Andre Villas-Boas has admitted that he was left exasperated at the fact that Tottenham Hotspur could not get a deal for Joao Moutinho over the line when he was in charge of at White Hart Lane.
While Villas-Boas’ first season at Tottenham was relatively promising, with the Portuguese coach leading the club to a fifth-place finish in 2012-13, his second season proved disastrous after the departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
He ended up losing his job just a few months into his second campaign, with the North London club turning to Tim Sherwood as interim boss before Mauricio Pochettino joined the club in 2014.
Villas-Boas has now spoken about the increasing use of data analytics in recruitment and how it is not always easy to quantify intangibles like leadership.
AVB wanted Joao Moutinho at Tottenham
The former Spurs boss used the Lilywhites’ inability to get a deal for Moutinho over the line as an example, suggesting that the midfielder was not a target that the Tottenham recruitment department was particularly keen on.
Speaking at a Web Summit in Lisbon, Villas-Boas said (via The Independent): “The most evident case I had when I was at Tottenham and I wanted to sign Joao Moutinho and he was sitting sixth on the list compiled by data people.
“The first on the list was Dembele, we ended up signing him and we almost ended up signing Moutinho as well, but we lost it against the clock on the last day of the transfer window.
“But it drained me emotionally to the point where, here was a guy that the data was not showing all that he represented from the coach’s perspective, which is a player that knows your leadership, a player that knows your style, adaptability to your style.
“This can be quantified, but it must be done in the view of a coach and not a single view. This was the problem in the beginning and we made massive, massive arguments in the beginning because of this with Moutinho.
“We signed Dembele but missed out on Moutinho and it was unfortunate because we were going to build up a very strong midfield. This is precisely where you have to have that balance to understand, what is your coaching philosophy and how it should be integrated into the data that has been provided to you.”
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I think Villas-Boas is making a broader point about how data might not measure some intangibles rather than trying to blame the Tottenham hierarchy for not getting a deal for Moutinho over the line.
While data analysis plays an increasingly important role in identifying outliers (hidden gems), the eye test continues to play a huge role in football, given the long list of variables that affect performance. That is why managers need to have the final say on transfer targets.
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