Football Psychology: Andre Villas Boas – The Code For Tottenham Hotspur…

For the second time Andre Villas Boas has been fired from a high profile Premier League job. A shocking home drubbing to a rampant Liverpool proved the final straw for Daniel Levy.

With unseemly televised personal spats with the media, and his grumblings about the home support, Villas Boas was looking increasingly uncomfortable at the helm at White Hart Lane. But after his failure at Chelsea, his appointment was surely a high risk strategy.

Levy assumed that the Portugese must have learnt from his challenging time at Stamford Bridge. But it’s a big assumption. And an incorrect one it appears.

When Bill Nicholson took Spurs to a League and Cup double in the early sixties, he established a code for Tottenham Hotspur. A code based on the notion of football as a conduit for ‘glory’. Nicholson’s philosophy engraved itself into the DNA of the football club. It became the Tottenham way.

In other words, football served as a means for ordinary people to experience levels of emotional euphoria that wasn’t possible in everyday life. The purpose of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was to serve the people. To give them something special to look forward to every week, that gave their life meaning.

It’s an ethos that Harry Redknapp had a strong feel for. He understood that Spurs were a team that had to entertain, get people off their seats with attacking purposeful football. Ideally played off the cuff, with talented players who weren’t frightened to express themselves.

When Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid, he was replaced with half a team of foreign imports. How many of them were given an induction into the real meaning of being a Tottenham Hotspur player?

Andre Villas Boas tried to impose his managerial code onto Tottenham. It’s a code that appears high on analysis and control. But it appears to inhibit the free-flowing football that is the Tottenham way.

In firing him, did Daniel Levy recognise the contradiction between Andre Villas Boas’s way and the DNA of Tottenham Hotspur? If so, that mis-alignment should have been established in the interview process. Put simply, the Portugese was not a Tottenham manager. The same as Juande Ramos, Jacques Santini and Christian Gross weren’t either.

Before he rushes into a new apointment, Levy needs to take a step back and consider what is the requirement of a Tottenham manager. And the first conclusion he must come to, is that the next manager must have a strong emotional feel, understanding and connection to the proud history of the football club. Not just the facts. But the connection between the club, the players and the people.

Bill Nicholson may he created the code for Tottenham Hotspur fifty years ago. But he established principles that should be the alignment and measurement for all leaders of the club.

Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.