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Learning to love anti-AVB bias

Learning to love anti-AVB bias

Did any watch that ancient dinosaur of a football programme on BBC the other week? You know, the one where overpaid ex-professional footballers are given heavily edited highlights of all the matches that have been played that day and use them to reaffirm their preconceptions and prejudices about players, teams, clubs and managers, all delivered with a liberal dose of cliché and catchphrases.

Because I am unable to get to White Hard Lane to watch games, it wasn`t until live internet streaming enabled me to watch just about every game in full that I realised just how poor some of the punditry and commentary in the media is.

Again and again, they repeat the same old mantras about the same players: Alan Hansen suggesting that Benoit Assou-Ekotto is a liability in defence when he has been one of the most consistently excellent players for Tottenham for at least three season (albeit with the occasional lapse); everyone suggesting that Harry Redknapp is some sort of genius wheeler-dealer in the transfer market, when, of all his achievements at Tottenham, transfers were one of the areas that let him down; and then there is Jermain Defoe who everybody, apart from people who actually watch Spurs every week, seems to suggest is one of the most deadly poachers/finishers in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe is a good finisher and has an excellent attitude. His application and effort - not to mention his goals - are a credit to him and of great value to the team but he is not, and never will be, a deadly finisher. He scores lots of goals but he misses a lot too. He is good but not great. And when the ball is laid on plate for him by one of our excellent midfielders the ball is not "only going to finish in one place". It is just as likely to be scuffed, miss the target or hit straight at the goalkeeper as it is to end up in the back of the net.

And of course there is AVB, media darling extraordinaire, who can simply do no wrong. OK, so he`s let them down by not falling flat on his face at Tottenham; he masterminded a stunning victory away at Old Trafford; he`s brought the best out of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Sandro; he has successfully converted Defoe into a lone striker (which no other manager has managed to do); he has skilfully managed a depleted squad, having lost three of our best ever players in the summer and several more through injury, without ever once complaining; he`s integrated youth players into the team and kept all the senior players onside; he`s taken the Europa and Capital One cups seriously, qualifying for the knockout stages of the former while maintaining strong challenge for a Champions League place. When problems have emerged - such as that of conceding late goals - instead of mouthing clichés and deflecting blame he has analysed the data and taken steps to rectify the problem. Most disappointingly, he has not been arrogant, naïve or intransigent tactically as so many had hoped, confidently switching formations to suit the occasion and the players available.

He has also established his authority as manager at the same time as integrating himself as part of a team. Indeed, it is noticeable and refreshing how often he refers to "we" rather than "they" or "I".

Although it would be foolish to believe that he would not have his head turned should his success continue and one of Europe`s giants come calling, there is a feeling that he has bought into the Spurs philosophy and Daniel Levy`s vision for the future. He appears grateful for the chance to prove himself and seems eager to move forward with the club as part of a long-term project.

So what did Dion Dublin reply on Match of the Day when Gary Lineker tried to coax a little praise out of him for what AVB has achieved so far at Spurs?

"With the squad of players he`s got, he should be where he is."

No doubt that is exactly what would have been said about his predecessor in the same position.

Last weekend, I happened to flick over to Gillette Soccer Saturday before the QPR game on Sky Sports when Jeff Stelling asked Charlie Nicholas, "As far as Villas-Boas is concerned, what's Villas Boas changed there since Harry? Has he changed much?"

"No,no, no. Because he inherited a good batch - a very good batch, actually. So he didn't really need to change much, Jeff. But I think slowly he has just adapted his personality ... You know, 'cos I think Harry would be more in line with... Go on, entertain me, Gareth Bale, Defoe - who didn't always play under Harry - but, you know, go and entertain me, this is the way I like to see games... Whereas there`s maybe a bit more structure been put into the team through Villas Boas. But when you inherit such a good batch of players like he did, why would you even think about changing when you can tweak it here and there. You know and he's done that but I think Tottenham are going along as well as what they were last season. Nothing's changed dramatically, so err.... And it's still a decent squad."

