As with most Tottenham supporters, I was floored by our transfer dealings this past summer. Amidst all of the Gareth Bale drama that grabbed the headlines, Franco Baldini revealed himself to be a classy operator, bringing in a plethora of raw talent and a seemingly perfect combination of experience and youth. For every player that left, a bright new face seemed to appear, eager to prove himself amongst newfound competition. At the beginning of the season there was a tangible drive at the club, evidenced by players’ immense work rate and supporters’ unwavering expectation. For the first time in awhile, we were hungry.
Last year, I attributed our downfall to a lack of quality competition for places, and a lack of hunger. Ade was consistently given opportunities, as was Clint, to start Premier League matches even though neither came close to actualizing their potential. As the season wore on, it became increasingly clearer that the two were embodying a side grappling with stagnation. Rather than an improvement on positive past season’s performances, both players struggled with form and at times were allowed to walk into the starting eleven based solely on reputation, expectation, and a lack of other real options.
It’s this very struggle with reputation vs. reality and versatility that was evident with Clint and Ade so clearly throughout last season that brings me to the point of this essay: we desperately need Chicharito. Before I make my case for the adorable and angelic Mexican, I feel compelled to state clearly and emphatically that I believe whole-heartedly in Roberto Soldado. Franco Baldini and Daniel Levy did not break our transfer record on a dud and I am 100% confident that by the end of the season every single Soldado doubter will have abandoned their case. Soldado brings together an innate ability to finish with clever movement. His lack of goals now, however, is a small problem with an even smaller fix. Chicharito. Defoe’s start against West Ham is the exact proactive managerial style I’ve been calling for since last year: to play the hot hand and consistently force improved performances through competition. It’s through this managerial style that the best of Soldado can be coaxed week after week.
Unfortunately, as with the previous season, our options up front don’t command much respect. Defoe will never be good enough to lead the line for a side challenging for trophies, and that is why Javier Hernandez is a crucial buy. I challenge any Tottenham supporter to supply me with an example of a player who is hungrier for a chance than Chicharito. At 25 years old, he has consistently shown incredible movement, awareness, and arial presence. His finishing is spot on and his speed is lethal. I’ve never before seen a player who can be degraded and unfairly overlooked week after week, and yet still show perhaps the best work ethic of any striker in the Premier League when he is on the pitch.
My case for Chicharito is not that he should replace Soldado, but rather that he would allow a completion of this Tottenham team’s identity: versatility and competition, regardless of reputation. Chicharito would not only constantly push Soldado to the best of his ability, but also act as an injection of pace that this side can sometimes lack. His work ethic will inspire the best out of each of our forwards and lethargic, ineffective play will become increasingly less common. The versatility that Chicharito would bring is both priceless and crucial. For instance, a 4-4-2 could easily be adopted in games where the team clogs the center of the pitch, (West Ham’s 4-6-0 being a prime example) and that versatility up front could be a deciding factor in this season’s quest for glory. Having two or more capable and versatile forwards is a common theme amongst the top sides. Look at the past two Premiership Champions: Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko, Balotelli; Rooney, Van Persie,Welbeck, Chicharito. In order for the stagnation and lack of versatility that plagued our campaign last year to finally become a distant memory, we need to complete this side’s transformation. Clear the dead wood and bring in eager, hard working talents.
The Premier League is a long and strenuous journey and without versatility and competition, stagnation sets in. We are too close to the completion of a majestic side to stop now and be complacent. If Chicharito can show us anything, its that we must always stay hungry. I for one am absolutely famished, and I think a “little pea” could do a world of good.
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