tottenham boss was slowly tightening the noose around his own neck yet refusing to believe there was a trapdoor beneath his feet.

Considering that coming into the match, Luis Suarez himself had scored as many times as Spurs had, one would think that a change in mindset would precipitate Villas-Boas’ thinking. Nay would be the answer to such a thought.

Playing Kyle Naughton at left-back, even though it was becoming painfully obvious as to why Jan Vertonghen had been spending so much time there, was a sign that AVB was not about to change his methodology.

Never mind that Nacer Chadli, an inverted winger, was placed in front of an inverted left-back, leaving the entire left side of Tottenham’s defense woefully exposed and, in time, ruthlessly devoured.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

(As an aside, it is pretty harsh on Chadli considering this was probably his best performance for Spurs, not to mention the one outfield player capable of causing the Reds any problems whatsoever.)

Never mind that Andros Townsend, who has come on in the last few matches in a cameo role, showed more verve and attack than Aaron Lennon did for the whole match.

Never mind that Holtby, who came on as a sub, showed more verve and fight than three-fourths of the starting XI.

Never mind the fact that the squad, even in the few moments that they attacked with any fire, hit the same cul-de-sacs, the same dead ends and had the same clueless looks on their faces when in the final third.

If you can get past that, and that is asking a lot, then the final 10 minutes were enough to convince anyone that Villas-Boas was done and dusted.

A bad match was still viable at 2-0. A thrashing was still passable at 3-0. Quitting became the theme at 4-0. Total and irrevocable humiliation came at 5-0.

And yet there was Villas-Boas at the presser, still clutching to his progress in the Europa League.

That stubborn streak of thinking that progress in the cups would be enough for the club hierarchy was as brash and troubling as his disregard for tinkering with something aside from the lineup card. There was little doubt why AVB was brought to the club in the first place, and that reason was Champions League football.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

A cup was never going to do anything other than irk Levy and the rest of the Tottenham brass if there was no European football at the highest level to go with it.

Yet much like his formation and tactics, there was a stubborn belief that if he got a cup, Villas-Boas would be immune from such expectations. As he has found out now, his belief and Levy’s demands were not, in fact, one and the same.

For all of AVB’s qualities, those same post-match presser lines were the symbolic epitome of the Portuguese man. The same thing was presented, trotted out time and time again, even when things were clearly not right nor working. Whether it was words, formations or methods, AVB refused to change his style, and instead he is changing job titles.

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