André, ’Arry and the media


The day after André Villas-Boas was announced as Tottenham’s new head coach, a Spurs fan called @yidingtons tweeted the following:

“OMG! Did you see AVB’s article in the sun, interview out of a car window & Betfair Ad this morning!?!?!? No. Me neither. #sexyvillasboas ”

Of course, one of the most notable differences between the Portuguese master and our friend ’Arry (aside from his boyish good looks, youth and superb tactical know-how) is his attitude to the media. ’Arry loves ’em, André hates ’em.

Before I go any further I should ‘fess up summat: I’m a journalist. Not a sports one, but a professional, paid journalist nevertheless. I’ll defend the press all day and you can call me scum all you like.

Thing is, when reporters bang on about Modders, and AVB’s failings at Chelsea, they’re not being ‘scum’, they’re doing their jobs. They’re not writing just for Spurs fans but for football fans on a whole. These are angles and they’re what sell papers and make stories great.

AVB, to his eternal credit, handled these questions pretty damn carefully, and his first meeting with the press went well. Really well. He didn’t dwell on his failings at Chelsea too much (although he did hint at a burning desire to prove them wrong), referred to Spurs as ‘we’ and dealt with the Modric situation with aplomb.

And, of course, there wasn’t the self-aggrandising you’d get from ’Arry. Sure, AVB is here to prove a point, but he says he wants a title tilt. Not for him. For us. If that’s not ambition, I don’t know what is. No wonder the doubters are warming to him already. ’Arry was elated with fourth, AVB wants the League.

We all know rent-a-quote Redknapp was a journalists’ dream: you’d always come away with the story and couple of a great lines. But the thing is, AVB can be just as likely to give a good quote. Unlike ‘Arry, though, he doesn’t always intend it.

While we were all sick of Redknapp’s rambling (and that’s me included), we shouldn’t just celebrate AVB’s rocky relationship with the press straight up. If he wants to succeed at Spurs, he has to be thicker skinned. Reporters will ask difficult questions: it’s part and parcel of being a football manager.

Biting back and preoccupying himself with answering criticism proved an ultimately costly distraction at Chelsea. Who gives a fuck if Gary Neville doesn’t like David Luiz? By the time the Brazilian was proving doubters wrong on the pitch, his manager had already snapped.

Now, while quarters of the press are fighting ’Arry’s corner, they’ll soon forget him if AVB comes out on a charm offensive. The language has changed from ‘gamble’ to ‘revolution’ already. It’s easier to be positive if you’re winning, of course. But if things start to go wrong, AVB has to stick to his guns, smile, and say it’s a long-term project. Rome wasn’t (re)built in a day.

The moment he starts snapping and snarling, we’re in trouble. Let’s hope he’s learned from his experience at Chelsea and he can bring years of success at Spurs (and Fergie-level adulation in the media). The press may be a feral beast, but AVB’s not going to tame it on his own.

I welcome not seeing his (admittedly sexy) face everywhere, in every paper and on every advert. But clever people don’t go looking for enemies. If he wins games, he’ll win fans. And that’s in the stands and in the papers.


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  1. The problem's not journalists putting a slant on a story. It's when they state things as fact when they are clearly not fact.

  2. I feel better now that I know that as long as your writing about "Angles" and writing for "All fans" its OK to write total crap, lies, Boll%cks and make things up.
    What a lame excuse for lazy jounalism.

    • What's made up? I'm not defending bad journalism or 'lazy' journalism (that's an incredibly lazy turn of phrase by the way).

      AVB bangs on about Chelsea TWICE, the papers report what he says word for word. That's not lying, that's telling the truth. That's reporting the facts.

      I know you're annoyed because you're thinking of ONE article in the Express that said there would be a revolt. I'm not defending the Express. It's a shit paper and it was a shit article. But that vast majority have been balanced.

      On the day he was appointed the Mirror ran a piece where they looked at managers who had something to prove, ended up comparing him to Clough, Ferguson and Benitez. That's hardly negative is it?

  3. I have to agree with Holjunky.

    We used to say don’t believe insurance & second hand car salesmen. These days we believe them more than sports journalists, MP’s & bankers. And it’s in that order.

