Another couple of players fall under the spotlight in our short series on those in the squad for whom the coming season might be more important than normal.
It’s a big season for….. Lewis Holtby.
The German arrived in January as something of a saviour. We weren’t buying the goals we desperately needed but we were definitely buying talent. He’d left Schalke despite the fact that they were still in the Champions League and we were so keen to get him in that we ticked the express delivery box. This was no Ryan Nelsen or Louis Saha desperate measure.
His debut was as a sub on a cold night in Norwich where his energy and touch helped us get back into a game we were losing. Woo-hoo! Someone on the same wavelength as Bale! Did we have a man who might take some of the heat off the Welsh wonder? Erm, no. There was the occasional useful cameo but in general Holtby’s appearances were mostly anonymous.
So did we buy a dud? No, we didn’t. There’s little doubt that he is a player of intelligence and awareness. There is also little doubt that we didn’t use him in the right way in the majority of his 17 games. We played him on the right and on the left and in the hole but we never gave him responsibility in the middle where he’s done best for Germany U21s and elsewhere.
So what’s he to do? As the AVB revolution takes hold he’ll have noted that no one’s been purchased who does what he does. It’s hard to tell, as he’s been injured, but maybe the manager doesn’t want a player who does what he does? Or even worse, he’s waiting for someone better than him in his position to become available!
In a World Cup year he doesn’t want to face another season of being played out of position or a campaign made up of the Europa League and 20 minute appearances off the bench? No thanks. So what’s he to do? Get fit and then convince AVB that he needs some subtlety to complement the power of Sandro, Dembélé and Paulinho. If he can’t do that, it might turn into be a long season for him.
It’s a big season for….. Andros Townsend.
One person probably not thrilled at the arrival of Nacer Chadli was Andros Townsend. With the Belgian favourite to start on the left side of the attack, especially if Bale goes, the youngster’s path to the first team at White Hart Lane, in his favoured position anyway, appears blocked. After a very successful loan spell at QPR where he constantly earned plaudits he would’ve dreamt of a promotion to the first team at Spurs, unfortunately that looks like it won’t happen just yet. It will happen some time though, he is too good a player for it not to.
I felt we missed him last year when the absence literally and figuratively respectively of Lennon and Bale from the wings meant we were very narrow in many games making us easy to defend against. Chadli helps address that problem on the left, but what about on the right where Lennon’s partnership with Walker can be relied upon… until the speedster gets his inevitable season defining injury some time in January. Predominantly left footed, Townsend can still do damage with his right as his goal on his debut against Charlton Athletic showed. Is acting as Lennon’s sub/replacement his best chance of making an impression perhaps?
Now he’s had a taste of the big time he’ll be hoping that this is his breakthrough campaign where realisation draws level with potential and promise. I hope his hopes are fulfilled and that AVB finds a way to fit him in and give him regular games. He’s a good and exciting young player that we don’t want to start thinking, a la Steven Caulker, that his best chance of progress might be away from WHL.
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