by David Sweeney
12 months on, new club, new players but it’s the same old story for poor old Andre Villas Boas who despite starting his Tottenham career with relatively easy fixtures has overseen his sorry Spurs side to just two points thus far and can consider themselves lucky to have them. Yesterday Norwich outclassed Tottenham and should have won the game if it wasn’t for a mixture of wasteful finishing and an inspired Brad Friedel. Again similarly to last summer his signings have been decent – Sigurdsson, Dembele and Dempsey are proven players in the Premier League and will do well for Tottenham – however in my opinion they are a downgrade on his two outgoing midfielders, Van Der Vaart and especially Modric,
People continuously cite his spectacular season in charge of Porto in an attempt to justify him as a top class manager when in reality he won a poor league, which the club had won 8 out of the 10 previous seasons. He also won the Portuguese cup which incidentally Porto were already the holders of. Hats off to him for his Europa League win but it is worth noting that Porto held a good record as an established Champions League team, regularly reaching the knockout stages.
So after three games without a win and being booed off in just his second home game AVB is not making things easy for himself. He has stated that the expectation is top four and with Liverpool, Arsenal and to some extent Chelsea in a period of transition, on the outset this puts Spurs in a great position to realise this expectation and possibly finish third. However to do so they will have to improve and quickly or else I can see Daniel Levy being as ruthless as Abramovich was.
Not a mauling, more a slight concern for the champions as they produced yet another unconvincing display to see off QPR. Although seven points from three games is a solid start to the season the performances have been poor. Last season the Blues boasted the best defence in the division, judging on current form, it would take a minor miracle for them to repeat the feat this time around. Almost every time QPR went forward they looked likely to score with City looking very shaky at the back. Part of the problem in my opinion is that the Blues badly miss Gareth Barry’s steadying influence and positional nous, as although he has had a good start to his City career Jack Rodwell is simply too inexperienced to provide sufficient protection to Kompany and Lescott. This leaves the pairing exposed and at times yesterday QPR were attacking with four against four.
On the plus side the deadline day business done by the club was shrewd. Maicon will add much needed experience, Sinclair will inject pace, and the towering Garcia should slot into the midfield enabling Yaya to push forward into the position where we have all seen how devastating he can be. Improvements on the pitch have to be made and probably will be. Hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.
Brendan Rodgers new look Liverpool produced yet another lacklustre display as they were deservedly beaten by Arsenal. I’m not convinced Rodgers is the right man to lead the Reds into this bright new era their American owners seem intent on entering into. Let’s look at his managerial career: here is a guy that got booted out of Watford and Reading, deemed not good enough, before landing the job at Swansea, where fellow contender for the Anfield hot seat Roberto Martinez had already put in place the foundations for The Swans free flowing style. I had the pleasure of watching Martinez’s Swans rip apart Sheffield Wednesday during his final season in charge of the Welsh club and the patient passing coupled with a solid defence was already there, all that Rodgers did was use his Premier League contacts to add an extra bit of quality which ultimately proved to be the difference as Scott Sinclair’s play off final double secured promotion.
He has already made himself look foolish by stating ‘I would need to be a nutcase to even consider at this moment to let Carroll go out, unless there are other solutions for that. At the moment there isn’t.’ Two weeks later, without bringing in a replacement, Andy Carroll joined West Ham on loan. That is their major problem, a lack of depth coupled with an average first team. If Suarez or Borini gets injured they are in deep trouble.
Despite Everton’s defeat yesterday they have started the season impressively and with Liverpool facing a tough trip to Sunderland followed by the visit of Manchester United to Anfield they could very easily go into the first Merseyside derby of the season with 1 point from 15.
Picking up the pieces of an overpriced average squad rashly assembled by ‘King Kenny’ is a tough job and it may prove too much for Rodgers this season and as Roy Hodgson quickly found out, if your face doesn’t fit with the Anfield faithful, patience isn’t exactly a trademark of theirs.
Referee Carl Berry
You know you have made a terrible mistake as a referee when both managers are in agreement about your ineptness over one incident but ref Carl Berry managed to get both barrels from Michael Appleton and Paul Dickov as he sent off Pompey’s Jordan Obita and Oldham’s Cliff Byrne. Not only were the sendings off soft but ref Berry sent off the wrong Oldham player. Byrne hadn’t even been involved in the incident – it was Connor Brown who was the guilty party. An angry Appleton slammed Berry stating ‘the game was too big for him’ and to be fair from what I witnessed of his farcical performance he was probably right.