Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Villas-Boas: Euro blow still hurts Spurs

Andre Villas-Boas believes he has improved as a manager while in England

Manager Andre Villas-Boas has revealed Tottenham want to get one over Arsenal because they are still hurt by losing out to their rivals in last year's race for the Champions League.

Spurs will move seven points ahead of Arsenal on Sunday if they beat their neighbours in a keenly-anticipated north London derby. Given that they go into the match on the back of an 11-match unbeaten run, Tottenham are favourites to take all three points, and go on to pip the Gunners to a Champions League spot.

Villas-Boas is mindful though that Tottenham missed out on Champions League qualification last season after letting a 10-point lead over their local rivals slip, and he said: "They are motivated because of what they have suffered in the past and what they want to achieve in the future."

Tottenham's failure to qualify was eventually sealed by Chelsea's Champions League final win in Munich. Finishing fourth was not enough.

"It's never easy to finish in the position that they did, qualifying for the Champions League in fourth spot and seeing it taken away from them because it's the rules," Villas-Boas said. "It's difficult for them because of the lead they had in the beginning."

Monday marks exactly one year since Villas-Boas was sacked just 256 days into what was meant to be an ambitious three-year project at Chelsea.

Although he will not admit it publicly, Villas-Boas may think the sacking served him well in the long term.

Chelsea sit two points below Spurs in the Barclays Premier League, and their interim manager Rafael Benitez is under extreme pressure following a midweek outburst which came after yet more abuse aimed his way from his own club's supporters. Reports of in-fighting among the Chelsea squad also continue to dog the Spaniard.

Villas-Boas, on the other hand, has a united squad that includes one of world football's hottest properties in Gareth Bale.

The Portuguese has won his second successive manager of the month award, and he admits he has improved as a boss during his time in England, saying: "Everybody learns from experience. I feel like a different manager and a different person. I think I have improved a lot. The experience has served me well."

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