Two games, two penalties scored by Roberto Soldado, two clean sheets and two wins. It’s been Tottenham’s , but the minimalist nature of the victories should not be taken as a sign of things to come. In terms of exemplifying a team’s characteristics, the results of Spurs’ opening two are about in line with Harry Redknapp deciding the is really not for him.
For if one thing is pretty much guaranteed in the coming months, it is that Spurs season ticket holders will be getting their money’s worth entertainment-wise. The makeup of the playing staff is still taking shape, with André Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy widely assumed to be spending the world record fee they’re about to bank for Gareth Bale.
This is a potential problem in wider terms than simply losing one’s best player; like Rafa Benitez at Napoli with the Edinson Cavani sale, Villas-Boas is taking the opportunity to draft in a raft of high-quality recruits on the back of a giant windfall. While it represents the fulfilment of the ultimate Christmas list, it does also add the chore of integrating four new principal recruits (with a few more likely to follow), potentially upsetting the balance of an already good side.
The adjustment should not be quite so acute at White Hart Lane as it might be at the Stadio San Paolo. Unlike Benitez, Villas-Boas already has his feet under the table in his post (he is also not implementing a major tactical change in defence, as Benitez is), and will be grateful of the extra bodies with the group having looked light on occasion last season.
What the new boys won’t do is make a huge difference to the existing personality of the team. It would be raking over well-trodden ground to reiterate that Tottenham were much most receptive to an AVB ‘project’ when he arrived than Chelsea were back in 2011; having less dressing room cornerstone seniors, having players more suited to moving the ball from one end of the pitch to the other quickly.
Yet with every signing, it’s becoming clear that even if Villas-Boas has learned from being burned at Stamford Bridge, he has not much deviated from his core beliefs on how he wants his teams to play.
Despite his reputation as a ‘technocrat’ – basically the word that old-fashioned ‘football men’ use to describe those coaches without notable playing careers behind them, but without actually knowing what it means – Villas-Boas’ teams are primal beasts. His teams are more heart than head, running on adrenaline.
This is why, despite his teething troubles in the English game, the Portuguese fits the English game like a glove.
It is also one of the reasons why having more forward thinking midfielders like Paulinho and Etienne Capoue rather than the steady but unspectacular Scott Parker will improve Spurs considerably.
It might be a bit harum-scarum on occasion. Partnering expected new arrival Vlad Chiriches with Jan Vertonghen at centre-back would be risky; the Romanian is a technically adept, footballing centre-half, and perhaps a little similar to the Belgium international. One possibility is Vertonghen moving to left-back with Chiriches partnering the returning Younes Kaboul.
Whatever your opinion on Villas-Boas’ open brand of football, he is putting all his pieces in place – the highlined defence, the central midfielders who bring the ball out into the opposition half, and the wide attackers who can come inside and score goals in the shape of Nacer Chadli and imminent signing Erik Lamela. Now he has everything he wants, the coach must ensure that a Champions League is delivered.
Simon Mignolet has revealed his relief after Liverpool were given a fright by Notts County at Anfield.
Liverpool let a two-goal lead slip at Anfield and their 10 men needed extra-time to see off the League One outfit.
Mignolet admits he feared the worst and is just glad Liverpool are in the hat for tonight’s third round draw of the Capital One Cup.
"We’re just relieved to have won the tie," said the Reds keeper.
"We wanted to get through to the next round and in the end we did that.
"Obviously when you lead 2-0 at half-time, you hope that things are going to go a lot more easily for you than they did. That was disappointing and so were the injuries we suffered.
"We made it difficult for ourselves in the second half. I wouldn’t say it was complacency, but even if you lead 2-0, no matter who the opponent is, the game is not over.
"We have to learn lessons, but we’re into the next round and that’s the most important thing.
"We want to do well in this competition and maybe further down the road we will look back and take the positives from this game.
"We still have a chance to win the cup. At one stage, it didn’t look like that would be the case."
Liverpool’s win came at a high cost and Kolo Toure, Joe Allen and Aly Cissokho were all injured.
Toure is the biggest loss and the African centre-half will miss Sunday’s showdown with Manchester United at Anfield with his groin injury.
Mignolet admits that is a blow for the Reds, although it is softened by Martin Skrtel’s return from injury.
"It would be a big blow to lose Kolo," said the Belgian international.
"We just have to wait and see how bad it is. It’s always disappointing to have injuries, but then again, we have a decent enough squad to deal with that.
"I’m not worried about that. We have players, who can step up and replace Kolo if needed."
Mignolet, together with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Glen Johnson, played 120 energy-sapping minutes, but the former Sunderland star does not feel they will suffer for it on Sunday.
"We’re professionals and we worked really hard in pre-season to get fit for the start of the season so that won’t be an issue," he said.
"Everybody will rest up and we have a number of days before Sunday. There’s enough time to recover.
"It will be a huge experience for me against United and I always look forward to these type of games.
