Festive season brings little cheer for Spurs fans

The club need a shining star to guide them after Andre Villas-Boas proved to be neither the saviour nor the messiah

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 11:02pm

Thinking about soccer when watching a primary school nativity play probably breaches seasonal protocol.

But after the day's drama in North London, it was a struggle to focus on the Angel Gabriel and shepherds shuffling between corral and stable without a sympathetic thought for sacked Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas.

With the phone secretly inserted in the play's programme, the breaking news claimed his departure was "by mutual consent". Puh! As if, after the 5-0 home thumping by Liverpool the day earlier.

When the cast and choir struck up O Come All Ye Faithful, one wondered if there were any Spurs fans among the watery-eyed parents in the audience, and if so, were they shedding a tear for reasons other than the sight of Mary grasping her plastic infant doll with all the determination of a try-bound Hong Kong Sevens player?

One was reminded of Tottenham's demanding and impatient owners when Joseph sharp-elbowed one of the over-eager Orient Kings away from the manger - how just like chairman Daniel Levy and his serial dispatching of those who disappoint with their offerings!

School nativities are chock full of dramatic junior art mirroring the brutal world of the EPL, it seems.

Faith and compassion have been replaced with Dickensian bitterness and disappointment this Christmas

With the guiding star (impersonated by a silvery-costumed Year 4 pupil) illuminating a promising future as it floated across the school stage, one immediately thought of all the silverware and floating beyond the reach of Spurs' fans for yet another season.

You can hardly accuse Tottenham of being Scrooges with £105 million-plus spent on new players in the last transfer window. But where is it written that success can be simply bought with all the money a Gareth Bale sell-off can provide?

Faith and compassion have been replaced with Dickensian bitterness and disappointment this Christmas.

Fans booed after such a staggering display of incompetence against Liverpool and who can blame them? They failed to record a shot on goal for the first time in the EPL at White Hart Lane - and for the third time anywhere since 2006-07.

Sure, Luis Suarez gave another sublime performance but the horror show came so soon after the 6-0 thrashing by Manchester City, a humiliation which was, according to Villas-Boas, "a one-off".

Little wonder he could not conceal his sense of doom when the final whistle blew; he knew he was "a sacked manager walking" when he slumped down the tunnel.

He had been out of his depth in the tumultuous waters of the EPL, a league he joined on the back of great success at Porto.

He was hailed as a bright spark ready to take the world's toughest league by storm when he joined Chelsea in 2011.

With a razor-sharp mind and a genius' obsession for stats and computer projection models, the ice-cool technocrat soon found his oligarch employer a difficult master to please, and after nine months he was heading to North London to replace the sacked Harry Redknapp.

Many believed Spurs had found the architect to construct a team to take them to new heights. After the club had spent so much trying to counteract the sale of Bale to Real Madrid, the fifth Tottenham manger in eight years was expected to deliver.

Yet despite a promising start the wheels started to wobble just as they did at Chelsea.

Villas-Boas is said to often appear arrogant and confrontational. He and Levy rarely saw eye to eye, more so over some of the questionable summer signings, the head coach's sterile style, lone striker and defensive strategies.

He did indeed win more points last season than the man he replaced, though he finished a place lower, and Redknapp had inherited a team bottom of the league.

Villas-Boas did average 1.83 points per league match, the highest of all Spurs bosses in the EPL era.

And true, Tottenham were seventh on the day of his departure and only five points off of the top four. But the team had collected only two points from 18 in the matches against those above them, and scored a single goal in the process. The gulf between Spurs and the rivals they aim to match was made crystal clear last weekend.

Spurs have the same goal difference as West Ham in 17th place and have scored fewer league goals than Suarez, who did not start his Premier League campaign until September 29.

Spurs owner Joe Lewis and Levy are little different from the owners of Chelsea and Manchester City. They demand an instant return on their investment.

Short-termism is their name of the game. Time is money. There is a honeymoon period only - and that is expected to last in perpetuity and be peppered with titles, Champions League and the odd cup.

Levy and Lewis - and likely the majority of fans, too - deemed another heavy defeat unacceptable and acted in the hope they still have time to bring in a season saviour to reach the Promised Land.

Tottenham face Southampton away on Sunday. Usually teams are wary of opponents recently relieved of controversial managers because they respond with a return to winning ways.

But interim replacement coach, ex-Spurs player Tim Sherwood, had a miserable start against West Ham midweek, losing 2-1 in the Capital Cup; morale is far from festive.

Hopefully, the finale carol of the nativity play, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, was an omen for one Saints fan in the audience who could be heard happily singing "O tidings of comfort and joy . . .".