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By London24’s Spurs blogger Daniel Grigg
Monday, July 16, 2012
So Andre Villas-Boas finally has his feet properly under the table – and his first press conference last week coincided with the announcement over his new assistant...
That man is the former crowd favourite Steffen Freund who, despite not scoring a single goal in over 100 matches for Spurs, left his mark on the club - and a few opponents - during his time at White Hart Lane.
Freund was kind of the Scott Parker of his era - although Parker was probably better on the ball – and more recently he has managed the German Under-16 team.
Meanwhile, Villas-Boas faced the media and explained in his gravelly voice which direction he wants to take the club in.
Most notable was his intention to focus on - or at least not to completely ignore - all four of the competitions that Tottenham will be involved in next season, including the Europa League.
That is something Spurs certainly didn’t do last season, after failing to even make it through a pretty winnable group – although it has to be said that not too many people minded, including myself, given the brilliant league run at that time.
It was a similar story in 2008-09 – Redknapp’s first season in charge – when he put out a second strong side for both legs of a knockout match against the eventual winners Shakhtar Donetsk.
It is probably not a great surprise that Villas-Boas wants to treat the competition with greater respect, given that he won it with considerable ease and style with Porto in 2011.
But it is a risk, particularly given the strong correlation between Spurs’ lack of interest in Europe – or their absence from it - and their success in the league in those very same seasons.
Tottenham have either been absent from Europe or failed to reach the knock-outs in three of the last seven seasons - 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2011-12 – and in every case we went into the final day of the league campaign in the top four places.
It remains to be seen whether Villas-Boas’ plans to attack the Europa League will damage Spurs’ chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
However, there is little doubt that his reputation on the continent is an asset when it comes to attracting the top players.
This is a man who has helped Falcao, Hulk and Joao Moutinho to achieve the greatest success of their careers – and Villas-Boas has clearly been keen to recruit Moutinho for his new mission at Tottenham.
That is now looking less and less likely now since Porto have slapped a £30million fee on the Euro 2012 star - a full £10m more than he was valued at last summer, when Chelsea were interested.
That is a prime example of one of the problems of selling Luka Modric, for whatever price – it will be well-known that Spurs have plenty of cash on them, and any clubs they approach about a replacement will be keen to take advantage.
Admittedly, we did the same with Chelsea last season, looking to see just how high they would actually go with their valuations of the Croatian midfielder before turning them down.
This issue has been skilfully avoided in the case of Rafael van der Vaart though, since we have already filled the vacancy before his departure and paid a relatively low amount for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The goalkeeping position certainly needs to be addressed, and there has been considerable interest in France No1 Hugo Lloris, who would be the perfect pre-emptive replacement for 41-year-old Brad Friedel, who is already in the final year of his Spurs contract.
Lloris is certainly preferable to Julio Cesar, who has also been linked with a move to the Lane – mainly preferable because of the old issue of wages.
Cesar is thought to be earning well over £100,000 a week at Inter Milan, while Lloris is reportedly on less than £50,000 a week at Lyon.
Add the seven-year age difference in 25-year-old Lloris’ favour, and that he has the potential to progress just as much as a Manuel Neuer or a Joe Hart – who are both similar ages - and it’s clear to me which one we should be trying to get.