  4. I was surprised by AVB's comments about the owner of Chelsea FC and time spent there running the team, when it is unnecessary to rise to the bait dangled by someone wanting to create a story where no news exists. Why get involved and also comment about Chelsea players when sooner or later it will lead to them putting their replies on the record? Hurt pride, OK, understandable, when AVB gets the sack and that is it, but when he gets appointed to another club with different aims, players and circumstances, then be pleased for this lucky break and get on with the new task in hand.

    • That's kinda the point I'm making. If Wenger came out having a rant and the papers didn't report it, you lot would be saying 'what the fuck's is going on here?' A story is a story. That's how it is. AVB needs to learn not to get distracted by other things and he needs to try not to rant. I'm really, really excited about him – I think he's going go to do a great job – but he needs to be careful what he says.

      I think you're all wrong about journalism. There are plenty of fine sports journalists out there. Think Ben Pearce (Hackney Gazette) or Tom Collomosse (Evening Standard) and plenty more who cover football in general (Oliver Holt, Henry Winter). But that's you're opinion and you're entitled to it.

  5. As a pro journalist, if you have any pride you shouldn`t defend your colleagues who write complete b****cks without fact or research. Journos continue to `represent` Spurs fans in articles as Redkrapp loving, AVB suspicious sheep, whereas if they took five minutes to look on fans` blog sites they would see the truth.
    Lazy, lazy, lazy and in sport it`s not just bad news that sells papers, however clear lies, fantasy and outrageous spin certainly hamper paper sales.
    On a subject as personal and passionate as supporting my club, I am not going to swallow what know nothing journalists think that they can tell me about myself. You may want to share that with your colleagues prior to defending them.

  6. ‘Who gives a fuck if Gary Neville doesn’t like David Luiz?’

    Who gives a fuck what the morons in the press write?

    You make it sound as though success depends on what these self important know nothing numpties think or write.

    How about sticking to the facts, reporting the truth, rather than making it all up.

  7. Every time I read Redknapp described as 'Arry', I'm left with a distinctly sour suspicion confirmed. The disdain for Harry is palpable class prejudice.

    People like Harry didn't attend Cambridge and they don't frame their explanations, game analysis and arguements using sophisticated phraseology. That doesn't mean he has no qualities of equal note, or the ability to make up for his 'tactical naivety' with an equally effective process. He transmitted belief which is we played such great football and why people like Alan Hanson didn't fall about laughing on MOTD at the mooted prospect of Spurs winning the League at one stage. Confidence is a huge part of the success equation and Harry was astute enough to recognise this.

    Harry is hated as much for his perceived lack of sophistication – by people for whom a cockney accent equates to untrustworthy or 'thick' – as he is for his faults as manager (as though he's the only successful manager to have periods where they screw up).

  8. Pathetic! How you can even try and defend the indefensible is beyond me. Unless your just a wind up merchant. The crap churned and clearly made up, Over 90% of true stories are just made up bollocks. Countless misleading headlines, fictional stories purported as fact.

    On AVB you’ll be hard pushed to find a spurs fan who isn’t optimistic about the future.

    You can usually tell how well spurs will do by the hysteria caused by rival fans. First it was the never get top four bandwagon who were soon proved wrong. The claims spurs wouldnt be an embarrassment in the champions league. did t quite turn out that way.

    At this rate I cat wait for the season to start

    • Hi mr me
      I'm a spurs fan who isn't optimistic of the future when the best we can get is a Chelsea reject.
      This appointment has Christian Gross written all over it, thank goodness we can only fall one division at a time unlike Glasgow Rangers today.
      Levy has robbed genuine fans of being shareholders in their own club and just wants to sell it to anyone willing to make him and his group richer than they already are.
      Luka will be a test for belief within the team if he stays or votes with his feet

  9. Typical so called journalist painting his fellow rats as saints instead of sinners which they most cartainly are. I bet there isnt a single sports journalist that is remotely capable of telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In their eyes and warped minds, lies sells papers. This prick called it angles, yeh, angles based on lies written by scum. No wonder the low class press loved the simpleton Redknapp, always good for a quote was our Arry, always contradicting himself from one week to the next. Somehow you get the feeling that AVB wont be doing that and he sure wont be a patsy to the press.

