Tottenham Hotspur’s players must learn to adapt to the methods of new manager Andre Villas-Boas, rather than the other way round, according to former England star John Barnes.
The North Londoners made a slow start to the new season, taking just two points from their first three league matches, leading some in the media to again highlight the Portuguese coach’s disappointing eight-month spell at Chelsea, where it is said he was unable to get the players to fall into line.
Although Spurs have since kickstarted their season with back-to-back Premier League wins over Reading and Queens Park Rangers - as well as a League Cup victory at Carlisle - Barnes believes the players must heed any advice handed out by their new manager, and follow his instructions even if they are at odds with those of his predecessor.
"Tottenham have lost Harry Redknapp - and everyone loves Harry - but now they’ve got Andre Villas-Boas, they need to get behind him," Barnes exclusively told FourFourTwo.com.
"He has a method of playing which players have to buy into. Sometimes you'll see a manager walk into a club and the players respond badly to that. For me that doesn’t reflect badly on the manager, it reflects badly on the players, because the players should buy into what the manager is saying. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
"Of course, it could get similar to Chelsea [under Villas-Boas last season], where the players got too used to the manager getting all the stick, and then almost didn't seem to be accountable for the bad performances.
"But if the club has made him manager, the players should listen to exactly what he says, and the fans should put pressure on the players to do what the manager says. So at Spurs it's down to whether the players like him, and whether the players want to be playing to his methods, but it seems to be slowly turning round for Tottenham after a slow start.”
Despite this recent upturn in results, Barnes, now a pundit with ESPN, still believes Villas-Boas' side will struggle to continue that run in Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Old Trafford, where Tottenham have not won a match in more than 20 years.
"Although Spurs have improved, Manchester United are a great side, so they’ll be favourites to win the game. Them and Manchester City are the two favourites for the title."
By James Maw
John Barnes was speaking ahead of ESPN’s live and exclusive coverage of Man United v Spurs at 4.30pm on Saturday. Visit espn.co.uk/tv for detailscomments