Europa League - AVB shrugs off Spurs criticism

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insists he is too thick-skinned to worry about any criticism of his regime.

PA Sport
Europa League - AVB shrugs off Spurs criticism

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Andre Villas-Boas insists he has the confidence of the Spurs board

Spurs landed deep inside the Arctic Circle on Wednesday morning amid reports that Villas-Boas' days as Spurs boss could be numbered.

Tottenham's board indicated on Monday they were unhappy with Sunday's 6-0 defeat at Manchester City, but the Portuguese came out fighting in Tromso, bristling at suggestions that he was a dead man walking.

Alan Shearer, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville did not hold back on their criticism of Tottenham following their humiliating loss in Manchester, but the 36-year-old Spurs boss could not care less.

"I am immune (to criticism) right now," he said.

"I used to read a lot into situations like this, into pressure points when I was at Chelsea, but not any more. I am very indifferent.

"There is only one (area) that I come under pressure from, which is the press."

Coming in front of a packed media conference in Norway, that was quite a bold shot from the Tottenham manager, but on Wednesday night he was in combative mood.

Villas-Boas did not get animated or slam the table in frustration. That is not his style. Instead, the former Porto and Chelsea manager chose his words carefully in a controlled manner.

He did not even pause to change his white sweatshirt just before the press conference despite spilling coffee down it.

Villas-Boas said he retained the full backing of the board and playing staff in what was a tense press conference in Tromso ahead of Thursday night's Europa League match.

"I have the confidence of the board. I have the confidence of my players and I have to move on to do a proper job," Villas-Boas said.

The Spurs boss has the perfect chance to boost morale by giving Tromso a good thumping on the artificial surface of the Alfheim Stadium on Thursday.

Tromso were relegated from the Norwegian top flight two-and-a-half weeks ago and they have only collected one point from their opening four group stage games.

Villas-Boas has left 10 first-team players in London ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester United, including Jermain Defoe. Reports suggested that the England striker has already agreed to join MLS side Toronto FC in the new year, and Villas-Boas was hardly convincing in his denial.

"We've spoke a lot about this, I can't dwell on it again," said Villas-Boas, who recently said Defoe would not leave in January despite his lack of first-team football.

"I'm happy with his performances, it's been a wonderful season where he has beaten the club European record. He is a fantastic player for us. We are happy to have him on board."

A potentially lucrative move to Major League Soccer would have its benefits, but if Defoe left for Canada he would be putting his already fragile World Cup chances in severe doubt.

In Defoe's absence, Roberto Soldado will lead the line in Tromso, where locals see just half an hour of sunlight per day at this time of year.

A win would guarantee Spurs top spot in Group K with one match to go.

The game will go ahead as planned despite concerns over the weather in Tromso, which is so far north that it shares the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia.

Under-soil heating at the stadium helped clear 20cm of snow which fell on Tuesday. Temperatures are still expected to fall below zero, though.

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