It takes a brave manager to criticise his club’s own fans, and an even braver one to criticise the fans that have one of the highest season ticket prices in the league.
However, that is exactly what Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas did on Sunday evening, following a tense and somewhat fortunate 1-0 win over Hull City.
In an astonishing post match interview with the BBC, Villas-Boas ripped into the home fans for giving the team “almost no support,” whilst claiming that Spurs: “looked like the away team.”
Whilst there is no doubt that this represents a bold move from the Tottenham manager, he is also spot on with his criticisms.
Particularly in the last two seasons, the atmosphere at White Hart Lane has been diabolical at times. The expectation that surrounds the ground before match day puts incredible pressure on the players to perform and has often lead to timid and frustrating performances in front of the home crowd.
It would be ludicrous to suggest that yesterday’s performance was even remotely comprehensive. Spurs looked uncertain and bereft of ideas at times, and struggled to break down a well-organised Hull defensive unit, winning 1-0 thanks to a very debatable penalty converted by Roberto Soldado.
However, it must be remembered that Spurs are naturally a more effective counter attacking side, with the pace of the likes of Townsend, Lennon and Walker enabling the team to break away quickly and surprise teams away from home. Having a larger share of possession and being forced to break down sides is not something that is naturally suited to Spurs’ game, and therefore home performances are always likely to be more frustrating at times.
Furthermore, Spurs are still a side very much in transition, with a number of new faces taking time to settle in at the club. The side is yet to take off this season in the league, winning four games already by a single goal margin. The lack of cohesion in their forward play is evident for all to see, but will improve once the team starts to gel as a unit.
Far from receiving a backlash from fans following Villas-Boas’ comments, many supporters agree that the atmosphere at White Hart Lane is a matter for concern. On Monday the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust admitted there was ‘room for improvement at home’ after two less than convincing displays in recent weeks.
Amongst all of this, it must not be forgotten that the club are sitting handsomely in 4th place in the league, just three points behind north London rivals and table-toppers Arsenal.
Andre Villas-Boas is doing a fantastic job for Tottenham, and now the supporters must back the team and ensure White Hart Lane becomes a fortress once more.