Talking Sport: Why AVB and Benitez deserve more respect

Villas Boas''Portsmouth V Chelsea'Stamford Bridge'FA Cup 3rd Round
Villas Boas''Portsmouth V Chelsea'Stamford Bridge'FA Cup 3rd Round

Tottenham Hotspur are in the top four of the Premier League and in the last 16 of the Europa League, writes Patrick Norrie.

Furthermore, Andre Villas-Boas achieved an historic win at Old Trafford in his first season, something no Spurs manager had done in 23 years. It would be fair to say, then, that AVB is a talented manager.

However this can be easily forgotten if you read a national press which has often unfairly ridiculed him, particularly over the way he expresses himself in interviews.

Before he joined Chelsea, Boas was feted as one of the most exciting young managers in Europe, having won the treble with Porto in his first season at the club.

His reputation took a hammering while he was manager at Chelsea. The press saw him as an easy scapegoat for the inconsistencies in the club’s performances.

Yet in 2011-12, Boas averaged 1.7 points per game compared to Roberto di Matteo’s 1.5. Perhaps a club which is a plaything of a distant billionaire and where short-termism is rife is not the best indicator of one’s managerial talent.

Villas-Boas’ image has suffered at Tottenham even though he has been a success so far. He has been mocked for his use of the English language, such as when he claimed Jermain Defoe can ‘smell’ a cross. This supposed weakness is accentuated at Tottenham because of his predecessor, Harry Redknapp, a media darling who is much more candid with the press.

Rafael Benitez, the current interim Chelsea manager, can relate to AVB’s experience with the press. Benitez’s image has also suffered because he can often be cold in press conferences. His CV, though, is hugely impressive, guiding Liverpool to their best points tally ever in the Premier League while winning the Champions League and FA Cup.

Yet his managerial methods were often criticised, with detractors questioning his use of rotation, even though Sir Alex Ferguson rotates his team all the time.

Another of the critics’ bugbears was zonal marking, neglecting the fact Liverpool had an impressive defensive record with Pepe Reina winning the Premier League Golden Glove award for three successive years.

If an Englishman had Villas-Boas’ CV, he would be celebrated by the English media. Yet what is clear is if a foreign manager doesn’t nurture a relationship with the media, he is more likely to receive a bad press - even if he has an admirable CV.

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