AVB lost in a Bale vacuum
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Exactly three months ago, during Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League game against Tromso at White Hart Lane, the club's former goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt was asked about the departure of Gareth Bale. "We've sold Elvis but brought the Beatles," said the Norwegian.
He was referring to the signings of Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Paulinho, and other players who were brought in by Andre Villas-Boas for a collective fee of close to £110 million.
Bale's £86 million move to Real Madrid was too big an offer to resist, but club chairman Daniel Levy was gracious enough to loosen the purse strings to allow his manager more rounded options.
Bale scored 26 goals for Spurs last season and provided the X-Factor. It was, however, said by both Villas-Boas and Levy, that without him, the team would be more collective in their effort.
Those hopes have fallen flat after a five-goal drubbing by Liverpool on Sunday. Little wonder that it opened the touchline trapdoor for Villas-Boas.
After spending big in the closed season, the minimum requirement for the 36-year-old Portuguese was a Champions League qualification. As Christmas approaches, Spurs are now five points behind the fourth-placed City, having scored just 15 goals in 16 Premier League matches.
Villas-Boas was unlucky with Eriksen's injury. At the same time, he failed to come up with a 'Plan B'. At times, he looked clueless without an impact player like Bale. He kept on playing the misfiring Soldado, ignoring the more experienced Jermain Defoe which, didn't make him popular with the club management or fans. He has also failed to bring out the best from Lamela.
Villas-Boas' appointment in place of Harry Redknapp in June 2012 was a surprise move. Under Redknapp, Spurs finished fourth in the Premiership in the season before the last and failed to qualify for the Champions League only because Chelsea went on to win the tournament. Villas-Boas had been sacked by Chelsea a few months earlier, still Levy considered him good enough for the Spurs job. Eighteen months hence, the chairman has realised his mistake.