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Dec 15, 2013

Just like AVB, Levy keeps making the same mistakes

Only last week I questioned why Andre Villas-Boas still seemed to be under extreme pressure, despite bouncing back from the Manchester City defeat to record good results against Manchester United, Fulham and Sunderland.

I came to the conclusion that the club had decided that they wanted him out and were now simply waiting for the right time to sack him. But AVB's future remained in his own hands. If he kept winning and picking up points, they wouldn't be able to take that final terminal step.

Unfortunately, the manager gave Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy the perfect excuse to get rid of him on Sunday. You can't lose 5-0 at home just a couple of weeks after losing 6-0 away and expect your boss to give you a pat on the head.

- Brewin: AVB light fades from sight - Crace: Abject Spurs destroyed by Reds

I've remained a Villas-Boas supporter throughout his reign, but his stubbornness has recently left me feeling very frustrated. He has persisted with tactical decisions that simply don't work.

Kyle Naughton can't play left-back, especially with an inverted winger in front of him. Michael Dawson is too slow to play as part of a high-line defence. A midfield combination of Sandro, Mousa Dembele and Paulino doesn't offer enough skill and guile, or support for Roberto Soldado, who once again was starved of service.

Villas-Boas made all of the same mistakes Sunday and in doing so signed his own death warrant. Liverpool pressed Tottenham's midfield, who simply weren't able to hold possession, while their fleet-footed attack made the most of the space behind Spurs' ramshackle back four.

When you've got a trigger-happy chairman like Levy in charge of your future, then it's best not to keep making the same mistakes. There are mitigating factors that have added to AVB's fate, but like most complicated matters they are firmly shaded in grey.

Take the defence for instance. You could very well say that an injury-hit back four with two players being played out of position were always going to struggle against Luis Suarez. Yet that would ignore the fact that Tottenham have not addressed their issues at left-back for two seasons and that they sold the promising Steven Caulker in a summer when there were huge question marks over the fitness of Younes Kaboul.

The question of the summer signings are equally murky. Did Villas-Boas or technical director Franco Baldini make those decisions? This is the problem with the two-tier system of management. These things are never clear. We simply don't know how much input the coach had and whether these were the players he wanted.

One thing that is clear is that the club made a mistake in making so many signings from outside the Premier League. They're all good players, but it's tough for anyone to move leagues and hit the ground running.

Those signings and the players that were already there have to shoulder plenty of the blame. There are no real leaders and too many players that disappear when things go wrong. At the final whistle, only Lewis Holtby -- who fell to his knees and beat the ground with his fists -- bothered to offer applause to the crowd as way of an apology. Fans will take defeat in their stride if they sense that the players gave everything and care about the result.

Levy, too, should take a look in the mirror. The pressure on the manager and team in recent weeks has been clear and it's because everyone knows that this board always turns on their manager at the first sign of problems. Martin Jol, Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas have all been successful, only to suffer the same fate when things got bumpy.

It's Levy who appointed the manager who was the subject of question marks over after his failure at Chelsea. AVB came to Spurs in a summer when Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez were both available. Villas-Boas was Levy's choice, but just 18 months later, he's changed his mind. Much like the Portuguese, Levy keeps on making the same mistakes.

Yet the chairman is never going to sack himself, nor valuable players that don't perform. It's the manager's head that is always on the chopping block and they're handsomely rewarded for that risk.

There are many Tottenham fans lamenting this decision and an equal number celebrating. What we all should be united on is the fact that this constant instability is not in the club's interests. And whatever you think of Villas-Boas as coach, he at the very least deserves everyone's respect for the dignity -- and to borrow a phrase of his -- and the human values that he's shown during his tenure.