The Independent London Newspaper



THE TALK: Spurs and the transfer market



RAFAEL Van Der Vaart is a valuable addition to the squad.

Sandro, who I have only seen on a fleeting You Tube clip, sounds like he will give us another option for the Wilson Palacios, ball snatching role.

William Gallas has bags of expeirence... so are we happy with how the squad looks for the next six months?

In many ways, yes: this squad got us into fourth spot last year and at times played some really great football. They should have fired us in to an FA Cup final too, and when injuries hit – Modric was out for the autumn, Lennon out for the spring, and various others had knocks and sprains – we had ready made replacements: Remember, man of the moment Gareth Bale didn't get a first team game properly before January, when Benoit Assou-Ekotto hurt his knee.

David Bentley stepped up to the plate when he was needed, and for a new signing, Sebastien Bassong slipped easily into Ledley's place when the skipper couldn't play.

Harry and Daniel Levy said they would only buy someone this summer who was really able to give us something that bit extra: apparently Levy offered Luis Fabiano a three year contract at £90,000 a week – shattering the celebrated wage structure – but had to hold off until we'd despatched Young Boys to ensure Champions League cash was available. By that time, according to reports in Spain, the Brazilian had changed his mind and signed a new deal with Seville.

Levy also travelled to Germany to get the signature of Edin Dzeko, but was understandably put off by the £35m asking price. Ashley Young was also on the radar, but at £20m and a weekly wage which again would make him the top earner at the Lane, Harry and Dan understandably held off until the finances were clearer. It meant it went down to the wire, and last ditch attempts to land another forward (and I imagine flog Keane or Pav to make room) just weren't going to happen.

The areas that strengthening would have been required is really only up front: while we have four strikers we can call on, none of them have really done enough it seems to make Harry write their names down first, and a team of this talent needs a 20-goal a season man leading it.

Harry can sometimes dilly-dally when it comes to strikers, and not sticking with his preferred two may hit their confidence and stop them developing that intrinsic understanding that forward partners need to develop (Klinsmann / Sheringham, for example...)

Yet he also has confidence in the four we have. There have been murmurs on the terraces that Robbie Keane is a busted flush after his unhappy sojourn Merseywards, that he is not the same player: I'd say Keano always responds after getting a run of games under his belt (remember two Christmases ago when Defoe had an ankle knock and Keane came in and played brilliantly?).

It is something he hasn't had for over a year now. The only issue for me with the Irishman is his enthusiasm takes him all over the pitch, and with a strong midfield, there is not really the need for a forward to drop deep and make things happen anymore: Bale, Hudd, Modric and Lennon are more than capable. If he is going to play, he needs to lead the line: not a Keane strong point.

Pav I have a soft spot for: I feel the Russian has also not had the run in the team he would have liked to get going, and he joined at a time of immense upheaval: the sale of Berbs, the fact Ramos was not up to the Premier League challenge, and the fact Pav had not had a close season break for nearly three eyars because of the Euro Championships and the Russian football season being different to ours all made things tricky for him at first. Throw in his lack of English and moving to new city, I can see why he found it hard to get going. But his strikes against Young Boys and his work in the Spring when he was needed to bolster our league challenge shows that he is Premiership quality.

Then there is Crouch: yes, he can mnke us feel a bit one dimensional, and when he holds the ball up, he rarely plays that killer pass other frontmen we've had would do when they have won possession up the pitch – think of those passes into the channels Sheringham used to play. But his goal ratio is such that he is valuable.

Finally, Defoe: the best goal poacher in England? He is often advertised as such. But he too has had a drought, and people grumble that he gets caught off side and goes to ground too often, and then is selfish when it comes to turning his marker and getting into dangerous positions. Often a slipped pass to a team mate is an option that Defoe, with his mind solely on pulling the trigger, ignores.

So all have strong points, all have weak points, and that is Harry's dilemma: none have done quite enough to mean Harry and Dan would not have spent big on a new centre forward if the right person came along. So while that may be a slight disappointment in terms of transfer movement this summer, Harry's squad are still well equipped for the coming challenges: it just wants one of our four strikers to raise their game a notch and make that themselves undroppable.


3.42PM September 2, 2010


THE TALK is where our football writers share their views on Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.


Post new comment