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Was Harry hard done by as AVB takes his place at Spurs?

by Rob Dore | July 2, 2012

A mere four months after his acrimonious sacking from Chelsea, Andre-Villas Boas has been hired on a three-year deal as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Questions still remain over the decision to sack Harry Redknapp after three and a half years of good success and more will be raised by the decision to replace him with the 34-year old Portuguese manager. Particularly coming so soon after AVB failed so spectacularly at Stamford Bridge.

The man who will be held accountable for the entire affair is Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. Fans will fear that he is a rampant egotist who has failed to appreciate the strides Tottenham Hotspur has made under Harry Redknapp. That he is completely clueless about what it takes to get a club to title winning standards.

Upon initial inspection, it certainly seems as though the Spurs chairman has given up a bird in the hand for just one bin the bush.

When Redknapp took over from Juande Ramos in October 2008, the club was bottom of the Premier League eight games in to the season. He immediately turned their fortunes around, taking them to eight in the table and a point from European football. The following season brought fourth place and Champions League qualification for the first time.

He was unable to repeat the trick in 2010-2011, ending the season in fifth, but he earned Spurs their second top four finish in three seasons in May of this year. Chelsea winning the Champions League and finishing fifth denied Spurs a place in the competition but a very reasonable goal had been reached, if not rewarded.

Is the grass really greener?

When you take a closer look at the net spend of other teams then perhaps Levy was right to expect more.

Over the last four seasons:

  • Spurs have spent £145.7m on players, recouping £136.75m for a net spend of just £8.95m
  • Over the same period Manchester City’s net spend is a gargantuan £382.15m

Looking at those numbers, it’s a miracle Spurs can compete in the same league. However City are something of a special case.

  • Manchester United, winners of two of the last three Premier Leagues, have a net spend of just £20.95m
  • Arsenal’s spend over this period is -£45.3m

Money is a big factor in football but United and Arsenal have shown that you don’t need to spend as big as City to be a Champions League regular.

Spurs certainly took some steps forward under Redknapp but Daniel Levy’s decision to sack him has some grounding. The manner in which the team collapsed last season will have concerned the chairman. Following Fabio Capello quitting as England boss, Redknapp began to be heavily linked with the job.

At the time Spurs were 10 points clear of fourth placed Arsenal but 16 points from the last 13 games of the season saw them drop to fourth and ultimately miss out on the Champions League. This may seem somewhat harsh but considering Redknapp has won just one major trophy in nearly 30 years of management, the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, Levy may have become concerned that whilst a good manager, Redknapp just isn’t a winner.

Then there was the unwanted publicity from his tax evasion case and the smug manner with which he courted the media in the aftermath. Indulging in the widely held presumption that he would be leading the Three Lions at Euro 2012. Hardly fatal mistakes but certainly enough to get Levy thinking.

When Redknapp failed to get the England job and then demanded a contract extension at the end of the season, Levy decided it was time for a change.

Second time lucky for AVB in the Premier League?

In his very short managerial career Andre Villas Boas has already achieved more than Redknapp. Most Premier League fans will remember him more for his ill-fated spell at Stamford Bridge last season but before Chelsea he was being lauded as the new Mourinho. But less smug. His one season at Porto saw him win the Portuguese league title, two domestic cups and the Europa League. Failing at Chelsea may have over-shadowed these achievements for some but it hasn’t erased them.

Rumours have it that AVB will be handed a £70m transfer budget to build the team he wants. He’s also guaranteed to be given more than the eight months he was afforded by the demanding Roman Abramovich, so we should get a better indication of how good a manager he is.

This is a big risk for Levy. Redknapp was delivering a consistent, if limited, level of success at White Hart Lane. Levy wants more than to be desperately clinging on to fourth place come the end of the season. Rightly or wrongly he feels Spurs should be competing for the league title and he has put his money on Andre Villas Boas to get them there. Only time will tell whether this particular will pay off. If it doesn’t expect to see some top notch gloating from Redknapp… through his car window of course.

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