Spot on, Charlie. The squad has hardly changed from last season, has it? I mean, apart from Van Der Vaart, Modric, Parker, Kaboul, King, Friedel, Assou-Ekotto, and a fit and available Adebayor, the first team team and results are basically the same as they were for the second-half of last season, aren`t they? OK, so the majority of the starting eleven and the systems have changed, but I can`t think of anything else.

And even though Good Old Harry (never Redknapp, of course) was an absolute for guiding Spurs to fourth in the Premier League, any replacement who couldn`t at least match that after losing four or five of last season`s most influential players would be a complete dope, wouldn`t he?

But, do you know what? For all that, instead of being annoyed, I`m actually starting to enjoy the anti-AVB bias, and almost hoping that it continues. Not only is it revealing, and increasingly amusing, I also think it may actually start to help Spurs. The players seem to like and respect AVB, and most of the Spurs fans seem to appreciate what a good job he has done so far under a huge amount of pressure. So, if the critics what to keep throwing bottles from their privileged seats, it may actually help the manager, players and fans to form a tighter bond. A siege mentality has never harmed certain other clubs, after all.


Maybe Vital Spurs should run a competition to find the most biased anti-AVB punditry of the season. Post accurate quotations or links below.

Written by One Cent Rob

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:One Cent Rob
Date:Tuesday January 15 2013
Time: 7:00PM


I love lamp
15/01/2013 19:16:00
There seems to be a growing unity in the club with the players and staff now getting used to each other. So pleased its all working out as AVB was always my first choice.
Zummerzet Spur
15/01/2013 19:16:00
Forget how the media portray spurs and AVB, it will never change until he becomes consistantly good. Now were is that effing bleeding extra striker we need?
spurfect one
15/01/2013 19:21:00
Great article Rob. It just goes to show these 'experts' for what they truly are.....anything but! This piece needs to be sent to the TV producers highlighting their failures
15/01/2013 19:28:00
I really like AVB and hope he gets the time at Spurs to show his ability. I think he has shown great attitude and seems willing to learn. But actually the pundit was right; we are exactly where we should be given the squad he inherited despite the changes and injuries. His substitutions sometimes baffle me and leaving out Dempsey on Saturday was a mistake imo. He took time to settle the team and those early dropped points could well cost us 4th. So 7 out of 10 but shows promise.
Love totty
15/01/2013 19:32:00
10/10 for me!!!
15/01/2013 19:42:00
Hansen and Lawrenson were two of the best defenders I have ever seen play together, but they are as bad as pundits as they were good as players. Agree that they just comment on pre selected highlights and that does not give a true picture of 90 mins let alone 4 or 5 games.
15/01/2013 19:45:00
I love AVB, have since his Porto days. Interestingly, I hate MOTD. I hate it so much I wrote a letter of compliant to the BBC regarding the quality of its pundits, etc.
Tactically Challenge
15/01/2013 19:47:00
Did any watch that ancient dinosaur of a football programme on BBC the other week? That was part one, I watched part 2 live on sunday @ 4pm ''The Old Fossil'' sitting next to steve bould
spu 4 life
15/01/2013 19:53:00
Excellent article but I do hope that Levy buys into AVBs vision rather than the other way round. Europa League and sell your best players for multi million pound profit is the extent of Levys vision.
15/01/2013 19:54:00
Probably the best article I have ever read on here. Sorry Ox
15/01/2013 20:08:00
nice article,but do we really expect certain pundits to come out and say 'well,we we're wrong about him'.....?i remember when andy gray used to comment on sky sports,JEEZ LOUISE!he was so anit-spurs it was unbelievable,until we scored then it was 'take a bow son',then the bias would resume.
g. roberts testes
15/01/2013 20:10:00
i am happy with AVB I think he is doing a good job what *****es me off is every day there is still stories relating to him and chelsea blah blah blah that chapter is over let the man get on with his new project ,we need a striker other positions can wait till the summer but we neeed a top goal scorer
15/01/2013 20:12:00
Paranoid...I didn't think AVB was a smart appointment BUT it looks as though the gamble may pay off. The players seem to want to play for him and that's vital. He still makes mistakes and time will tell if he's a success. The press/pundits can only write/comment on the story if AVB makes an inspired sub or kicks a water bottle they'll comment, if he keeps us at fourth they'll see that as par/good if we finish 7th they'll pan him...don't expect them to live every decision and know all the in's and out's at our club, it's not their job.
15/01/2013 20:12:00
15/01/2013 20:23:00
The Harry V AVB argument will be known by the second half of the season .Spurs flopped in the second half of the season 2 seasons in a row .
Proof is in the pudding & if AVB can maintain this level up until may then he`ll proven to be better .
Harry did well to get us 4th but we were up against a Mark Hughes City & a self destruct Liverpool ,still a fine achievement but like when Everton got it ,it was there for the taking .

