as great as we are, we tipsters gotta eat too

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Three-Transfers Road to Improvement: Tottenham

Another article i wrote on bleacher report

This is the eighth part of my "Three Transfers" series, and the focus is now on Tottenham Hotspur, the geographical arch-rivals of Arsenal.

I say "geographical," because they have never really challenged Arsenal in the league since Wenger's arrival. The closest they came to finishing above Arsenal was a few seasons back, when the chef I paid cooked up a heartwarming (and stomach-upsetting) meal of rat faeces pasta for the Spurs players, and they went on to lose their last game meekly to West Ham.

On paper, Spurs have a squad that should be finishing higher than the eighth position they ended up in. They got off to a torrid start this season, and at one point, there was even talk of relegation. Of course, that was never going to happen, but certainly, looking at the squad, I can see a few areas where they could improve.


Gareth Bale and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are both good going forward, but crucially, both do not have the required defensive awareness (at least not yet), to succeed in the top flight as a first-choice left-back for a team chasing European football.

This is definitely the weakest link in the Spurs team, and if Redknapp does not fix this in the summer, the Tottenham defence will continue to look shaky and flimsy next season.

In my opinion, Spurs should go for a no-nonsense type of defender, as their attacking options are good enough to create chances, so their defenders should just stick to the most basic task of defending.

Someone in the mould of Hermann Hreidarsson would be good, but obviously the man from Iceland is too old to be considered as a potential signing.

A realistic target would be Stephen Warnock from Blackburn Rovers. He is a reliable defender, and while going forward is not his strongest point, stabilising the defence is far more important for the Spurs team to succeed.

With European football unlikely to arrive at Ewood Park in the near future, a chance to move to the capital, and a higher possibility of featuring in European football, could appeal to Warnock. Wages will definitely be much higher as well, so all that remains is whether Blackburn will sell.

Tottenham apparently need to sell before they can buy, but with Harry Redknapp looking keen to clear out most of the squad, I am pretty sure they can raise enough money to prise Warnock away from the clutches of the walrus-lookalike "Big Sam" Allardyce.


As mentioned above, Tottenham's best season was quite some time back, when Michael Carrick was still at White Hart Lane. This is no coincidence.

He was like a conductor, orchestrating the moves in the middle of the park. He rarely ever lost the ball, and could see passes that the other midfielders currently there can't.

Wilson Palacios is a fantastic battler, and will never shy away from a challenge, but he cannot be relied upon as the creative hub of a team.

Similarly, Jenas and Zokora will give you non-stop running and energy, but they lack the vision to start moves the way Carrick did.

Perhaps a case can be made for Tom Huddlestone, who has the vision and the technique to spray the balls around, but unfortunately, he has been largely inconsistent, and cannot be relied on week in, week out.

One option is to move Luka Modric into the middle, with two midfielders in Palacios and Jenas behind him to do the dirty work. Modric possesses everything you need in a creative midfielder, and I think he would be a huge hit in the centre of midfield, floating around creating opportunities for his teammates.

That would leave a hole on the left wing though, with Modric currently being played there quite often. This will be addressed in the next position that I will talk about.

Meanwhile, in terms of possibly signing a central midfielder, I think Spurs could target Rafael Van der Vaart. Disgruntled at the lack of first-team opportunities at Real Madrid, Van der Vaart could well jump at the opportunity of joining a club as glamorous as Spurs.

He could perhaps see himself as the man to lead Spurs back to Europe, and if that's the case, then Tottenham will be very lucky indeed.


Currently, Modric occupies the position most of the time, with Gareth Bale and David Bentley also taking up that spot.

David Bentley has proven that he is definitely not suited to playing on the left wing, as he has struggled to have any influence in games when started there.

Gareth Bale has a good left foot on him, and as he does not seem to be very good defensively, playing him at left midfield seems quite wise. However, he is still young and inexperienced playing there, so should not be a first-team option.

Tottenham have been linked with Stewart Downing for ages, so they might be in for him again this summer.

However, there are two problems with this.

One, Stewart Downing is ruled out with injury 'til the January transfer window, so Spurs might want to wait till January to make their move.

Two, Downing's best attribute is his pin-point delivery. Who in the Spurs front-line is equipped to take advantage of that though?

Pavlyuchenko is probably the only one who can claim to be good in the air, and even then, he isn't the best. Let's not even try to imagine Robbie Keane or Jermain Defoe beating Christopher Samba to a header.

So, I think Spurs should try to sign Martin Petrov. He would be perfect for them, as he would run down the left flank, beat a man, and provide good cut-backs for the strikers.

Alternatively, he can put his left foot to good effect and take long shots. He is an explosive player, and Tottenham would be frightening to defend against with Aaron Lennon and Martin Petrov on the flanks.

If Spurs cannot get Petrov, they could try getting Royston Drenthe from Real Madrid. Unused and unhappy, Drenthe would possibly arrive on a cut-price deal, and he has the advantage of being versatile, as he has featured at left-back and central midfield before.

Being an Arsenal fan, I dearly hope that Spurs will not sign any of the players listed above, as it would undoubtedly strengthen them. Here's hoping they end up signing Mikael Silvestre and Abou Diaby instead! For £100 million too!

No comments: