Will Spurs pay for their lack of ambition?

Posted by - February 2, 2011 - Premier League, Tottenham, Transfer News and Gossip

Neville, Beckham and Adam simply didn’t fit the bill

You would be forgiven for stating that 2010 was the year of the Spurs.

First there was qualification for the Champions League, beating the new World’s Richest Club™ to that particular honour. Following this came the advent of the Spurs Superhero, with Gareth Bale transforming himself from benchwarmer to heartwarmer. Next came Rafael van der Vaart, the self proclaimed man that nobody wanted. Although he professed his happiness to be ‘daan the lane’, the lack of overtures from Anfield or Old Trafford probably led him to walk down that particular path. No matter, VDV soon set about becoming the stand out signing of the Summer, and Tottenham were still in dreamland.

Despite the money spent by Manchester City, on January 1st 2011 Spurs found themselves ahead of Chelsea in the League, with the FA Cup to come, and what had been initially considered as a ‘good experience’ of playing in the Champions League had become the stuff of Lilywhite folklore.

The first of January. The start of the window. This became evident as a crossroads for Spurs. With a side on the up and young players developing into world-class talent, it presented itself as the ideal opportunity to push on. If Harry Redknapp could be backed, and backed big, and the club could introduce a couple of genuinely international class players, then Tottenham could really drive for a Champions League finish, and take on AC Milan with the thought that the possible could be probable.

The ideal opportunity arrived with the ideal opportunist. Whilst it is clearly a footballing faux-pas to accuse ‘Arry of being a wheeler-dealer (getting told to f*ck off and all that), we all know the truth. He is a little bit whur, little bit whey, and a reputation for savvy signings that was cemented at Portsmouth had continued at Tottenham (I am ignoring Pompey’s subsequent financial meltdown).

And then it all went, to quote an ‘Arry Redknapp type phrase, arse over tit.

First came the Beckham saga. Whilst it provided more column inches than Spurs have ever previously received this, as I stated at the time, merely showed the club has falling under the spell of Brand Beckham. Serious time was wasted in the rollercoaster of the David Beckham media circus, and nothing was gained. Aaron Lennon’s crossing has not got appreciably better through training with Beckham at club level any more than it did training with him for England. Whilst focus should have been on improvements, Redknapp was instead claiming “it’s fantastic to have the boy here, he’s a traffic boy, strike a light”, or words to that effect.

And so to deadline day. Surely Levy or Redknapp would pull a rabbit out the hat? Surely the club would realise that with Chelsea looking likely to sign Torres and Luiz, and with Man City looking to partner Dzeko and Tevez, a fillip was needed for the fans? No. Not one bit of it. Instead we had Harry offering his opinions on various talents, head hanging out a car window like a teenage father at a McDonalds Drive Thru:

“Giuseppi Rossi…good player. Diego Forlan…great lad. Jason Lee… super boy. Quarter Pounder … triffic triffic”

When Spurs eventually did make moves, it was a £500,000 bid for Phil Neville (laughed off by Everton and described as “insulting”), and a bid so late for Charlie Adam that any administrative necessities were unable to be completed. AC Milan were never exactly uncomfortable in any region of their Armani boxers. In addition to this, they allowed Giovani dos Santos and Robbie Keane out the door.

What Tottenham did need was a striker. The figures are alarming. Pavylyuchenko has five in the league. Crouch has one. Defoe has none. Together, Branislav Ivanovic and Robert Huth have scored more league goals than the three Spurs strikers combined. This level of underperformance will not gain Champions League qualification. Van der Vaart and Bale can simply not be depended on to continue as they have been. It is simply not fair on them.

What Tottenham did need is a defender. Forgive me if you will for presenting this as a list:

Sebastien Bassong – Understudy. Untrusted and looked inadequate against Fulham
William Gallas – Seen as understudy
Ledley King – Another operation, career dwindling through consistent pain
Jonathan Woodgate – Played three games since June 2008
Younes Kaboul – Injured until mid-March
Alan Hutton – Unreliable to the point that Phil Neville was a serious target

So why didn’t Spurs gamble? Part of the reason may have been that for the eleven failing Spurs players mentioned in this article, plus Corluka, Bentley and Sandro, a total of £117million has been spent (not all by Harry). Redknapp himself has spent £36million on three of his underperforming strikers. Did Daniel Levy not feel that he could afford another significant throw of the transfer deadline dice?

Or have the club choked at the big moment? We all may have spat out tea out when Liverpool shelled out £57million and Chelsea upwards of £70million. But these are Spurs’ aims now. This is the level they had reached. So there should have been no tea-spitting at the Lane. So when a £32million bid for Giuseppi Rossi was rejected, Spurs had to go higher. But they did not.

So where do Spurs go from here? Well, downwards? Over the last few months the talk has been of Spurs winning the Premier League. But even if they win their game in hand, they will have fewer points than at the same stage last season, and they are out of the FA Cup. The likelihood is that they will not win the Champions League, and therefore will be settling for Europa League football next season. Ask Van der Vaart and Bale for a penny for their thoughts then.

I am not intending to be overly negative on Spurs’ prospects. It just frustrates that they could have made a real statement in this window.

