Tottenham Hotspur 2 Manchester United 2: Andre Villas-Boas hit back at criticism from former Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar after his team's 2-2 draw with Manchester United, claiming that the 66-year-old was not a true Spurs fan because of the manner in which he had sold the club 12 years ago.
Asked about criticism from supporters, who booed his substitution of Aaron Lennon, and that from Sugar, Villas-Boas said: “It is their [the fans’] team, their passion and they don't trade it for anything else, not like Alan Sugar who trades it for money.”
Sugar, who was in control of the club for ten years between 1991 and 2001, had previously criticised Villas-Boas’ tactics and said that he would like Sir Alex Ferguson in charge of the club, in a radio interview this week. Sugar said that he “did not understand” Villas-Boas’ tactics and that he hoped his “good friend” Ferguson could be tempted back into management by Spurs.
When he was asked to expand on his criticism of Sugar at his subsequent press conference, Villas-Boas refused to do so. However, he did not shy away from criticising reporters whom he perceived as having “an agenda” against him. He singled out two recent pieces in the Daily Mail as having “insulted” his “integrity” over his record at Porto in his all-conquering 2010-2011 season.
Villas-Boas said: “A couple of people insult my integrity, my human values, my professionalism and one of these people is sitting over here … and [he] 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.”
In an exchange with one of the reporters he had singled out, he said: “You can easily understand. I don't need to explain. I think you have always chased people, you attack people. You don't attack them by the front, you attack them sitting when you write. You attack integrities, you attack competence, you attack the integrity of the person, their human values and you don't even know that person. We never got a chance to sit down and speak about it.”
The Spurs manager even suggested that David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini had got off lightly by comparison. He said: “I don't want to undermine other managers. 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 [against United] in great, great fashion.”
Asked specifically whether he believed that there was a “personal agenda” against him, Villas-Boas said that he did not think that was the case. He also said that he was unhappy that it had been presented in some quarters that he had sought to distance himself from the 6-0 defeat at Manchester City. “I never told [sic] that the players should feel ashamed of themselves. ‘We’, that includes me.”
As for the game, he declared himself pleased with the concept of playing Paulinho behind Roberto Soldado, arguing that it has increased the speed and intensity of Spurs’ attacks. “This time we have been very aggressive with balls down the channel to try to create the situations in behind full-backs, it was in the strategy we have for this game.”
Moyes admitted that United had not matched their win over Bayer Leverkusen in mid-week. He said: “We had a great win in midweek. But for a minute in Cardiff near the end last week you would have been saying that Man United had a really good week. It is not easy place to come, Tottenham. They had own pride which they showed in their performance. So it was disappointing. United have to win. That was why in the end we were trying to get a third goal but we could not quite do it.”
Moyes also suggested that the club were close to opening talks with Wayne Rooney over a new contract. He said: “I think we are fine. We are just moving on from summer. It will be done in good course. The appropriate people will talk when time right.”