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May 11, 2013

AVB refuses credit for Bale switch

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has admitted he was forced into playing Gareth Bale in a central striking role this season after he was left short of attacking options by the club's failure to make any new additions to the squad.

• AVB: Bale deserves bumper deal
• Blog: A good season

Villas-Boas conceded in January that he was hoping for the Tottenham board to "explore the options" of recruiting another striker to compliment the misfiring duo of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe, who have scored just four Premier League goals between them in 2013.

While some have hailed Villas-Boas for his decision to switch Bale from his wide role and use him as a makeshift striker, the Spurs boss has admitted that move was forced upon him rather than decided upon by choice.

"We tested it (Bale as a striker) out of necessity," Villas-Boas said. "We didn't have Defoe for the game against Liverpool and not Adebayor either. It was out of necessity. It wasn't in my mind to do this when I came here."

Villas-Boas confirmed the move to switch Bale to the centre came after the Wales international requested to be given more freedom to go for goals in a meeting at Tottenham's Enfield training base, with the idea subsequently embraced by his manager.

"I said to all of my teams that they can come into my office if they want," he stated. "It's no problem. Gareth and I had a conversation and you can see that he is enjoying his football playing in this position. His performances have been exceptional.

"I have spoken about how this team has changed from this season compared to last. Different players coming through, adapting to a new reality and doing well. Gareth has done that as well as his team-mates. Aaron Lennon and Defoe have had to adapt as well."

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas has warned his players to expect a "very aggressive" battle when they take on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday, with victory a necessity for Spurs if they are to maintain their fading hopes of a top four finish.

Villas-Boas hinted he is not an admirer of the style of play adopted by the Potters in comments that may not be appreciated by Tony Pulis and his Stoke players, but he stopped short of criticising the side regarded by many observers as the most physical in the Premier League.

"It is a difficult place to go," he added. "They play a totally different kind of football, very aggressive and direct, but it is not for me to judge them on that as it has brought them success.

"You have to set up differently against them. Set-plays are one of their major strengths. Not only throw ins, corners also. They always prepare their strategy well.

"We will get a better picture of the Champions League qualification and relegation. If we make it through against Stoke with three points, it will probably come down to the game Arsenal have away against Newcastle (on Sunday week)."

Villas-Boas confirmed that he expects midfielder Mousa Dembele to have recovered from a muscle injury to take his place in the Tottenham line-up at Stoke.

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