Harry Redknapp will have no problem telling you that when he took over, the club had two points from eight games. Complacency had been born out of consistency. Spurs’ supporters had had to put up with their team finishing outside of the top six and the bottom six of the Premier League for thirteen years in a row. It was monotony

Harry Redknapp was the man to change that. Supporters had seen the light at the end of the tunnel. It would be a crying shame if that light was extinguished through a lack of ambition, and the supporters will feel let down. Especially if they are watching their football in Stratford.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Wyatt/569007899 Nathan Wyatt

    Lack of ambition ? … your an idiot … we bid for some of the worlds best strikers… if there clubs wont accept the money . what do we do ??..go n buy carlton cole or zamora??…thats a lack of ambition… whats up couldnt fill this space.. so u thought you would fill it will complete innacuracies..

  • Kakistos77

    I love how most people praise Ferguson and Wenger for not wasting money on overpriced players in the transfer window, but think Harry made a big mistake not throwing away money on a big signing. If he’d have signed Rossi for 30 million, they would be writing articles about how crazy Spurs were to spend so much. Maybe this site should just stick to the Top Tens and funny videos.

  • http://twitter.com/burning_phoneix Mohamed Al Saadoon

    Spurs just can’t be expected to throw around more than 30 million quid on a striker. The massively inflated prices this winter just aren’t sustainable.

  • Ioanx

    I fully agree with the article. Only a stupid, mediocre and without ambitions and football knowledge supporter would disagree. Big clubs have reached such a status following some world wide based principals like good organization, sufficient funding, big stadiums, international image. The term good organization includes among others: an adequate and efficient scouting system which includes one or more suitable members of the stuff who are responsible to find world wide the proper players to add to the squad according to the needs identified by the trainer. They do the search and make in time their proposals to the trainer and to the president in order to allow them to draw their plans for the best, from the financial point of view, and timely approach of the target. Last 3 years Spurs have spent £ 48,5 m to buy 5 strikers and have reached a point this season these 5 strikers (Keane, Pav, Crouch, Defoe and JDS) to have scored 6 goals in 23 premiership games. If this isn’t a failure then what.

  • Kakistos77

    “Big clubs have reached such a status following some world wide based principals like good organization, sufficient funding, big stadiums, international image. ”

    So basically they just need to get wealthier, have a larger stadium and become internationally more popular over night to satisfy your ambitions. You’re obviously a genius. I wonder why the club hasn’t hired you yet? I agree that the striker situation could be better, but Spurs have managed to do reasonably well with what they have and dealing with injuries. They also don’t have 100’s of million dollars in debt like the “Big Clubs”. I would argue that a bid that would almost double Spurs’ transfer record is a sign of ambition in itself.

  • Tomhue1

    Woah, where did all this come from?

    I know a lot of Spurs fans and none of them are frustrated. Look; Champions League football for the first time in 50 years or whatever it is, 2 consecutive seasons consistently challenging for the top 4, including this season; it’s not all doom and gloom down White Hart Lane.

    Spurs need a reliable centre back, I totally agree. You can’t rely on Ledley any more and haven’t been able to rely on Woody for a couple of years, Kaboul is still prone to errors, leaving only Dawson and Gallas, and Bassong, who’s rubbish. The Dawson had a mare at the weekend and has had a massive injury this year and Gallas has been injured as well.

    Spurs have made great strides; don’t forget, they are the first team to break into the top 4 since Everton back in 2005. Man City haven’t even done that yet, although granted they should this year.

    There is literally no point buying in the January sales unless you’re desperate. Liverpool were, because they lost Torres, and Chelsea were because their squad is beginning to look a bit old and fatigued, but Spurs are in the ascendancy this season, the Champions League run has probably exceeded expectations and their league placing, considering their injuries this season (Gomes, Woodgate, Gallas, Dawson, King, Bale, Huddlestone, Lennon & Defoe have all been out this season) is not bad either.

    They’ve still got a decent shot at top 4, it’s tough this season, but we said that last year. It’s not meant to be easy, otherwise Chelsea wouldn’t have spent 70mm on Monday.

    Of all the teams we could say are in “crisis” or in decline (Everton, Villa, Liverpool perhaps, although not so much now), Spurs are definitely not one of them!

  • Ioanx

    Kakistos: I wish they could hire me. I guarantee success over two years without increasing the current budget. All I’d do was to find the right players world wide at a stage before they become super stars and cost a lot of money. If you want to know the recipe it’s the following: you buy ONLY players who fulfil all, if possible, or three at least of the following qualities:
    1)intelligence (most important human quality), strong personality/winner’s mentality (necessary because football is a competitive sport),
    2)physical strength (necessary because football is a physical demanding sport which also includes personal duels and tackles),
    3)high level of technique and
    4)speed (one of most important factors of today’s football (see Barcelona and other top teams).
    Now all you need is to be able to identify all these qualities in an early stage. Be sure that I can do it. Yia sou.

  • Tomhue1

    Er, I don’t think Torres to Chelsea relied too much on good scouting, just an owner who loved the player and signed him up.

  • http://stuart-otterson.livejournal.com/ Stuart Otterson

    Ok this is all well and good questioning their ambition, but say in an alternate universe they did spend big but still don’t make it to the Champion’s League spot? And if Spur’s next season in this alternative universe is then dominated by news of financial constrictions because they’ve already gambled big? Then what would you be writing? Over ambition doesn’t pay off?