“I won’t resign and I’m not a quitter,” said the Portuguese when asked about his future. If the look on Daniel Levy’s face was anything to go by during yesterday’s capitulation at White Hart Lane, it seems increasingly likely Villas-Boas won’t have much say in the matter.
Tottenham’s cause this season is hardly doomed. Admittedly an impressive start has quickly tailed off and a goals for column that is dwarfed by Luis Suarez’s individual return — the Liverpool striker has scored 17 league goals while Villas-Boas’s squad have mustered just 15 altogether — is a significant worry. But Spurs still lie seventh, five points off the top four and, having qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League, they face West Ham in the Capital One Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
The case against the young manager, though, is building and the charge sheet is headed by his apparent inability to blend the £158 million (€187m) or so worth of incoming transfers into a side capable of doing something more than simply clinging onto the coat-tails of the leading group.
This is a squad, remember, that, according to former star Garth Crooks “sold Elvis and bought the Beatles” when they effectively traded Gareth Bale for a group of players headed by Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen. So far the incomers have struggled to pick up their instruments, let along pick out a decent tune.
The comparison with Liverpool was hard to ignore. Both clubs have spent heavily in recent years, are managed by highly-rated young coaches and are battling to break up the established top four of recent seasons.
Yet while Rodgers’ side demonstrated a verve and cohesion that showcased highly talented individuals within a well-drilled unit, Tottenham looked ponderous and uncertain.
Villas-Boas cited Paulinho’s sending off as a reason why his side were unable to get a foothold to lift themselves back into the game and prevent the late onslaught that made a heavy defeat appear even messier.
That, however, was little more than smoke and mirrors. Just as he had been forced to do in the wake of the 6-0 humbling at Manchester City, the manager sought positives where there were few. And at a club where the boardroom is not known for its patience, that’s an uncomfortable place to be for Villas-Boas.
“I have to get down to work. That’s the only thing I can focus on,” he said.
“The call on that decision [his future] is not mine. The only thing I can do is work hard with the players and try and get results back on track.
“We could have been level on points today with Liverpool, but it went the other way round. It’s not the points tally that prevents us from dreaming with our position in the league. It’s actually the expression of the results which has been difficult, from 3-0 [home defeat] to West Ham, 6-0 [at City] and 5-0. These things are costing us much more. But there’s still time to get things back on track in the league.
“We all have high expectations this season, and we still have them. We’re not far off. But the distance is increasingly from those Champions League spots.
“We still dream of winning a trophy this season, but the reality is we’re still completely far off our expectations in the Premier League.”
An honest analysis. The test now is whether Villas-Boas can find a solution to his side’s problems.
The January transfer window presents an opportunity to address the imbalances in the squad but results between now and then will determine whether the Portuguese is given the opportunity to oversee the required changes.