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Barca hampered by archaic FIFA

Barcelona 23 hours ago
Read
Oct 6, 2012

I knew I would turn it around - AVB

Andre Villas-Boas was always steadfast in the belief he would turn Tottenham's fortunes around after a faltering start to the Premier League season.

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• AVB: Europa League is important

The Portuguese was vilified in certain sections of the press after his difficult eight-month spell in charge of Cheslea, which ended in his sacking after rumours of dressing-room revolt.

Many Spurs fans were surprised by the dismissal of Harry Redknapp after he led the club to fourth place in the top flight and were even more surprised to see chairman Daniel Levy appoint Villas-Boas as his successor.

But after a patchy start, when they lost at Newcastle on the opening day and dropped points at home to Norwich and West Brom, Spurs have now won three on the bounce, including a first victory at Old Trafford since 1989 last weekend.

"I have never doubted my abilities, I always trusted them,'' Villas-Boas said. "It's funny how things change so dramatically. The Premier League is completely unpredictable. We started the season (badly). We are now fifth from the top. You have to perform at this level. This is the early stages in the Premier League.''

The gloss was slightly removed from that famous win at Manchester United by virtue of a midweek Europa League draw away at Panathinaikos but Villas-Boas is keen to extend their winning streak in the Premier League as they prepare to face Aston Villa on Sunday.

"We want to cement our position at the top because we understand that being at the top can drive our ambitions upwards,'' Villas-Boas said. "We have won three (league) games on the trot. Now we go into two difficult home games.

"We understand we made history by winning at Old Trafford, but if we want to take that step forward, we have to win the next couple of fixtures.''

Although Villas-Boas has overseen the departures of Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart - two of Redknapp's key players - he is still benefiting from his predecessor's policies.

Many had criticised Redknapp for not putting faith in young players during his time at White Hart Lane, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and Steven Caulker forced to go out on loan before earning their crack at first-team football.

All three players have played well under Villas-Boas, and Walker, who went on loan to Villa the season before last, is now arguably England's first-choice right back. The Portuguese boss thinks Redknapp's loan policy has given those three players the confidence to play well this season.

"I think (Walker) has benefited from going on loan and getting that playing time,'' the Spurs manager said. "He has come back stronger, full of ambition. He embraced it, as did Naughton and Caulker. We are living at the moment with the benefit from those kind of solutions. It's something we look carefully at.''

Villas-Boas is expected to recall 41-year-old goalkeeper Brad Friedel for the game against his former club despite a solid performance from France captain Hugo Lloris against Panathinaikos.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor is available after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Villas-Boas is likely to stick with Jermain Defoe - on his 30th birthday - as his lone striker.

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