Can Spurs do a 3rd successive second half season collapse ? over to you AVB to manage the team ,but also Mr Levy to bring in at least 2 attacking signings .It`s a results business & results & fickle go hand in hand
big cockeral
15/01/2013 20:25:00
He is still very young for a manager and some of his decisions show this , but i think one day he will be a top manager.
15/01/2013 20:28:00
This is very well observed. LMAO. Well said Rob.
15/01/2013 20:35:00
Agree about Durham, he is so anti AVB that I think he must secretly love him.
15/01/2013 20:46:00
Even though I was all for letting "he who's name shan't be mentioned" leave in the summer, I wasn't convinced that AVB was the right move. Six months in - he's done a better job than I expected. It's been a joy to watch the Chavski Mail silenced on the matter. Even Barry Glendenning isn't beeing as spitefull as he used to in the football weekly in the guardian. We rode our luck in a couple of games (QPR at home was crucial), but we've also played som fantastic football - not the free flowing one perhaps, but patient, intelligent and lethal counterattacking football. I think much of this is down to AVBs philosphy. He didn't panic when the heat was on in his early days. I really like the way he egded Lloris into the team. He looks more mature and much happier than he did at the bridge. His celebrations gives me the feeling that he cares - a lot more than the previous man in charge. It's emotional - but it actually means something to me as a supporter. It's still early days, but I'm leaning (more and more so) towards AVB as the right man for the job. After four years on a rollercoaster it feels nice flying under the radar. I'm a journo myself, and here in Norway it works the same way. Broad-mouthed managers with snappy sound-bites in every other sentence gets hailed by the pundits. The clever ones get on with their work and let the results talk for themselves. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a good example. Top (top) manager, never the one to state his opinion on matters that aren't relevant to his job. AVB: 7 out of 10 - for now.
15/01/2013 20:52:00
Nothing annoys me more in sport than football fans, football pundits and their shabby opinions. Not all pundits are bad, but footballers don't seem to be too smart. Just because they could play football, does not mean they are experts on the game. I tend to agree more with pundits that are not ex footballers. AVB clearly knows what he is doing. Who knows how we would be doing under Harry right now. He is a good manager. Much better than he was 10 years ago. BUT, in two or three years we will be in a much better position under AVB than we would have been under Harry. I am sure of that.
15/01/2013 21:05:00
Not anyone seen the tweet from Agro Santos about Sandro? Apparently he's had a knee op,hope its not too bad.
15/01/2013 21:10:00
15/01/2013 21:11:00
Good read one cent bob,avb and spurs were and will be a match made in heaven! If dan is as good as spurs fan as i hope a few tweaks here and there and a few bob spent this team can go far!the club with the new training ground and big pitch on the way?young good and some very good young players from 20 down to 15.we got top 4 last season and we never got CL so top 3 it as to be from now on in.
Little spur
15/01/2013 21:18:00
I noticed something about myself this season. I rarely come on here discussing tactics and what AVB should be doing or should have done. Last season i was forever on here frustrated with Harry. I certainly trust AVB knows what he is doing and even if he puts out a team i might not have chosen, i don't complain because i am absolutely certain he knows more than i bloody do!
15/01/2013 21:22:00
We got AVB by pure luck so it just might be our time!like in all walks of life winners still need that little bit of luck!2013--2014 tottenham hotspur PL champions !
Little spur
15/01/2013 21:28:00
Dreams do come true?
Little spur
15/01/2013 21:29:00
Fantastic article. Adrian Durham is an absolute clown of epic proportions. I have to turn talksport off everyday at 4 whenever I hear his voice, you know it's bad when even his Arsenal bashing irritates the pants off me. Shame because H&j are quality and even Keys & Gray are surprisingly decent. MOTD is so far behind Sky it's untrue though. Gary Neville knows football. Souness generally talks sense. Ok Redknapp is a yes man but at least he's intelligent. As for the bbcs long list of morons only Pat Nevin is any good, yet Robbie Savage, Shearer & Dublin are preferred. It's 20 years behind.
15/01/2013 21:30:00
I was not convinced by the AVB appointment, but so far I have to admit he has done a good job. It would be nice to have seen some backing from Levy during this window, but it appears it will not be forthcoming, so we will see where we are come May with what we have, whether we can sustain our results and finish in a CL place. So lets suspend the beautification, until we have completed the season, and analysed our final league position.
15/01/2013 22:01:00
Currently across all the football channels the best pundit, tactics analyst, and commentator is Gary Neville by a country mile.
15/01/2013 22:05:00
An enjoyable read Rob. Thanks.

