Friday 31 May 2013
For the Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas the Barclays Asia Trophy 2013 in Hong Kong will be a familiar occasion, having begun his tenure in charge of Chelsea in the same Hong Kong Stadium on a winning note by claiming the tournament title two years ago.
Before the end of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season Villas-Boas, in an interview with Yahoo!, explained his philosophy, how he had learnt from his time at Chelsea, where he left midway through the 2011/12 season and how Gareth Bale first adapted to the more central role in which he has thrived this season.
Yahoo! Sport: When you arrived at Spurs, how did you approach the challenge of instilling your new ideas at a club where perhaps previous philosophies had differed?
AVB: It becomes easier when the players are willing to commit to your ideas, they need to be able to take something from learning new things and also enjoy learning new things that they can use in their game. All the players have received me well and when you receive that sort of openness you can create a good environment.
"The Chelsea experience allowed me to see things in a different way and helped me address the mistakes I made; that always allows you to develop on a personal and a professional level"
Do you feel the team has fully realised the way you want to play or are there certain things you still want to refine?
AVB: There are always things to refine. It can be difficult sometimes because the nature of the Premier League means it is driven by passion and emotion, it is a game that can be influenced more by aspects of motivation and mindset than any other league in the world; this is what makes the Premier League the product that it is. So, sometimes it can be difficult to set out your philosophy but like every other team we have had great games and bad games, and games where we should have expressed ourselves better. In the end, however, we have always been recognised as a team that has always been very driven, that wants to score and that is the Tottenham way.
At Tottenham you have ambitious owners, a squad full of quality and a fantastic training ground, how much scope for growth do you think there is at this club?
AVB: The growth is continuing and I know that the owner and chairman are very driven in achieving the club's aim of building a new stadium. I think that this wonderful training ground allows the players to further flourish and develop their game. It also allows us to attract better players; it's a great environment and a great example to the Premier League.
On a personal level how do you feel you have evolved since your arrival in the Barclays Premier League with Chelsea and Tottenham?
AVB: The experiences are different and I learnt a great lesson from last year. There are things I do dramatically different and things that I do exactly the same because you still have to stay true to your principles. The Chelsea experience allowed me to see things in a different way and helped me address the mistakes I made; that always allows you to develop on a personal and a professional level.
There seems to be a real cohesion about your team and they appear to really enjoy playing with each other, how have you managed to bring out those qualities?
AVB: That is mostly down to them and their ambition to reach the Champions League. They were very unfortunate last season although it meant success for Chelsea which is always good for the English game. You can see how much these players want it, though, and you can see that power on a weekly basis.
"He [Gareth Bale] has been outstanding this season. He has enjoyed his performances and that is vital for any football player"
One of your key players is Gareth Bale who won the PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers Player of the Year, how would you characterise his performances for you this season?
AVB: Great, he has been outstanding this season. He has enjoyed his performances and that is vital for any football player. Managers have to guard against limiting them through too much organisation but that hasn’t been the case with Gareth who has played in a different position to the one he has played in before. Doing that has given him the chance to score more goals which has contributed to his wonderful season, plus he has the ambition to be at the very top.
Do you think we will see a definitive move for him to the centre and what is it about his qualities as a player that made you bring him in from the wing?
AVB: It was born out of an experiment in Baltimore, America when we played Liverpool in a pre-season game. Fortunately it is something that worked for us and due to a couple of injuries it was something that we had to keep trying. We fine-tuned Gareth to play there and he has been tremendous because his talent allows him to be adaptable. I'm not sure that the shift is definitive but it does give us the option of using him in different positions. At the moment, though, the goals he is getting are giving him the buzz to play there.
For more insight from Andre Villas-Boas and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport