Will Spurs pay for their lack of ambition?
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.