I get quite wound up watching/listening to the pundits, I generally like watching highlights on any channel, but the pundits using hindsight and camera angles and joined up dots on the screen, showing unmarked areas, the glaring holes in the defence etc just do my head in. Try sitting in a dug out and then point to all those issues. I accept that WE often comment here on what we see on TV or stream. But seems that punditry is all about slide rules and crayons used on a numerous slow motion replays so that their analyses look so masterful!!. Wonder why none of them took up football management, seeing they ALL know PRECISELY the wrongs and rights!

In my opinion, AVB is handling the media and pundits absolutely perfectly, i.e., ignore them and remain focused. Well done!
15/01/2013 22:19:00
Good article. I was quietly confident in his appointment and I've been laughing my head off at the anti AVB crowd ever since we did Utd. However, it is too early for the pundits to start eating their words just yet. We're only half way there but it seems clear to me the only reason he didn't do well at chelsea was because the players are just such horrible souls there. Utd, city and Arsenal all have to come to the lane in the second half of the season. Let's hope that works in our favour. COYS!
15/01/2013 22:20:00
If AVB has the good sense I suspect he has, he won't give much thought to what the idiots who pontificate on the BBC or elsewhere have to say about him. Winning wins fools over and there's his solution to the problem. Just win enough and they'll all start saying how they predicted his greatness.
Total knobhead
15/01/2013 22:28:00
Great article Rob, many thanks. I agree the level of punditry is atrocious - from Nicholas to Shearer they are truly terrible. Shearer gets worse every time I see him. I actually think Jason Roberts is the best on BBC - I actually can't think of anyone else. I have to say I was always fully behind AVB and apart from a couple of lapses late on in games I haven't really had anything to moan about. I really hope Levy backs his man in the next few weeks.
15/01/2013 22:57:00
Typo in penultimate paragraph: should read, '...was an absolute GENIUS...' Thanks for the kind comments.
15/01/2013 23:07:00
Ah I might as well join in the chorus of praise for this well written article ;-) Good job OneCentRob and yes, those commentators can be very irritating. For me, I can easily ignore all that as long as we are doing well. Like someone said earlier, it is crunch time now with the second half of season upon us. We went into freefall the last 2 season at this stage. I think AVB will steer us in the right direction this time though. Still need Levy/AVB to get at least 1, preferably 2 attacking players to compliment the good squad we have already. Please, pretty please.
15/01/2013 23:22:00
I'm with you 100% Rob. I actually love hearing them spout their drivel about AVB. The more the results stack up the more they show themselves to be clueless. Sam Matterface is another one. Had a grudge with AVB from the off just because he wasn't "media friendly" what a tool. The way they mock his use of the English language winds me up, the guys foreign FFS he can't be expected to speak the queens English! He speaks Portuguese, English, French & German how many languages can those thick tw*ts speak?
Spurs Allday
Off topic but with our old gaffer about to sign two players we were after I have to say the prices he's getting them for(transfer fees) are very good but the fees we were apparently quoted in the past were way too much. So while I'd say fair play to them, good signings I'm not sad that we didn't stump up the combined 35mil that we were quoted for two guys who are now going for a combined 15mil.
Spurs Allday
16/01/2013 00:09:00
Spanish, too, no?
Total knobhead
16/01/2013 00:10:00
Yes TK A.K.A SIB lol he can speak Spanish. Knew I'd missed one & it happened to be the most obvious
Spurs Allday
16/01/2013 00:16:00
Hey TK have you heard any of this interview with the chairman of Internacional stating that he fears he'll lose Damiao in this window? Goes on to say that he's had bids in previous windows very late on, so he feels a deal could be still done. Would love him & Willian. May be a distant dream but we'd be amazing with those two. Willian's been spoken to that's for sure, refusing to join up at the training camp etc. I get the feeling he knows only too well any chance he's got of making the Brazil squad for 2014 he needs PL exposure now! With only 18 months to go until the WC he needs to make the most of that time.
