Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches – A Vital Partnership

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

All Tottenham Hotspur fans know the club’s primary objective is the UEFA Champions League. As things are, it is the most reasonable target and holds the key for future success. However, a brief association with the competition is not enough to maximise the profits or ensure football of the highest quality. With this in mind, it is essential that Spurs prepare for a prolonged period of European football and, to do so, they must ensure the team has a solid backbone. This is where Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches come in.

For decades the greatest of football sides have relied on great defensive partnerships. In the 1990’s, AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi brought the club back-to-back silverware and became universal symbols of the club’s success. In more modern times, Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol have created an excellent bond that’s seen them conquer Europe and even the World together. While many Spurs fans may doubt the quality of their own defense when compared to these players, none of them started playing football with their names already etched on trophies.

The very best example for Spurs right now is Borussia Dortmund. The Germans were a former glory: a team that had once taken to the European stage and won. However, in 2009, Dortmund began playing with the centre-back partnership of Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels. Since then, the club have won the Bundesliga and come within a whisker of winning the Champions League were it not for their rivals Bayern Munich. Dortmund have become something of a blueprint for success: build the team on a strong defense and slowly add quality in the attacking third. Spurs have been adhering to this philosophy but it remains to be seen the extent to which their defense will be modelled on Dortmund’s, or whether there is even potential for a future partnership.

As far as defenders go, both Vertonghen and Chiriches are among the more talented. Both are mature enough to know their own limits and should by now have worked any defensive kinks out of their game. Vertonghen is a product of the Ajax academy and is therefore used to winning. He has been known to bomb forward and join in the attack, which should be encouraged so long as the team provide adequate cover. He’s shown early signs of being a real leader, having succeeded Martin Stekelenburg as captain at Ajax, and he’s also proven to be good enough in the Premier League. Any football fan could tell you that Jan deserves European football.

Less is known about Chiriches. He’s the younger of the two and is also two inches shorter but by no means less adventurous. Confident in possession and happy to lend a hand in attack, the Romanian has been one of Spurs’ best signings of the season and continues to improve week in, week out. He’s been on the winning side in eight of his eleven Premier League matches and like his Belgium counterpart has already scored his first goal for the club. His adjustment to English football from the Romanian league has been staggering and he still has a long career ahead of him.

The only thing that presents a threat to both Spurs, and for that matter Dortmund, is whether the centre-back partnership is broken. Mats Hummels has long been on the radar of football’s elite and while the Germans still have a chance of repeating their European adventure, they stand much less of a chance with a makeshift back line. Injuries are obviously a problem and not one that can be predicted, but in times of crisis the team must rely on their back-ups, as is the case with all great teams.

Tottenham will need to get to a point where their defensive duo becomes untouchable. It’s been a problem for Spurs to hold onto their best players, let alone those guarding the goal, so it will be a tall order. Vertonghen showed a willingness to reject other interested buyers to join Spurs so it could mean he’s onboard for the foreseeable future, but would his answer be the same if Real Madrid or Barcelona came knocking? The longevity of the club’s fortunes rest on keeping their defense together for a prolonged period of time.

If all comes to fruition, then we may find ourselves looking back on what was a glorious period in Tottenham’s history. In the world of football, strikers and attackers can be easily replaced, but a genuinely impregnable defensive partnership can be the rarest commodity in the game.

Have something to tell us about this article?


  1. I love Dawson but the fact remains Vertongen & Chriches is the best centre back pairing, for me as said in previous writing I would go one step further and put Kaboul in there and go 3,5,2 the reason i think we can do that is simply Kyle Walker & Arron Lennon
    full backs have been a big issue for us so eliminate the problem allowing walker forward and using Lennon to get back which he does so well, our squad leans towards that system because we have an overload of good if not great midfielders so use them
    also giving us the much needed 2 at the top, I believe Soldado will come good and be great but in order to acheive that he must play and know that he is wanted

  2. Vlad Chiriches is nowhere near top 4 standard. He is very poor in the air, he gets beaten every game by a ball simply passed by him on his left which he rarely reacts to let alone anticipates, he forgets his job at corners and simply goes ball chasing thereby screwing up the whole defence, he can not read a game and is therefore frequently out of position allowing far to many balls to simply be played in behind him. He frequently gives the ball to the opposition in our half, he surges forward loses the ball and puts immediate pressure on our defence with him wat out of position. Dawson has to cover for him all the time which affects his usually solid partnership with Walker. Chiriches is the problem in the defence, he causes most of the errors and makes others look bad for simply trying to cover for him. He is not even a mid table standard centre half. He tries to be clever one on one and gets caught adn then has to foul his opponent. He is very lucky and has Michael Dawson to thank for not being sent off this season.

    You clearly are one of these fans blinded by a bit of skill and can't see the multitude of mistakes he makes. Tim Sherwood did the right thing in dropping him as soon as another centre-half became available.

      • Dead right. He has got progressively worse, if that is possible, and is now targetted in every game by the opposition as the weak link. Man City love him !! In 3 games that he has played against them, we have shipped 16 goals. As a captain, he is poor. Previous captains here have led by example, Perryman. Mackay, Mullery, Mabbutt, Roberts. I'm afraid, albeit a nice bloke, he is like a bloody mouse compaired to them. He will look competent against the lower, kick, b—–k and bite brigade but totally inept against the quality teams, most of whom are now above us. Has to be dropped.

  3. You have got to be in jokeLand right?

    CHIRICHES? he is a bloody liability. I’ve never known a defender to be as dangerous on the ball as him. Takes WAY too long to get rid of (pass) the ball. He is ALWAYS caught in possession. He is slower than Dawson at running back, slow at turning, and doesn’t understand offside.

    CLEARLY, Kaboul and Vert is the central partnership we need to sustain. Both are faster than Dawson and Chirches, Both are better defenders than Dawson and Chiriches, both are better headers of the ball than Dawson and Chiriches, both are more stable in possession of the ball thank Dawson or Chirches, both have higher success at completed passes than Dawson or Chirches.


    • I understand your view its because he is a footballing centre half and also adapting to the premier league
      so why has he had 3 Man of the Match awards this season in the prem ??
      Chriches is a good player who takes chances and will be a big success in the prem

  4. Hi – Nice idea, but they are both "ball playing" centre halves. Neither is dominant in the air so they would need to partner with Kaboul or Daws

  5. There is a way for Spurs to have a more solid back line. It would mean putting Walker & Rose into some defender training for a few months, until then Chiriches could play Right back because he can get forward and defend as shown in his previous performances. Jan Vertonghen should partner Kaboul in central defence. Finally bring Essou Ekotto back from Qpr. He was more reliable than Rose at Left back, ok he made a few mistakes now and then but Rose does it every game. Chiriches Vertonghen Kaboul Ekotto, now that’s a solid, cool, calm defence.

  6. I love Dawson but the fact remains he was on the transfer list and who come in for him QPR in the championship, if as some suggest a top player then top clubs come in for him

  7. Fundamental mistake at the beginning of the article; the formidable AC Milan partnership was between Baresi and Costacurta. Maldini was almost always the left-back and was hailed as one of the best full-backs of all time. Even towards the latter part of his career as he lost some of his pace, he only occasionally covered the CB position. better research would give your article more credibility…

  8. Vlad is still adjusting to the prem, by all accounts he was a class above in the Romanian league so its an adjustment. He's also playing on the left hand side, to accommodate Dawson when he's right footed so not in his natural position.

    Jan could really take him under his wing. I see very natural timing with Vlad and a nose for the ball.

    Anything which expedites Dawson out of the team must be top priority. He's a good bloke but a Stoke type of defender.

    Like Andy C said, when available for transfer none of our competitors came running which somes it up.

  9. What is it with people defending Dawson? even supporters of other clubs "not our rivals either" cannot understand how he gets a game, he is slow, gets beaten in the air regular and his positioning is shocking. if you need further proof look at the goals shipped against Man City home and away he was at the least embarrassing, bring the young guy Chiriches or Kaboul in along side Vertonghen and make him captain. I honestly cannot remember a worst defender in Spurs history than Dawson ? possible Willie Young.aside.


  11. Dawson is the problem I played at a pretty good standard as a centre back and he is very average. He is one of those players who gives 100% so fans and commentators love him but in reality he has to give outwardly everything because he lacks ability. He is much like Carrog her and Terry although they are better in nearly every aspect. Kaboul did very well when he first came back to spurs but his last performance against Man City was absolutely shocking and he looked like he needs games. Vertognen is a Rolls Royce of a player and should be the Captain he could well become our Rio Ferdinand a centre back who leads and makes defending look so easy. Unfortunately Ledders is not around for this Spurs team as he was the best I have seen (not allowed to mention Sol). I honestly think with more experience Churches could become the answer in today's football. He is mobile very good on the ball and showed at Old Trafford and other games this year already that you don't need to be a giant CB to be quality. Does he make mistakes yes! At the moment the team aren't flowing so everyone is making mistakes but this guy has something about him. Dawson should remain at the club but as a back up now. Apart from a first rate work ethic he hasn't got anything to offer.
    Just a quick word can our supporters start supporting the club. We lost the best player in the league last summer and we are still in the same position in the league. Only Paulinho and Chirches out of the new players have settle in at all (both can and will get better) once everyone is back fit and get use to the league we will only go upwards with this squad. Only 10 years ago I use to look at how close we were to relegation. Now we are the 5th best team in the country and we actually challenge the top 4. We are a top manager away from being a top side. Patience!!!!

    • pretty good arguments, BUT are we really a top manager away from being a top side. i think sherwood needs to be given a chance. he has coped pretty well with the injuries of some very important players. even though his decision to play bentaleb and not capoue is very risky, it was surely based on something and not without reason.

      i think sherwood has to improve most on his tactical changes during a game. he has done some crazy substitutions and most of them have not payed off. Making no substitution (against Hull) is still not the way to solve this.

      sherwood needs to be given total support until the end of the season. if he can get us into champs league than he should stay, but if not than i would like to see Michael Laudrup take over. just nice tactics, well organized and good football played by swansea and even Real Madrid have been interested in him!!!

  12. Agree. I'd play all 3 and ditch the full backs. Neither can defend or deliver anything like a quality cross when attacking !!!

  13. I believe the best partnership is Kaboul and Verts (who should be captain) Chiriches is a work in progress he dallies on the ball and loses his concentration. Put Sandro in from of Kaboul and Verts and you have the basis of a great team

  14. Vertonghen- Chiriches in the centre of defense is a very good proposition…

    The recent disaster with Man City was not Vlad's fault, but was triggered by the wrong penalty/Red Card against Rose…The middle was also weak , letting City players pour into the 16 m. box area…

    You may remember that Roman senator obsessed by the destruction of Carthage…I would replicate that by saying:

    "Everton should be destroyed!!!"


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.