Tottenham currently sit fifth on the Premier League table, two points behind Arsenal with a game in hand. Andre Villas-Boas and his men will look to sub-plant their London rivals in the race for the Champions League spot.
This weekend, we saw Spurs take a slender 1-0 win over Southampton – thanks to a peacher of a goal by Gareth Bale. But all is not going Spurs’ way as they will visit another London rival and AVB’s former employers, Chelsea, this midweek.
Chelsea are in superb form under Rafael Benitez. Since their 2-2 draw against Liverpool, Chelsea have won all of their four games, including winning both legs against FC Basel in the Europa League and defeating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.
The Blues at Stamford Bridge is nothing but an uphill task for Andre Villas-Boas’ men and it seems like a fair test for the White Hart Lane club. Success will see them secure their top-four spot. Remember, Spurs managed to beat second-placed Manchester City 3-1 only a couple of weeks ago.
Heading into the most important week of Spurs’ season, their manager Andre Villas-Boas spoke to Yahoo as part of their deal with the League Managers Association. In the interview, Villas-Boas talked about the competitiveness of his team, Gareth Bale, Lewis Holtby and the German Bundesliga.
Andre Villas-Boas interview
Question: There seems to be a real cohesion about your team and they appear to really enjoy playing with each other, how have you managed to bring out those qualities?
Andre Villas-Boas: That is mostly down to them and their ambition to reach the Champions League. They were very unfortunate last season although it meant success for Chelsea which is always good for the English game. You can see how much these players want it, though, and you can see that power on a weekly basis.
Q: You have been competitive on a few fronts this season, as a manager how do you keep things fresh and keep the players focused?
AVB: It’s difficult but sometimes it’s what the players want. The more competitions the more chances you have to play and enjoy yourself on the pitch. It is different for every player but there are players who prefer a routine with a midweek game with all the pressure and adrenaline that comes with it, they live off that.
When we went out of the Europa League our habits changed in that we started training all week to prepare for the end of week game, it’s not a big strain for us because we’re on 51 games now and will finish with 55. That means we will have responded well to different competitions and the boys deserve praise for coping with that.
Q: One of your key players is Gareth Bale who won the PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers Player of the Year, how would you characterise his performances for you this season?
AVB: Great, he has been outstanding this season. He has enjoyed his performances and that is vital for any football player. Managers have to guard against limiting them through too much organisation, but that hasn’t been the case with Gareth who has played in a different position to the one he has played in before.
Doing that has given him the chance to score more goals which has contributed to his wonderful season, plus he has the ambition to be at the very top.
Q: Do you think we’ll see a definitive move for him to the centre and what is it about his qualities as a player that made you bring him in from the wing?
AVB: It was born out of an experiment in Baltimore, America when we played Liverpool in a preseason game. Fortunately it is something that worked for us and due to a couple of injuries it was something that we had to keep trying.
We fine-tuned Gareth to play there and he has been tremendous because his talent allows him to be adaptable. I’m not sure that the shift is definitive but it does give us the option of using him in different positions. At the moment, though, the goals he is getting are giving him the buzz to play there.
Q: You signed Lewis Holtby from Schalke 04 in January, given what we have seen from Bundesliga clubs this season do you think English clubs will be looking more towards German clubs to recruit players?
AVB: They might do, the Barclays Premier League is still the best league in the world and will attract the best players in the world including those from Germany. They know how competitive this league is and the exposure it has, the German league has great exposure too but not of the same power as the Barclays Premier League.
So, we’ll continue to attract the best young players, but that should not limit the chances that our own young players have to break through and develop.
For more insight from Andre Villas-Boas and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport