at the Theatre of Dreams
By Oli Gamp
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE?
Why has Old Trafford always gone by the same nickname? How is it a club can go from being in a so-called ‘crisis’, to being ‘at the start of something special’ by winning there?
The media have always been locked onto Andre Villas-Boas, and they've been firing at will from the moment he took over the reigns at Stamford Bridge. He’s been engulfed in stormy seas and a whirlwind of negative press ever since, and like a bully to a skinny, defenceless boy, they've been doing their up most to
make his life a living hell. Why? What’s he done wrong?
Well, let see.
He was an average 16-year-old living in Porto, no bigger than you or me, until one day he bumped into Sir Bobby Robson (then Porto boss) and had a go at him about his team selection for the weekend game.
Sir Bobby liked his courage and insight.
18 years later and he finds himself manager of arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world. So you think you can just waltz into football management do you AVB? You never kicked a ball at a professional level and you reckon you can become the next Jose. The British Press have found it tough to appreciate Villas- Boas’s journey to a Premier League hotseat.
Surely this could have happened to anyone; to me, to you. He just happened to be staying in the same apartment block as Sir Bobby, who might well have just been feeling generous and in a good mood. Any other manager might have told him to scram.
Robson was very good at his job. He wouldn't go round handing out jobs to any yob on the street who knew what the offside rule was. He saw something in Villas-Boas. This background is somewhat forgotten by some members of the press, who see his Porto treble as a fluke and his knowledge of the modern game to be sketchy and unconventional. They did a great job of helping Chelsea out with sacking too.
“Villas-Boas asks Chelsea stars to involve him in goal celebrations.” Come on. This is a manager whose team talk at the Europa League final reduced the substitute goalkeeper to tears. A classic example non-story, but one that quickly gathered pace due to a few guillable ears and AVB’s easy-target nature. This was just one case of blatant media attacks on the Portuguese and it didn't stop there. ‘AVB in a rift with Frank Lampard’ ‘Terry no longer backing AVB’
The list goes on.
These non-stories made his position at Chelsea simply untenable. In fact, before he even joined Spurs it was being reported in the media that there was a ‘revolt’ amongst players after hearing the news that he was set to take over. Every week since his arrival we've heard rumours of player unrest and a disagreement of
tactics; they just wouldn't leave him alone. They of course jumped on the opportunity to stir up his decision to bench summer signing Hugo Lloris, claiming that he had ‘already fallen out’ with the player just days after putting pen to paper at the club.
So where does it end? What does the guy have to do to shut everyone up? How about beating Man United on their own turf? That just might silence the critics. For months and months the press have been waiting around to be proved wrong about AVB. They've been longing for a moment like Saturday night to see if he’s really got what it takes to succeed in this league. He delivered. His team delivered. Five goals were scored at Old Trafford, but it wasn't the romp we were all expecting. Despite all United’s possession, Spurs got three of them. It just goes to show that if you attack Manchester United, they’re vulnerable and some of the counter-attacking football on display was a master class. Villas-Boas sussed this last year with Chelsea, but his team didn't possess the pace he was after. Now suddenly he’s working with the likes of Lennon, Bale, Defoe and it really works.
The result showed he not only got his tactics spot on, but he gave his players the right mentality to knock United off their feet and put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Very few teams come away from Old Trafford with three points, but with three victories on the bounce now for young AVB, his faltering career might well be at the start of something special, and he could be about to earn the respect he truly deserves as a head coach and as a fascinating character on the touchline.