The powers that be at WHL have finally grasped the principle that this season is our best chance in recent memory of actually contending. It’s an idea that we as fans have been praying for the decision makers to back for the last few seasons.
Established pace-setters Chelsea, City and United will all be experiencing relatively drastic managerial overhauls with uncertain futures on the horizon meaning Spurs have a legitimate opportunity to turn some heads, upset the apple cart and start looking upwards into the top three or higher.
For this idea to turn from a lofty aspiration into a beautiful reality we all knew that money needs to be invested into the squad. We’ve been “one or two key signings away from challenging” since the days of Martin Jol but thanks largely to the shrewd (although often frustrating) dealings of our chairman, we appear to have a first team that has proven itself to be able to beat any side in the premier league when firing on all cylinders. The only problem now is bringing in the players that allow us to hit those heights regularly.
All reports at the beginning of the summer seemed to indicate that the club had around £50 million to spend on new faces to help us push on up the table. With Brazilian lynchpin Paulinho having left Corinthians for around the £17 million mark, it would seem we have roughly £33 million or so left in the coffers as the story about those two Croatian wonderkids has gone awfully quiet.
The big decisions facing Baldini, Levy and AVB are in regards to where this money should go. It’s been the consensus for the past couple of seasons that a top quality striker should be the number one priority, with Roberto Soldado and Christian Benteke being most fans’ favoured choices, particularly with the news of Benteke handing in a transfer request yesterday.
However it’s more than likely that signing either one of these two would use up the vast majority of our transfer fund, leaving less than £10 million to spend in areas of need. This creates a problem if you feel that in order to compete there are holes in our squad that need to be filled beyond our lagging forward line.
For example, on our flanks. Aaron Lennon had his most impressive campaign in years for us on the right wing last season. Not only was his running incisive but his defensive awareness was superb, often breaking up attacks with interceptions or by picking the pockets of dallying full-backs. With him in the side we had a balanced natural width and the team looked so dangerous on the front foot. Without him (which was far more often than desirable due to injury) we were one dimensional and predictable, and worst of all it allowed opponents to double up on Gareth Bale, limiting his impact on the game massively.
Last season we only had two natural wingers with Bale and Lennon and with the former’s position changing almost weekly and the latter’s significant time spent on the treatment table, players like Holtby, Dempsey and Sigurdsson were asked to play out of position, with differing results.
Should our board invest in some depth out wide? Players like Tom Ince and Jese could be available for around the £10 million mark.
Or does the depth we have in our youth cover us when injuries strike? I’d argue that whilst we could probably use one more wide-man, there’s no need to drop the best part of £10 million on unproven players when Andros Townsend was so impressive at QPR last season and young Alex Pritchard probably deserves a first team nod as he’s been banging them in for fun in the Next-Gen Series and the U21 Premier League.
If we were looking to spend £10 million to improve any part of the squad I would say spend it at left back. I was a huge BAE prior to last year, arguing he was one of the most under rated players in the EPL. But last season he was dire. I’m also not sold on either Kyle Naughton or Danny Rose; I’m yet to be convinced that either is anything more than a mid-table journeyman type player. If players wouldn’t get into the Man United squad then why keep them in ours when there are plenty of other clubs out there that would reportedly offer upwards of £5 million for those types of players?
Sadly, I’ve read nothing at all of any movement on our behalf for any defender apart from Toby Alderweireld, a player I’ve seen linked to literally every top flight club. One player I would like to see our decision makers take an interest in would be young Sam Byram at Leeds, the player who successfully marked Bale out of the game in the cup last season.
Strong arguments can be made for both sentiments; on one hand there’s the option of stabilising our first team with depth and competition for places and on the other is splurging all the cash on an elite striker. Honestly, I’m leaning towards the striker option, it’s what the majority of us want to see and have been clamouring for for as long as I can remember and it would send a real statement that we mean business. The last thing any of us want to see is another top quality striker being strongly linked our way, only to frustratingly sign for another team a la David Villa.
Feel free to tell me if I’m right or wrong, these are only my opinions and your opinion is worth just as much as mine! Thanks for reading, COYS!!
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