What a difference a year makes. After a victory against bitter North London rivals Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in third position in the Premier League. More importantly, they are now 7 points clear of Arsenal in their race for fourth place and qualification to the Champions League and all the financial rewards that come with it. Things finally appear to be looking up for Manager Andre Villas-Boas. This time last year, Villas-Boas was on the football scrap heap. He had come over to England in the Summer of 2011 to Manage Chelsea from FC Porto in Portugal. The young manager already had a big reputation in the game despite his relatively young age. He had steered Porto to the Title in an undefeated season. Add to that the Portuguese Cup and UEFA Europa Cup and in his first season at FC Porto he had achieved an unprecedented Treble. Things didn't continue in the same way at Chelsea. Chairman Roman Abramovich paid Porto £13.3 million ($20.17m) to bring Villas-Boas over and expected big things. The Chelsea players are known for having a lot of influence on what goes on at the club and they were said to be less than impressed with Villas-Boas's training methods and Management style. Reports of unrest spread like wildfire and Chelsea quickly fell out of the title race and more concerning still, the Top 4. Things finally came to a head in their Champions League game against Napoli, where he left senior players on the bench after an apparent heated exchange with some of them in the Changing rooms before the game. Abramovich begun to ask questions about AVB's approach and team selection. Things went from bad to worse when they were defeated 1-0 at home to West Brom, where it was evident the players were no longer fully committed to the Manager and he was relieved of his duties. He must have looked on with some bitterness at the rest of Chelsea's season as they shocked everyone by winning the Champions League. Once the brightest young Manager in the game, Villas-Boas was lost. Unemployed and wondering if anybody would give him another chance to prove himself. Enter Tottenham Hotspur. Chairman Daniel Levy saw enough in Villas-Boas during his interview to give him a chance to redeem himself. Tottenham were a promising young side with top 4 aspirations, so AVB could have landed worse jobs to come back to. However, he has got the best out of this team, added key new signings and has turned Spurs into one of the most exciting teams in the League. When you look across London and see the Managerial fiasco that has transpired at Chelsea this season, no doubt AVB is looking like having the last laugh. Sunday's 2-1 win over Arsenal and beleaguered Manager Arsene Wenger cemented their Champions League position. 7 points will take a monumental effort from Arsenal if they want to catch them. They punished Arsenal's high defensive line in the first half through great finishes from Aaron Lennon and the sensational Gareth Bale. Bale has been mind-blowing in recent weeks and is the main reason behind Tottenham's surge up the table. The Welsh international has also been catching the eye of the European Super Powers with his performances this year. There has been speculation that Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are all reportedly keen to take Bale from Tottenham's grasp at the end of the season for a reported fee of £50 million ($75.2m). Getting into the Champions League is imperative if they want to keep one of the hottest properties in World Football currently. If they succeed in this then they should get another season out of Bale at least. Villas-Boas has also be extremely shrewd in the transfer market. He has identified the areas of the pitch that need to be strengthened and has found value for money without question. Three players in particular have come in this season and have been a big influence in the progression of the club. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Defender Jan Vertonghen and Midfielder Mousa Dembele. Lloris has always been highly regarded and was once touted as one of the best Goalkeepers in World football whilst at French side Lyon. Although a regular French International, his career seemed to become stagnant and it was evident for all to see that a change was needed. Spurs coming in for him was somewhat surprising as they already had Brad Friedel, Carlo Cudicini and Gomes on their books and it wasn't consider a position of need. The fee was £12.3 million ($18.6m), expensive for a Goalkeeper who wasn't guaranteed a regular position in the starting lineup. Things didn't start too brightly for Lloris as Brad Friedel proved stubborn in relinquishing his Number 1 jersey. Lloris complained to the media about his playing time and it seemed as if he was starting to question whether he had made the right decision. A few months in and things are a lot brighter. Lloris has established himself as the first choice Keeper and has delivered some outstanding performances in recent weeks. He looks to have fully settled at Spurs and has already rewarded Villas-Boas' faith in him. He may not be the best Goalkeeper in the World, but you would struggle to name 5 better than him currently. Jan Vertonghen also arrived in the Summer and took his time to settle. An £7 million ($10.59m) arrival from Ajax, the Belgium International struggled to live up to the big reputation he came to England with. He was alternating between left back and centre back and this only compounded his misery. Not to many were complaining about his performances during this time. However, he didn't look settled and clearly wasn't comfortable playing out of position. Things are different now. Vertonghen is playing in his favoured position of Centre Back and has been thriving. He has been colossal. During Tottenham's rise up the table, this was no more evident than against Arsenal. Vertonghen produced a man of the match display that had everybody in awe. He read the game extremely well and kept the dangerous Theo Walcott quiet for the majority of the game. Vertonghen is now one of the first names on the team sheet and the dynamic defender is a big part of Tottenham's future. Mousa Dembele had been a revelation at Fulham during his time there and Villas-Boas had immediately identified the powerful midfielder as a priority target. £15 million ($22.69m) was enough to persuade Fulham to part with the Belgium International, something they have probably regretted every day since. Although it was rumoured that they had no choice as this met the release clause in Dembele's contract. Dembele is the driving force in the Spurs Midfield, he is as close to as perfect midfielder as you will ever see. Reads the game extremely well, has a terrific engine, is ferocious in the tackle and has superb vision. Gareth Bale has benefited greatly from Dembele's presence next to him in Midfield. Dembele also has an eye for goal, scoring 7 times this season. There is no doubt that he has softened the blow of losing Luka Modric to Real Madrid and he is only going to improve as he grows in stature playing for one of the bigger clubs in the Premier League. Another Masterstroke from Villas-Boas. Villas-Boas has also proved to be a very intelligent and humble Manager. He comes across extremely well in his interviews and his analysis of the game is second to none. He also isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong, as was the case with Michael Dawson. When Villas-Boas came into the management seat at Spurs he initially decided that club captain Michael Dawson was surplus to requirements. Dawson, an England International, was perplexed by this decision but was very professional about the situation. Tottenham accepted a bid from free-spending Queens Park Rangers and Dawson was given permission to speak to them. After lengthy discussions, Dawson decided that the move wasn't for him and decided to stay and fight for his place at Tottenham. Eight months on, Dawson has re-established himself as a regular member of the team. He has shown great character and work ethic to achieve this and Villas-Boas has stated how impressed he has been with Dawson. Some Managers would have stuck to their guns and deemed Dawson surplus to requirements. However Villas-Boas wasn't afraid to admit he had been too quick to judge Dawson's ability and was willing to put him back in the team after some impressive displays in training. There is still some work to be done, the main concern being their lack of firepower upfront. They only have the enigmatic Emanuel Adebayor and the inconsistent and often injured Jermaine Defoe to call upon to play as a striker, which clearly isn't enough. They made a move to rectify this in January with a substantial offer for Brazilian Leandro Damiano, which they couldn't agree upon. The general consensus being that they will move again for him in the Summer. So, with a mouthwatering Europa Cup tie with European Giants Inter Milan to look forward to on Thursday, things have rarely looked brighter at Tottenham. They can thank Villas-Boas for that. They can also thank Chelsea for giving up on a man they paid a Kings Ransom for. Judging by the managerial situation there at the moment. You'd think they regret that decision just a little bit. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_
April 08 2014 10:05 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?
April 08 2014 9:46 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?
April 08 2014 9:41 AM EPL NEWS: FIVE FINALS TO GLORY - WILL LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE?