Spurs fans have uneasy sense of déjà vu about AVB

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Tottenham may look comfortable in fifth place after five wins, including their first in 23 years at Old Trafford, but the natives are getting restless.

Saturday’s humiliating home defeat by Wigan highlighted their concerns that Andre Villas-Boas is not up to the job, and the more pessimistic among them have an uneasy sense of déjà vu about the Portuguese manager, whose tenure at Chelsea started to unravel this time last year.

The signs are all there — inconsistent performances and results, unhappy supporters and problems with star players. It is as if AVB has failed to learn from the mistakes he made at Stamford Bridge.

He continues to tinker with his tactics, insisting on playing a defensive system at home with only one striker, despite the lack of goals and results this has brought. This was the first time in 30 home league matches that Tottenham had failed to score, and their first back-to-back home league defeats since the era before Harry Redknapp.

No wonder some supporters were calling for the return of the manager who took Spurs into the Champions League and had them playing what Alex Ferguson called the best football in the Premier League last season.

Under AVB’s defensive approach, Spurs start games notoriously slowly at home, where they have yet to record a goal in the opening 45 minutes. That they extended it to the full 90 on Saturday was not helped by the manager’s baffling decision in the 57th minute to take off top scorer Jermain Defoe, the man who put five past Wigan in a 9-1 rout three years ago.

Defoe stormed off down the tunnel, with Villas-Boas’s decision loudly booed by unhappy fans, and his replacement, Emmanuel Adebayor, said to be looking at a return to Spain, fared no better.

Wigan, by contrast, were everything Spurs supporters expect their side to be. Bright, incisive, with crisp passing, defensive solidity and swift counter-attacking. They had the three best chances of the game before Ben Watson scored the decisive goal, shortly before Defoe’s controversial substitution.

The former Crystal Palace midfielder was left unmarked by William Gallas at a corner and volleyed past Brad Friedel, who had earlier kept Wigan at bay with superb saves from Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney.

Gallas looked for someone else to blame – where have we seen that before – and it all left the impression of a side in need of proper leadership and inspiration. But none appears to be forthcoming from Villas-Boas, who blamed the players’ “emotions and anxiety” for their poor home form, which has brought just two victories and eight goals from seven matches in all competitions at White Hart Lane.

“Certainly at home we want to play better. This is a great stadium, great environment and we want to use the power of the stadium to lift us up,” he said.

He claimed – erroneously – that Spurs have improved away from home: “We’ve already doubled or quadrupled our away points that Tottenham had this year.”

In fact Tottenham had won four of their opening six away games at this stage last season. He also failed to convince that one striker is better than two. “We have been successful in the past with one striker off the other. It’s not impossible that we will play with two strikers but it’s not a system we have started with. ”

Roberto Martinez made it clear his players no longer think of themselves as relegation candidates. “There has been a change of mentality, and I think we showed that today. We came here and played our football and got three well deserved points.”

TOTTENHAM: Friedel (7); Walker (6) , Gallas (6), Caulker (7), Vertonghen (7); Lennon (6), Sandro (6), Huddlestone (6), Dempsey (5), Bale (7); Defoe (6).

Subs for Spurs: Sigurdsson (5) for Sandro (23), Adebayor (6) for Defoe (57), Carroll (6) for Walker (78).

WIGAN: Al Habsi (7); Boyce (7), Ramis (7), G Caldwell (8), Figueroa (7); McCarthy (7), Watson (8), Beausejour (6); Maloney (7), Kone (7), Di Santo (6).

Sub for Wigan: Gomez (6) for Di Santo (70).

Referee: Martin Atkinson (8).

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