Spurs Allday
16/01/2013 00:28:00
Frank DeBoer has also said that he expects to lose Eriksen, Aldeweirald & de Jong in the summer. I can see us signing Alderweirald at the very least with Gallas out of contract & Dawson still not secure. Eriksen too possibly as a cheaper alternative to Moutinho.
Spurs Allday
16/01/2013 00:32:00
Frank,agree on gary neville that guy knows his stuff!
Little spur
16/01/2013 01:38:00
As an ex-pat living overseas, I am thankful I don't have to listen too or are exposed as much to the 'pundits' that you speak of. With the amount of data available (opta), the TV coverage around the world, the huge following, the BPL no longer belongs to England. Yes the games are played there, but the game / or more importantly the competiton is such a massive event, it is simply now a global event. The multitude of blogs, social media and sites like this (massive respect to OX who runs it so very well) are gaining momentum and although the 'puppets' on TV may annoy many, their 'opinions' are meaningless drivel that should continue to be ignored.
16/01/2013 06:02:00
great article but if I was to pick, I think that last season we would of been stronger if we had Lloris in goal, look at the defence this season constant rotate and shaky with the Brad white line sticker Freidel in goal however as soon as Lloris rightly got the nod and number one spot we seem to be more stable in defence with a good keeper they have a lot of confidence in Lloris hence more clean sheets etc.
16/01/2013 06:55:00
good article. for me the question is where would harry be if he were in charge this season. IMO very far from top 4, having lost king, VDV, modric and without parker, kaboul, BAE and for the most part adebayor we would be mid table and the excuses would be flowing fast - can't expect to be as good without those stars, defoe can't play the lone role, we really need reinforcements now to stay top 10, I've told the chairman that we really need four or five world class players this january so lets see what he can do...I also can't believe how many people insist that any current success is down to harry for having assembled this team. the only real harry buys who have regularly featured this season are gallas, due to the kaboul injury and defoe. Even if you also count sandro, who harry new nothing about as he admitted, and walker who when he was brought in with naughton resulted in harry having a rant about it's all well and good bringing in players for the future but we need players for now, I probably won't be here in the future... even then this is hardly harry's team. drives me nuts
16/01/2013 08:49:00
to be fair to Redknapp, he did bring back Kaboul, not sure how much of it was we took him back due to Portsmouth owing us more or more him wanting him ,
16/01/2013 08:57:00
I agree with what you said about Defoe, could never rap my head around why everyone thinks the guy is lethal, the midfield hes got behind him he should be scoring around 20-25 a season. As you said most of the pundits dont actually watch the games only the highlights, but they have to have someone to comment on the games, cant line up 10 or 20 journos in the studio giving there opinions of each game. I would like to see a few more pro spurs pundits.
16/01/2013 09:57:00
defoe scores one goal per nine shots, thats well below average for a top striker. hernandez has scored one in 3.75 this season, that is good finishing. defoe as a finisher is behind both lennon and bale statistically.
16/01/2013 11:09:00
I literally agree with every word of this. nice one.
16/01/2013 11:26:00
Talk****e are the worst at it, Goldstein/Durham et al. Makes me laugh. Err, Manager of the Month.
16/01/2013 11:56:00
Great article btw.
16/01/2013 11:57:00
haha, I think you got more than your One Cent's worth in there Rob, well done mate.... but you did miss off: The Sun. I bought that comic from 17-32yrs of age to read the sport and listen to what the interesting girl on the third page had to say about world politics. That was until the unsubstantiated headline "Spurs in Turmoil" which was not only inaccurate and proceeded our first victory at Old Trafford for decades but had a follow up article of 3 tiny paragraphs, headline grabbing w@nk3rs!

