This is part two of the on going series of four from the Spurs Roundtable of Willie Gannon, Christopher Potter, David Jacobs and Eric Gomez.
Author of this piece: David Jacobs.
In the Juan-days, the weekly team sheet hardly changed; not even Jermain Defoe got the matches that he should’ve had. This left Keane and "Golden Boy" Berbatov to play every time. Ramos didn’t trust the younger players like John Bostock or Obeka who had just come up from the academy.
Maybe Ramos thought that placing them in the squad was a risk to a team already fighting relegation, or he wanted to make the players work for their place.
The £1million question is now—“How can you make the players work for their place on the squad if you don’t give them a chance to play?”
Now, Ramos has departed and a top-draw replacement has arrived fresh from the city of Portsmouth, which he has received freedom from.
His name is Harry Redknapp.
Tottenham is starting to pick up the pace now with their improved mentality and quantity of possession. Redknapp has demonstrated the reason why he is far different from Juande Ramos.
Harry (or Arry as he’s more affectionately known), gives the younger and second string players a chance to show him and everyone else watching how good they are and how much better they can be. This obviously means more choice on who to choose as the starting eleven.
January is now approaching and with that month comes the mid-season transfer window. It is a chance to grab last-minute players to paper over cracks in the squad.
Who should Spurs target?
Who are they targeting?
And are there any players who should go?
Who are Spurs targeting? Who should they target?
Up until the new season, the Spurs were lacking defensive clout while being too top-heavy in the striking department. With one of the best strike forces in the League, you’d expect to win matches and even get into the top-four. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Spurs’ weakness at set-pieces gave cheap goals away and too frequently to be classified as "just one of those things, whoopsie, blue moon," etc.
Drastic measures were taken to draft in some defensive presence for the team.
Vedran Corluka was a great call by Levy and an interest has been shown in Fulham’s 27 year-old defender Brede Hangeland. This possible target would be used as a stand-in for injury-prone captain Ledley King who has been regulated to no more than 2 games per month.
But goal-keeper Gomes has caused a great deal of concern and debate since his arrival from PSV Eindhoven, where he was at the peak of his performance.
His shot-stopping hasn’t been anything below outstanding, but his corner-stopping has.
Do Spurs need to merely swap him for ex-Real Madrid goalie César Sánchez?
Should they just keep Gomes in the starting eleven and hope he improves? Or should Spurs swap one or both of them for Wolves’ keeper Hennessey and/or Bolton’s successful Jussi Jaaskeleinen?
Jaaskeleinen has been brilliant at Bolton. His "double saves’"against Hull City a few weeks ago saved Bolton from embarrassment.
A double save is the recent term for making one save/parry and then quickly rushing over to parry a second attempt at goal in a matter of seconds. It’s something that I personally had never seen before.
I got a bit of a positive shock when I heard that Spurs were alert about German midfielder Podolski possibly moving from Bayern Munich and also "ready to buy" the dynamic Inter Milan striking duo of Balotelli (£18million) and Adriano (at a knockdown price of £7million) in January.
But I still think with the fluent running of Luka Modric and the shrewdness of Pavlyuchenko and Fraizer Campbell upfront, we might not need a midfielder or two strikers.
I would personally just take one of those Milan strikers in preparation for the departure of Fraizer Campbell, unless Spurs make a move to buy him off Fergie. Would Spurs be so cheeky as to ask for a permanent deal? Maybe, if they’re prepared to see Fergie’s face to go redder than Manchester United’s shirt.
Who should Spurs be targeting?
Spurs have a loose cannon goal-keeper, but I don’t think they should be hasty in buying another one, or even swapping for César Sánchez. They should keep a watchful eye on other keepers.
The defense has improved.
Woodgate’s winning headers using his love of playing leapfrog and Dawson is starting to regain the form he had a few seasons ago.
The left-back position might need another player, because Bale has had quite a few minor injuries which keeps him out of games. Assou-Ekotto is ok, but who else in the squad is also naturally suited to the left-back position?
That needs to be answered with a new player. I know John Arne Riise isn’t left footed, but placing him in the defence somewhere would be brilliant.
The midfield is bulked out enough, in my opinion. There are top-quality players like Modric with his glimmers of Ginola-worthy brilliance. Zokora makes good runs through the middle even if he can’t finish the job by scoring. Lennon—who is still digesting the jet engine he swallowed when facing Blackburn—can dash so far down the pitch and then into the penalty box which wears out opposing defenders trying to catch him up.
He can’t cross very well, but that’s why Bentley is a significant player on the squad. He can cross with precision and put a load of pepper behind his shots at goal.
I wouldn't mind if Podolski or Beckham come to Spurs, but it’s not important. As I have said before, "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it". But why would Daniel Levy listen to me?
There’s already plenty of choice for Harry when it comes to mid-fielders such as Huddlestone, Jenas, O’Hara and Taraabt, so there’s no need to scout any others.
The squad has recently enriched the strikers section with Russian international regular Roman Pavlyuchenko. He and Bent are showing a slight likeness to the dynamic Keane-Berbatov partnership.
Of course it hasn’t fully showed yet, but little by little, it will happen. When paired with Roman, Bent does as the Roman does. Newcastle United’s Michael Owen might still be desperate to get out of St. James’ Park because of the recent controversy and struggle experienced there.
Maybe Spurs can use a player with more presence and punch such as Spanish forward David Villa who in the summer was looking to play under Juande Ramos for £20million, but no deal was ever struck in the end.
All of this begs the question about whether players should be imported from far and wide, nurtured from the grassroots within country borders, or even just pulled up from the Spurs academy.
Are there any players who should go?
A lot of the old squad were removed by Comolli to make room for "better" players. Although, I wouldn’t have considered Steed Malbranque as a bad player by any means.
I think the wrong players went. Malbranque’s work ethic and commitment was second to none. Jermain Defoe was severely mistreated by Ramos and should have still played. Robbie Keane’s move to Liverpool hit the striking department hard.
Hossam Ghaly hasn’t had the best reputation at Spurs. He's been known to throw his shirt to the floor out of rebellion after being substituted during a match, which is deemed a highly disrespectful act in football.
He is currently on loan at Derby County, but a permanent deal fell through because
Ghaly wanted to stay in the Premier League.
Derby County were relegated last season. I think Ghaly has outstayed his welcome, but there’s no other Premier League club who have shown an interest as of yet, so he’s stuck at Spurs.
Kevin Prince Boateng wasn’t exactly the best player in the squad either.
There was just no impact on the match from him. But when he made a recent appearance in Harry Redknapp’s improved Spurs side, he was better. I would say he should’ve been transferred with Tainio and Malbranque in the Jol and Ramos eras, but I might be having second thoughts at present. Watch this space.
Final Thought: I wouldn’t mind David Beckham playing in midfield for Spurs after he’s been to A.C. Milan. After all, Victoria Beckham can’t shop forever.