Tuesday 02 July 2013
Andre Villas-Boas is relishing returning to Hong Kong with Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Asia Trophy, which represents an “extremely important” part of the team’s preparation for the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League.
"The Barclays Asia Trophy lets you step up a level in terms of opposition"
The Tottenham head coach won the 2011 version of the competition, the only Premier League competition to be held outside Great Britain, when in charge of Chelsea, and Vilas-Boas sees it as a good chance to test the level of his squad ahead of their opening fixture away to Crystal Palace. Spurs take on Sunderland in the first match in Hong Kong Stadium on 24 July before meeting Manchester City or South China three days later.
“It is extremely important for us for our preparation,” Villas-Boas said. “The Barclays Asia Trophy lets you step up a level in terms of opposition because of the other teams that are involved in it and gives us the opportunity to go abroad and continue our preparation in good facilities and in a comparative environment like the one we are going to face over there.”
In his first season in charge at White Hart Lane, Villas-Boas guided his team to their best-ever points total in the Barclays Premier League, but it was not enough to break into the top four and so Villas-Boas is keen to have the right preparation in place to get Spurs off to a winning start.
“The most important thing is for you to set up quickly and ready, always raising the competitive levels of the opposition that you are going to face, and the Barclays Asia Trophy offers exactly that,” Villas-Boas said.
The head coach also acknowledges the importance of fans of the Barclays Premier League in the Far East having the opportunity to see their heroes up close. Spurs have established close ties in Hong Kong including a partnership with South China and fan clubs in the region so to reward their supporters by playing in front of them is even more rewarding.
"The Barclays Premier League has become such a powerful product worldwide you have to understand that touching the emotions of the people there is important"
“Sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to meet and greet and engage fans that are in Asia particularly,” said the Portuguese tactician. “It’s very, very difficult for them to come across and see our games.
“The Barclays Premier League has become such a powerful product worldwide and sometimes you have to understand that touching the emotions of the people that are there is important. So it [the trip to Hong Kong] is something that we look forward to.”
Villas-Boas is also looking forward to pitting his wits against his Sunderland counterpart Paolo Di Canio, whom he beat on the final day of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season thanks to a wonderful late strike from Gareth Bale. Playing Sunderland will prove a good test of his team’s progress, says the 35-year-old, thanks to the competitive element the Italian will instil in his team.
“We will never doubt Paolo’s own self-motivation and his ability to inflict motivation in his team,” Villas-Boas said. “He’s going to prepare the team well, they will be up and ready for the challenge and it’s good to have Sunderland in the tournament.”