Adding to your MOTD rant I hate the way the BBC think football is only about shots. The highlights never give a true reflection of the game, i.e. midfield tussles, teams defending resolutely, Sandro rolling around on the floor still keeping the ball (Villa) etc. Best example was 4-4 at the Emirates, at 4-2 the scum show boated and olay'd for 15 minutes and then f7cked it up royally when Lennon equalised....would have been great to see their premature celebrations turning into tears.
16/01/2013 12:10:00
The sad reality of British pundits is that they despreately try to stay "friends" with all and sundry involved with the game, prehaps this is understandable give that they exist cheek by jowel and maybe joined on the couch the following week by that same player or manager! For genuine commentry and analysis you can't beat RTE and the John Giles / Eamon Dunphy combo! Prehaps a bit too much analysisat times but two boys who'll call it as they see it and generally far more astute then the talking heads of Soccer Saturday or MOTD! RTE's football commentry though is awful!
Slurms McKenzie
16/01/2013 13:14:00
I really enjoyed the article Rob, so thanks for that. Those who live in the UK should be thankful that they don't have the pundits we have over here in the US. We get guys like Warren Barton, Eric Wynalda, Steve McManaman and Alexei Lalas, who make Hansen and Lawro sound like the footballing equivalents of Aristotle or Plato. The one good thing though is that they don't usually have an axe to grind against anybody, but are usually shamelessly pro SKY 4. We also don't have to listen to any of those truly awful phone ins. Where I live, they are usually reserved for slagging off the Browns.
Cleveland ARTSPURS
16/01/2013 14:44:00
One of the reasons I was a bit nervous about the appointment of AVB was the obvious kicking that he would take from media, particularly early on due to his Chelski past + the media love in with HR. He's coped with it really well though, and as others have said it's results that deflect the criticism. If he keeps it going for the second half of the season, then the HR "monkey" will definitely be off his back.
Cleveland ARTSPURS
16/01/2013 14:48:00
Does anyone remember the start of last season when Harry didn't have ade, Parker and modric? If he was still here we would be struggling massively given the losses suffered through the summer and injury. Nice article
16/01/2013 15:44:00
Very Good Article.............
16/01/2013 16:44:00
Good read Rob, to be fair, the BBC do have some good commentators but awful pundits, they either talk crap or just spout the bleeding obvious. And Garth Crooks (one of the most useless) has his team of the week. You cant do that unless you have seen all games live.
matt hoten
16/01/2013 23:02:00
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