at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Dublin – The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Andre Villas-Boas, on Sunday defended his decision to field a side minus any recognised strikers in his club's shock FA Cup exit at Leeds and insisted that the decision not to buy goalscoring reinforcements for the rest of the Premier league campaign was “a risk we are prepared to take”.
Villas-Boas said that Jermain Defoe's knock to the hip, sustained in training, was the reason for his omission from Sunday’s side, though the player is available for Wednesday's match at Norwich City. “We wanted to go through. We didn't make any aggressive changes,” Villas-Boas said, at the end of a weekend on which Queen's Park Rangers, Norwich and Liverpool have also all been criticised for a lack of focus on the FA Cup which has led to their exit from the tournament. “We have confidence in the players we choose. We could have won the game.”
Villas-Boas has already admitted that Tottenham's progress into the second half of the Premier League season with only two experienced recognised strikers – Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, who may remain absent on African Cup of Nations duty for several weeks – constitutes a danger. Declaring on Sunday that he would not bring in another frontman, he denied it would be a problem as his side pursue a Champions League place.
“We are happy with the options we have,” he said. “We understand an injury could put us in a difficult position. But it wasn't because we missed a lot of attacking opportunities that we lost (to Leeds). We could not create many clear-cut chances.”
The Leeds United manager, Neil Warnock, whose club were rewarded with an attractive fifth-round tie at Manchester City, said: “We've got some good players here. We haven't got a massive squad but when we play like we did today it makes me really proud to be the manager. It was a fabulous day for everybody. I didn't think we got anything other than we deserved.”
Warnock is unhappy about his top scorer Luciano Becchio's transfer request, which comes despite the club offering him a new three-and-a-half-year contract, which would make him comfortably the highest wage-earner at Leeds. “If we don't get a replacement he isn't going anywhere,” Warnock said. – The Independent