Crunch match at the beginning of a crunch period for Villas-Boas
Not fully explained
Given the finish, that Tottenham disposed of Redknapp still strikes many as not fully explained.
What we don’t see, however, are the human relationships within a club, of the sort between AVB and the Chelsea core of players. Redknapp may have had a difficult time with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, that was long a rumour.
But Levy may also have focused on Tottenham’s results after Christmas in the last two seasons and been underwhelmed. At this stage last season Spurs were seven points better off than they are now, but won only six of their last 18 league games. That – six wins from the last 18 – was the same record the season before.
AVB preventing Spurs from withering again in spring would presumably be viewed with pleasure and a measure of vindication in the boardroom, but as Tottenham showed at home to Wigan in November, there are no guarantees.
So today’s is a crunch match at the beginning of a crunch period for Villas-Boas. It is the first time he will have encountered Redknapp since taking his job at White Hart Lane. That’s the human factor.
When it comes to games, there are 17 left in the league and Spurs must win more than six of them for AVB’s new hierarchy to be approaching ease about his appointment. Winning eight might mean a Champions League place next season, and winning two more than Redknapp would be the type of incremental improvement on which Villas-Boas seems keen.
Touch Wood Leicester pinning their hopes on free-scoring striker
Around this time last January Jason Roberts arrived at Reading on loan from Blackburn. On the surface it seemed a common sense move for a 34-year-old increasingly overlooked Premier League
striker to drop down to the Championship. It turned into something a bit more than that.
Roberts became an inspiration to Reading, who were eighth at the time. In his first Reading game, Roberts scored the winner. In his second he scored again. In his fourth he again scored the winner. And so on. Roberts appeared in 17games for Reading and they won15. By May they were champions and promoted to the Premier League.
Chris Wood was 21 only last month, so has a long way to go to equal Roberts’ experience. But as soon as Leicester City agreed to pay West Brom about £2 million for Wood, it triggered a Roberts comparison. Wood has spent the first half of this season on loan at Millwall and the New Zealander is a significant part of why Millwall are so high up the table. He scored 11 in 19 appearances.
At Leicester he has already played twice and scored three. As a club, Leicester have lurched through nine different managerial appointments since relegation from the Premier League in 2004,and even spent one season in League One. But Leicester sit fifth in the Championship and now have a proven goalscorer in Wood. We shall see if heis this season’s Jason Roberts.
Leeds United are another Championship club to have made an eye-catching signing. Yesterday they took Everton’s Ross Barkley on loan for a month. Barkley was 19 in December but has a talent beyond those years. One month is not long enough for his signing to be transformational, but it is unquestionably a boost for a team two points outside the play-offs.