"It’s going to be a big one and we will try to win the game. We will make sure we’re ready for Sunday.
"We have to look at ourselves rather than focus on who we’re playing against."
Tottenham are set to fine Gareth Bale before his world record transfer to Real Madrid is completed.
, who travelled to Spain at the weekend, was again absent from the Spurs training ground yesterday.
Coach Andre Villas Boas revealed Bale has already said his goodbyes to his Spurs team-mates – and admitted for the first time that negotiations are advanced with Real Madrid.
But the Portuguese boss is clearly angry that Bale has gone on effective strike to force through the transfer.
AVB said: "“I gave the player the weekend off, Monday was a day off for the squad. He is involved in a big transfer to Real Madrid and, if it happens, we wish him all the best, but the fact that he hasn’t turned up is not the correct behaviour.
"But in the end it’s a position of pressure and a statement from the player or whatever that means. It’s a position they chose to take.
"Until the transfer happens. he is a Tottenham player. If he is ordered to be here, it is up to club officials to deal with it.
“It’s a position they chose to take. It’s up to the club now to decide if it’s a fineable offence. It is up to the club to decide whether it is a breach of the club rules.
"I have given my opinion on it. It is up to them to deal with it."
Asked if Bale owed the club to leave on good terms, AVB added: "It’s up to Gareth. He has a good relationship with everybody and he has saluted the players the other day, myself included."
For the first time, a Tottenham official has admitted that the Bale transfer to the Spanish capital is close to completion.
AVB continued: "At the moment the two clubs are speaking – Tottenham and Real Madrid – to outline the final decisions or statements of contracts and I am not sure how much time it will take.
"It could happen very, very soon.. it might not happen so soon so I suppose it could go to the last days or it could happen in the next two days.
"You wouldn’t expect the biggest transfer in world football to happen easily. Whenever they get to an agreement, end of story."
For Villas-Boas, it did not have to end this way.
Not after so many good times together.
The enduring image of Bale lastseason was jumping into the open arms of the Tottenham coach after his last-gasp wonder goal at Upton Park.
Buton Thursday, after weeks of frustration, the Portuguese coach finally made public his annoyance at the Welshman going behind his back to forcea world-record transfer to Real Madrid. And his Spurs divorce.
Sowhile the ‘Bale Box’ still awaits its star at the Bernabeu Stadium, AVBtook to the stage at Spurs Lodge to also berate Real Madrid and Chelsea – and even hint at unhappiness over his own club’s transfer dealings.
But it was Bale’s conduct that has clearly angered the coach who helped him wintwo Player of the Year Awards last season to attract the attentions of the Spanish giants.
“We had avery good season,” AVB said. “What’s happening is a dream move for him so I think this could have happened in a different way.
“Butin the end there will be a three-way agreement for the player to go and Tottenham will accept most likely the biggest transfer in world football. If Tottenham accept it and everything goes all right it will be end of the story.”
It isnot quite Luis Figo going to Real Madrid, where Barcelona fans famously held up a sign declaring: ‘We hate you so much because we loved you so much’.
But the admirably honest AVB, who always looks uncomfortable when being evasive, could not hide his disappointment and hurt at Bale’seffective strike action.
So, rather than one of last season’s 26 goals for the club, the danger is that the finalmemory of Bale for Spurs fans will be walking into his agent’s central London office with his baseball cap turned backwards when he should have been at work.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had bottles and a pie thrown at him outside Old Trafford on Monday night, the Manchester Evening News reports.
The Cityboss was at the ground to watch Manchester United’s Premier League clash against Chelsea, hoping to run the rule over the Red Devils ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season in four weeks’ time.
But as he got out of his car outside the ground, he was spotted by some United fans and was booed as missiles rained down on him.
Objects thrown in his direction are thought to include plastic bottles and a pie. Security staff quickly stepped in and escorted him into the stadium.
declined to comment but the Chilean is said to have laughed the incident off and says he doesn’t want to take any further action.
He is said to be happy with the way the Old Trafford stewards dealt with the situation.
“He was escorted by CES Security staff and had no issues,” Charlie Coxon, safety officer at Manchester United, told the MEN.
Premier League new boys Crystal Palace have failed in an attempt to sign Joey Barton from QPR, according to the midfielder himself.
The Eagles have spruced up their frontline this summer with the signings of Jason Puncheon, Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle, but manager Ian Holloway is believed to be keen on strengthening his midfield.
But Barton revealed on Twitter that he has turned down the opportunity to return to the Premier League.
"They tried but it’s not the right move for me and my family right now. Hope they stay up as I like Holloway," he wrote on Twitter.
3 dots are that they tried but its not the right move for me and my family right now. Hope they stay up as I like Holloway.
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton)
The 30-year-old went out on loan to Marseille last season and was expected to depart Loftus Road during the transfer window.
But Barton has begun to win over fans in west London and now looks likely to stay put as Rangers look to make an impression in the Championship.