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Andr Villas-Boas wary of official talk

Gary Jacob The Times Published 9 minutes ago Andr Villas-Boas said yesterday he risked being fined if he expressed his true feelings about Manchester United benefiting from refereeing decisions at Old Trafford. The Tottenham Hotspur head coach felt moved to lodge a formal complaint about the performance of the officials for not ruling out two goals for offside in Uniteds 3-1 victory over his Chelsea side on his previous visit to the stadium a year ago. Tottenham, too, have been on the wrong end of some controversial decisions from officials at the stadium, notably when Pedro Mendes believed that he had scored a winning goal in the final minute in 2005 and two decisions that went against Heurelho Gomes, the goalkeeper, in consecutive years. Mohammed Al Fayed, Patrick Vieira and Mark Hughes all expressed grievances about United receiving favourable decisions last season when the club were awarded 11 penalties, nine of which were at home. Villas-Boas was cautious about answering whether officials are influenced into making poor decisions at Old Trafford after Roberto Martnez was charged by the FA for criticising the award of a penalty to United in their 4-0 win over his Wigan Athletic side two weeks ago. Its an interesting question but a question that in this country is impossible to respond [to], Villas-Boas said. It would be brilliant if we could respond to a couple of questions, but I paid a very big fine last year and I wont make the same mistake again. It puts into question pressure on the referee. Villas-Boas, who was referring to being fined 12,000 for comments made after Chelseas 1-0 defeat away to Queens Park Rangers, said that Tottenham would not be intimidated like many other teams are before they step out on to the pitch against United. I will never stop expressing myself at Old Trafford, he said. There is obviously a psychological impact you can create if you become invincible at home for a certain period. That happened with lots of teams in the past.

The Portuguese has not spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson since being dismissed by Chelsea in March, shortly after the sides had drawn 3-3 at Stamford Bridge. I wasnt that privileged [to hear from him], he said. The United manager was under pressure at the wrong end of the table the previous time Tottenham won a league match at Old Trafford, which was notable for Gary Linekers rare strike from outside the penalty area 23 years ago. United have won five consecutive league games after losing away to Everton in the opening week of the season, although they had to come from behind to beat Southampton and were clinging on in a 3-2 win over Fulham. I dont think they struggle defensively, Villas-Boas said. Michael Carrick is coming in strong and gives more compactness to the team. Jermain Defoe will continue as the lone striker but Tottenham are considering playing him in tandem with Emmanuel Adebayor when the Togo forward recovers from a groin injury. Villas-Boas said that Defoe, who has scored four club goals this season, was benefiting from being first choice for the first time at White Hart Lane. Defoe has received his confidence from me and is showing his qualities and he has been excellent, the head coach said. He is getting continuous opportunities maybe he didnt have in the past. Im sure it has an impact on how he feels about himself in this team. He is looking extremely happy. For a striker, goals are absolutely decisive. He is performing and I cannot put anything into question. His desire, motivation, movement, creating so much, hes been immense for the team. Villas-Boas said he welcomed Tottenhams search for a director of football but said that Tim Sherwood would remain technical coordinator. It is very difficult to find the right competence and skills in this country for a high-profile position and not everyone can fit these criteria, he said. Tough for Tottenham Spurs have not had the rub of the green at Old Trafford in recent years 2005 Pedro Mendes lobs Roy Carroll in the final minute of a goalless game. Carroll spills the ball at least a yard over his line and scoops it away. Mark Clattenburg waves play on after his assistant says it has not crossed the line.

2009 Tottenham lead 2-0, but the game turns on a controversial penalty award by Howard Webb early in the second half. Heurelho Gomes sprawls at Michael Carricks feet and touches the ball away cleanly, but the momentum of Spurs goalkeeper carries him into the United man. Cristiano Ronaldo converts and United go on to win 5-2. 2010 Gomes assumes a free kick has been awarded because Nani, after tumbling in the penalty area, stops the ball with his hand. The goalkeeper puts the ball on the floor and Nani appears from behind him to knock it into an unguarded net.