- Premier League
Villas-Boas answers Redknapp criticism
Andre Villas-Boas has surprisingly admitted that he has never spoken a word to Harry Redknapp and has no relationship with him, but did hit back at the QPR manager's claim that "you'd have to be a real dope to mess it up" at Chelsea.
The shadow of old bosses and former clubs hangs over Saturday's fixture at Loftus Road as Redknapp takes on his old Tottenham team for the first time since departing last summer. And in their last league game, his QPR side actually beat Villas-Boas's own former club, Chelsea.
Although the Portuguese attempted to deal with the issue in a matter-of-fact manner, he did indirectly criticise Redknapp as he claimed no-one could comment on the difficulty of managing a side like Chelsea without experiencing it themselves.
"Only if you manage a club you are going to find out," Villas-Boas said. "You have to be able to access a club like that to experience. It's a different type of club. You just have to experience it and to survive it."
Villas-Boas, meanwhile, stated that he had never had any contact with his predecessor other than a handshake before the Spurs-Chelsea match last season.
"No, I've never spoken to him," he said. "We shook hands in the beginning of Tottenham-Chelsea but, no, never spoken to him."
For his part, Villas-Boas did explain how he overcame any initial negative reaction to his appointment at Spurs after Redknapp's sacking, as well as a few bumpy periods since then, to put his team in such a strong position at present. He highlighted stability and patience, two things he did not enjoy at Chelsea.
"We spoke about that [negative reaction] at the beginning," Villas-Boas said. "The first three games we didn't start well. We did extremely well against Newcastle and West Brom but had a very poor performance against Norwich so at that stage we understood that we had to improve our performances and that's what makes us sit third at the moment. I think it was good for us to have that difficult time and we managed to overcome it and get stability in our results.
"The belief of the players was always there. To be fair, we drew those two games [against Norwich and West Brom] in the last minute and we had an excellent performance against Newcastle [in a 2-1 defeat]. So the team was willing to jump out of that situation. When the players have belief in what you do it makes it easier.
"The one good thing for us was to get the most amount of matches as possible. In those first few weeks of the season, we had the international break and games split on a weekly basis. Afterwards, when the games started arriving, the players started improving. That helped us get to know each other a little better and our football started improving. As a consequence, the results started improving.
"Where we sit now is due to the fact that we've played all these games and they know each other better. In football, consistency is very important and we never managed to find that [at Chelsea]. It helps your decision-making and the confidence of the players and your club decisions, but this never happened in my time there. It was always up and down so we never got to the stage where we could move forward with confidence towards our objectives."
Importantly, Villas-Boas claims he has also been allowed to get to know the squad better than at Chelsea, due to the contrasting levels of recent success.
"It's a different group and a different club, different expectations," he said. "Chelsea is a high-profile club where media attention is high and everything is scrutinised and it's a different type of environment.
"This is a high-profile club but with different circumstances with different objectives and not so much media attention. Group dynamics are also very important. Chelsea, through the years, have had eight of nine managers. This club [Spurs] has found a little bit more stability in management recently.
"The group has changed but the objectives are not up there at the moment. This is where we want to be in the future. In a player there is always a willingness to learn and to be better and I think the step forward as you see from this football club is to move into the position where Chelsea are at the moment, where they compete and they win trophies.
"When that happens, the level of expectations happen, the pressure happens and you need to be able to cope with it. This is where we want to be in the future.
"It's not easily comparable, one situation to another because this football club still wants to be in the same position where Chelsea has been in the last 10 years, winning three Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the European Cup.
"When that happens, the situations are a bit more comparable in terms of expectation, player demands and the way you manage the players too."