Hey guys, Spurs have a chance to advance to the semi final of a cup competition today, so it's time to get excited about the game, right?
Lads, it's Tottenham.
Which means instead of any of that nonsense, it is actually time to talk about ridiculous things that happened over a year ago and have nothing to do with what will happen on the pitch today. Almost a year after he left Spurs, our former manager gave an interview to Portuguese TV channel TVI last night.
Aside from admitting he had talks with Liverpool (oh please please please please let this happen), he had a lot to say about his time in North London.
"Tottenham set a points and victories record in my first season, and missed out on the Champions League by one point and had a great run in the Europa League. In the second season, at the time I left we had more points than in the previous season. I ended up leaving by mutual agreement - it wasn't a sacking - because I gave full support to the football director Franco Baldini who meanwhile had other ambitions, meaning that I ended up with players that did not fit the profile I wanted.
"The chairman proposed a challenge to increase Tottenham's competitive level, but immediately Modric left and we didn't get any of the targets I had identified, such as João Moutinho, Willian, Óscar or Leandro Damião. These were promises that were not kept. I had a group of players I had not chosen. In two years I lost Van der Vaart, Modric, Bale, and all the promises made were unfulfilled. In any event I don't look at my time at Tottenham as a negative experience. It was an experience I needed to have."
Well. There's a bit to unpack here. So where to start?
The old ITK chestnut of "AVB wasn't given the players he wanted" is finally backed up by some actual facts. While we all thought it was players like Hulk, who were clearly out of reach, the targets AVB lists are a bit more reasonable. But let's go through them one by one, shall we?
- João Moutinho - He was always seen as the biggest missing piece to AVB's puzzle. Third party shenanigans screwed this up at the last minute, but we do know the club was prepared to break their transfer record for the midfielder. While it is impossible to know how he would have adapted to another team coached by AVB, we do know how he played in a team with a functioning Falcao and James Rodriguez and it was ... not so great. Since his transfer to Monaco he has looked very ordinary.
- Willian - We were going to sign Willian. He was having a medical with us until he took a phone call and left in the middle of his medical to go sign for more money with Chelsea. HE LEFT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS MEDICAL TO SIGN FOR ANOTHER TEAM. Seriously. Think about how dumb that is. How is ANYONE at Spurs responsible for that? But hey it's not like we bought AVB an excellent attacking midfielder for less money that he would go on to sit for absolutely no reason, right?
- Óscar - This Brazilian midfielder has been one of the best players in the league since he arrived. Rumor was that Spurs were in on him very early. And then Chelsea decided to outbid us, which, you know, seems to be a pattern here.
- Leandro Damião - Oh hey the guy who was going to finally solve Spurs' striker problem. The answer to our prayers. I wonder what he's up to?
So of those four players, I would say Spurs had a realistic chance to buy two. And that's depending on how fair you think Porto was being with us regarding Moutinho. Neither of the players we could have actually purchased have been very good since we were linked to them. So, you know. I don't know what was promised, and I definitely felt differently at the time we were linked to them, but these days I'm pretty glad Moutinho and Damião aren't on Spurs' books. If AVB is mad that his plan was not carried out that's fine, but in retrospect, this didn't look like a great plan. Or at least a realistic one.
Regarding Van der Vaart, Modric, and Bale? Well Van der Vaart left specifically because of AVB. If AVB thought Modric was sticking around when he signed, either basic communication doesn't occur at Spurs or AVB cannot read tea leaves that even the dumbest Spurs fan understood. And Bale? Well I'd be salty about losing the only thing capable of creating goals on my team too.
In effect, AVB is mad that we sold our best players to the biggest club in the world and were outbid for our targets by Chelsea. Did he not realize he was joining Tottenham Hotspur?
Still, AVB did have his highest point total in the Premier League and that was built on his work with Gareth Bale and the defense. He was able to parlay that into a job at the richest club in .... Russia ... which is nice. And Russian football is in such a good position that I'm sure Zenit won't be forced to sell their best players out from under him, right? Right?