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AVB starting to make his mark
The 3-1 win at Reading was pleasing not only because it secured three points for the first time this season, or that it relieved the media pressure on the manager, or for Jermain Defoe’s two goals, but also because the AVB effect was there for all to see.
Under Harry Redknapp Tottenham played a 4-4-1-1 that changed to 4-4-2 if they needed to go more attacking. About once a season the manager tried a 3-5-2 wingback system, but the formation and starting 11 was very predictable. André Villas-Boas prefers a 4-3-3 system but has had to settle for a 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 set up. He asks his players to move between the lines and show a lot more movement off the ball than Redknapp demanded. A higher pressing game is added to win the ball back quickly and high up the pitch, and the defence is not allowed to fall too deep.
Add in yet another summer upheaval in the playing staff, with creative hubs Luka Modric and Rafa van der Vaart leaving the club, and it was obviously going to take time for the manager’s ideas to filter through to the players. While that procedure is not yet finished the early signs of success were there on Sunday.
Mousa Dembele linked defence and attack superbly, complimenting Sandro to form a solid shield in front of the defence and getting Gylfi Sigurdsson on the ball a lot more. Defoe was never isolated, Aaron Lennon was in the game far more, and if the team had their shooting boots on they could hit double the three goals they managed. That they scored the second goal that had evaded them in the three previous games brought an emotive celebration from Villas-Boas.
His decision to stick with Brad Friedel was also vindicated, although the American was barely tested it does mean that new signing Hugo Lloris has to work to get the No.1 jersey. Again the media tried to make a story to undermine the Portuguese manager but the victory meant they had egg on their face.
Reading did not present the stiffest opposition, and with an in form Lazio coming to the Lane in midweek and a trip to Old Trafford at the end of the month, the progress Tottenham have made under AVB will be clearer. However, the green shoots of the manager’s plans are springing up. A couple more wins and those who doubted AVB will start to look pretty foolish.
Posted by Tottenham fan Alan Frost
Follow Alan on Twitter at @AlanFrost_HT