Spurs Balls: AVB V Harry Redknapp’s Ghost Writer Martin Samuel And Neil Ashton
DOES Andre Villas-Boas read Anorak? Maybe. The Spurs manager used part of his post-match press conference to criticise Daily Mail journalist Neil Ashton. Following a lively 2-2 draw with Manchester United – in which Spurs gave away two soft goals – AVB eyed Aston. He said: “A couple of people insult my integrity, my human values, my professionalism and one of these people is sitting over here. It insults the success that I have achieved in other clubs and I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s a lack of respect and an attack on a person’s integrity.”
Ashton asked what he though was “personal” about the recent criticism of his team.
“You can easily understand. I don’t need to explain. I think you have always chased people, you attack people,” replied AVB. “You don’t attack them by the front, you attack them sitting when you write. You attack integrity, you attack competence, you attack the integrity of the person, their human values and you don’t even know that person.”
First off, thank you, Neil Ashton, for making the press conference entertaining. Those things can be a chore. And second, AVB has a point. It was Ashton who wrote:
Any of us could have had AVB’s success at Porto – but he was out of his depth at Chelsea and he is the wrong man for Spurs
As ever, the press paid tribute to the man they love (whose son Jamie writes or the Mail):
Redknapp understood the traditions of the club, the swagger of a team that won a league title and three FA Cups under Bill Nicholson.
He is far too intense, something that has transmitted itself to the players in recent weeks. Results against Everton, Newcastle and the 6-0 thumping at City speak for themselves.
AVB wondered why Manchester United’s David Moyes and Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini, had not endured similar criticism. “You can easily compare situations. We have sat above Man City before and above Man United before and we haven’t seen any kind of these personal attacks to somebody, so I think that is unfair. It’s something that obviously comes with the 6-0 thrashing but more important is the team and the response and I think the players did that in great, great fashion.”
Villas-Boas pointed out that after his team’s 6-0 defeat at City he said “we should be ashamed of ourselves”. He did. But the Mail’s Martin Samuel – the ghost writer of Harry Redknapp’s autobiography, Always Managing – wrote:
He said the players should be ashamed. That is the marvellous thing about being AVB — there is always someone around to carry the can.
The Mail’s headline trilled:
What’s the beauty of being Villas-Boas? It’s always someone else’s fault”:
Only, that was balls. AVB included himself in the team’s defeat at least 13 times.
The press conference went like this:
AVB: I think yours and Martin’s (Samuel) articles were completely out of order. That is my opinion.
Ashton: And I’m entitled to mine.
Villas-Boas: Of course, but I’m entitled to mine.
Ashton: But you are the one who has the problem with it, not me.
Villas-Boas: Ok but I’m making it public.
Ashton: Surely you don’t think there is a personal agenda?
Villas-Boas: I don’t think that, when I say there are articles that attack my integrity and human values. I think I don’t need to explain myself on that. Each one of us draws their own conclusions, that’s mine, obviously Neil and Martin have theirs and I respect their opinions as well but this is my opinion of what they write… even mixing the words that I said in the press conference after Man City.
Ashton: Sorry, can you explain?
Villas-Boas: I never told that the players should feel ashamed of themselves. We, that includes me.
Ashton: But if you say we should feel ashamed of ourselves, you are including your group of players?
Simon Felstein (Tottenham head of media): It’s not about dividing them, that’s the difference. It’s not a discussion for right now, not with the cameras on Neil. I think we can talk about this after.
Ashton: No, I am happy to talk about it now.
Villas-Boas: We is us. We are everybody at the club. Don’t you agree? Why do you think this is any intention to separate myself from it?
Felstein: Move on.
All good entertaining stuff. Ashton and the Mail must be delighted to have been recognised. The Sun must be envious to have been overlooked.
We, meanwhile, recall this: