The rebuilding job starts here. This time last year, Andre Villas-Boas was the most coveted coach in European football, a clutch of the game’s top clubs interested in taking this most prestigious of talents away from the sensational job he performed at Porto.
Yet fast forward a year and AVB has plenty to prove. Winning the treble with Porto, including the Portuguese league title and Europa League, in his debut campaign was a scarcely believable feat, but his subsequent stint in charge of Chelsea has left questions that the 34-year-old will be desperate to answer.
Unceremoniously sacked by Roman Abramovich just nine months into his Stamford Bridge career following a dressing room revolt, Villas-Boas then had the ignominy of seeing his assistant Roberto di Matteo lead the club to Champions League glory: glory that, ironically, relegated Spurs to this year’s Europa League.
Given it is early in the pre-season preparations, the 6/5 that tonight produces fewer than 2.5 goals is the bet here. Without his Euro 2012 players, Villas-Boas will select an experimental team mixing youth and experience, and as such, fluidity of play will be an issue.
Opinion seems split on Villas-Boas, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy clearly has faith and so Harry Redknapp’s successor begins his bid to repay that with a trip to Stevenage this evening for his first game in charge.
Despite being at home, the League One outfit are priced up as outsiders with bwin at 21/4, with the draw at 31/10 and Spurs understandably strong favourites at 21/50.
This fixture is a repeat of last season’s FA Cup fifth round, when Stevenage took Tottenham to a replay after a 0-0 draw at home, with Spurs eventually prevailing 3-1 at White Hart Lane.
It was part of a great season for the Boro, who overcame the loss of Graham Westley, the man who led them from the Conference to League One, to reach the play-offs, only to lose narrowly to Sheffield United in the semi-finals.
Westley’s replacement Gary Smith kept the Stevenage bandwagon rolling impressively and the cornerstone of that success was a solid defensive foundation – Boro kept 15 clean sheets and only champions Charlton conceded fewer goals – and I see no reason for that stinginess to change.
So given it is early in the pre-season preparations, the 6/5 that tonight produces fewer than 2.5 goals is the bet here. Without his Euro 2012 players, Villas-Boas will select an experimental team mixing youth and experience, and as such, fluidity of play will be an issue.
Fitness is the name of the game for both teams at this stage, so their levels of performance are largely irrelevant and with memories of a recent 0-0 draw fresh, there could be a lack of action at The Lamex tonight.
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