  10. All I want now as a Spurs fan is a manager with integrity. That was Redcraps main fault. He had none. I would rather have an honest manager than a dishonest one any day. AVB cracked in front of the cameras during the last few months during his stint at Chelsea, but he spoke his mind and was honest. I thought he made a fool of himself at times but he had never been in that position before and was out of his debth. Lets hope he has learned from the experience, he says he has. I'm like many fans looking forward to next season. I hope my trust in AVB and Levy is not misplaced.

  11. Then Jockney I am afraid there’s no helping you. What is possibly there to take away from your optimism. Such is the difference in situations at Spurs and Chelsea that to even compare the two scenarios is utterly moot. It would be akin to slagging a Scottish manager off for failing at a Russian club when he didn’t speak the language. AVB never stood a chance at Chelsea. He was given a thankless task by a chairman who didn’t have the backbone to allow him to carry that task out to it’s conclusion. It’s worth noting that performances and results got no better (aside from beating us 5-1, typically enough) once RDM took over, and a very improbable CL win including 3 games which on any other day they lose comfortably does nothing to change that for me. The proof that it wasn’t AVBs fault will come when they struggle next season. But more about us. We’re spending and spending well. The chairman and manager are on the same page. AVB is making all the right noises, and so far there’s been about 8 public announcements from players commending AVBs ideas and approach to training. Combine that with us now having possibly the best facilities in Europe, and I’d say there’s plenty to be optimistic about. If you’re one of the knuckle dragging types caught outside the lane by SSN “‘bring back ‘arry, AVB won’t do any better” blah blah blah, then we’ve as much need for you as we do for Jenas. Also Modric is by no means a barometer for the level of faith in his project. For that look to the players already out in support of it. Look to Vertonghen, Walker, Friedel. Even Bentley and GDS have seen the light. Modric would want out even if we appointed Jesus himself. His head has been turned. Besides which at 35m they’re welcome to him. As great though he is, the timing just feels right to try something else and maybe make a bit of money on the side.

    Also worth pointing out that this is a long term project, and I for one wouldn’t be too disheartened even if we scraped in to finish 8th this season. But we won’t. I reckon we’ll surprise a few people in fact. COYS!

  12. And since we’re dispelling nonsense, what about our dealings since Enix took over suggests simple profiteering? Were that the case the likes of Modric and Bale would be sold of whilst their stock is highest. That was probably last summer in both instances. The ownership of the club and the delisting from the stock exchange was essential in attracting the sort of private funding required for the NDP. You are of course welcome to pop a cheque for £400 million or so in the post however. The only way Enic will sell up is with a new stadium playing in the Champion’s league year in year out. Which would put out value at about 800m by my reckoning. No one is getting shilled on this process. You get new signings and spending each year, world class training facilities, a new stadium and hopefully on pitch success to go with it. Levy and Lewis aren’t rummaging around in your handbag stealing your last tenner. I’d go so far as to say in his role of arguable the best chairman in the country, Levy has done markedly more for the future stability and success of our club. So please, stop moaning.

  13. The trouble with being a journalist AND a Spurs supporter is that it requires, necessarily, a profound form of schizophrenia …….. which you clearly have. I think that it is possible to divide football online into two bits – professional journos/enthusiastic amateurs. The journos divide into big newspapers and online set-ups. Each hunt hits and headlines; each runs stories to get both of these. If their aren't any hits then there aren't any salaries, hence the constant recycling of other peoples' information in deceitful fashion to construct an artfully tantalising headline. A few 'quality' papers contribute well (Guardian/Times/Telegraph/Independent, but are just as capable of the deceit as anyone else. The enthusiasts are mostly paddling around in the detritis at the Skum end of the market, and I have learned to leave them alone about as much as the online journos. That leaves a few good sites for real supporters of which the greatest star by far in the Spurs firmament is DML ….. many others barely make the grade. Your schizophrenia, I am afraid, looks like it is putting you into THIS category …..

  14. The fact of the matter is that most sports journalists, especially football, are lazy and ignorant. Unfortunately they still earn a good living writing and presenting rubbish on a daily basis. So all they are do every day is write crap as thay know they can get away with it. When is the last time a jouro got repremanded for wirting crap? Whenever Fergie is confronted with something he doesn't like he lambasts the guy, invariably the journo shuts up, wether he is right or wrong. So you can add cowardly to lazy and ignorant. Any other suggestions for adjectives?


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