The debate about Danny Rose having a future at Spurs is an old one. It divides opinion greatly, but I personally fall into the category of people who want to show faith in Danny Rose, and believe he has what it takes to be a very good player for us over not just the coming season, but many seasons after that as well.
The spine of Tottenham’s defence is in, I believe, a strong condition. Spurs have three solid centre-backs in Vertonghen, Kaboul and Dawson, as well as Steven Caulker, who has the potential to join these players as a top class defender. Although Kyle Walker still has a lot to learn, there is no doubting that he has great talent, and there is no reason why he cannot recapture his scintillating form in the 2011/12 season and become a long-term fixture in Tottenham’s defence. The only area of Spurs’ back line where decisions need to be made is left full-back. It has become a problem position for Tottenham over the past season as the usually reliable Benoit Assou-Ekotto has looked out of sorts recently, suffering from a change of midfield shape under AVB, looking a shadow of the skilful, confident attacking full-back he once was. Whilst Jan Vertonghen has impressed in place of Assou-Ekotto, he is certainly more comftable in a more commanding central position where his vision and forward passing can be best utilised most effectively. Kyle Naughton, another one of Assou-Ekotto’s deputees this season, on the other hand is more comftable on the right hand side of a back four, and few seem to believe that Naughton has the ability to command a starting place in a team with the ambitions that Tottenham have. It is fair to say that a decision needs to be made by Andre Villas-Boas and Franco Baldini this Summer about this position, and whether the club show faith in Assou-Ekotto and hope he can re-assert himself as one of the best full-backs in the Premier League once again, or decide to sign a fresh face, I believe we may already have the perfect solution to this problem already on our books.
Danny Rose’s Tottenham career hasn’t taken off like many expected it would have done after he scored ‘that goal’ against Arsenal in 2010. Rose’s progress was limited by injuries after his memorable Premier League debut. Many were left to wonder, after an unsuccessful loan spell at Bristol City was cut-short, whether his goal against Arsenal had actually done the player more harm than good. A disgraceful tackle at the end of the 2011/12 season against Aston Villa threw Rose’s Tottenham future into more doubt, as he was given a straight red-card and received widespread criticism for the challenge. However, Rose has shown great character in re-inventing himself this season as he found himself being sent out to the Stadium of Light to prove himself to AVB. A string of fantastic performances across the season saw Danny voted as Sunderland’s Player Of The Season, and finding himself as England U21 boss Stuart Pearce’s first-choice left-back at the Under-21 European Championships in the post-season. He has certainly got the attention of the Spurs faithful, and many, including myself, believe Danny has what it takes to become just the sort of attacking full-back Tottenham have been crying out for on the left-hand side.
Rose started his career as a left winger, and certainly loves to get forward and bomb down his flank, and ended the season with an impressive Dribble Success rate of 47%. It is worth noting that Spurs often opted for right-footed players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson or Clint Dempsey on the left-hand side of midfield this season, who both have a tendency to cut inside and look to get in shooting positions, often leaving large amounts of space to run into beside them on the left. Assou-Ekotto and Naughton showed everyone time and time again last season how they neither have the pace, nor the natural attacking instinct to make the most of this created space, and I believe an unprecedented amount of width and variety to our attacks has been lost at times this season. Assou-Ekotto showed his best performances when played behind Gareth Bale, who at the time was a left-footed, ‘out-and-out’ winger. Sadly, I don’t believe Benoit has adapted to his new style of wing partner very well, and a player like Danny Rose could be used more effectively than Assou-Ekotto in this role. Should the selection style of playing a right-footed attacking midfielder on the left-hand side of midfield continue from Villas-Boas with the potential signing of Nacer Chadli, an attacking full-back with pace and a natural ability to get to the bi-line and deliver balls into the area such as Danny Rose, could be perfect in adding an extra dimension to our attacking play.
Villas-Boas’ use of attacking full-backs during the most successful period of his career at Porto, as well as his persistence of playing Kyle Walker for Spurs may also give 23-year-old Rose some hope. Villas-Boas showed great faith in Alvaro Pereira and Christian Sapunaru during his time at Porto, and got the very best out of the players, who are both in the same mould as Rose and Walker. Alvaro Pereira performed so well under AVB that he earned himself an £8m move to Italian giants Inter Milan, who at the time were still somewhat of a powerhouse in European football. Sadly, Pereira has flattered to deceive thus far at Inter, and is considered as being a ‘flop’ by the Italian media. Did Villas-Boas cause Pereira to perform ‘out of his skin’? Was Villas-Boas the sole reason as to why he performed brilliantly in Portugal? Nobody knows the answers to these questions, but I certainly believe that this drop in form from Pereira could suggest Andre’s style of management in particular gets the best out of young attacking full-backs like Pereira and Rose, and that type of player is well-suited to his favoured 4-3-3 system, which many expect Spurs to utilise next season.
One only has to look at Kyle Walker for an example of an attacking full-back who is much better going forward than at defending. Walker has been caught out of position many times this season, and has made some costly errors at times. Yet, Villas-Boas persisted in selecting Walker, something which I feel could breathe a sense of optimism and hope into Rose, and hopefully give him the belief in himself that he can become a regular starter for Tottenham. Villas-Boas did sometimes choose the more defensive Kyle Naughton in Walker’s place, but on the whole saw Walker as his first choice. Attacking full-backs is one thing which I believe Villas-Boas favours strongly, and we can deduce this from his constant selection of Kyle Walker and his history with Porto. I feel the selection of Danny Rose next season as Tottenham’s favoured left-back could be more likely than some seem to realise.
Going back to the defensive side of Rose’s game, I do believe he is a good enough defender to start for us, and I believe it is simply lazy to brand Rose as ‘not a good enough defender’, especially when these same people call for us to sign Luke Shaw from Southampton, a player who is by no means as accomplished as Rose defensively at this moment in time. Although Rose didn’t manage to keep many clean sheets in a Sunderland side who struggled for form all season, on a personal level, he defended extremely well. Rose ended the season winning an astonishing 86% of his attempted tackles, which is extremely high, especially when you compare this to Ashley Cole, who many believe to be the best left-back in the Premier League, who only managed to win 72.3% of his attempted tackles. Danny Rose also made an interception every 29.2 minutes (around 3 a game) and a successful challenge every 9.77 minutes (about 8 a game). Although, as any football fan knows, statistics don’t count for everything, these statistics are far superior those of Luke Shaw’s, and certainly show that Danny Rose is not a terrible defender, and does like get involved defensively. Whether he is a good enough defender to last at Spurs remains to be seen, but based on his performances for Sunderland last season, I have every faith in him to perform and become a key figure in Tottenham’s defence next season.
In May Villas-Boas said of Rose: “He has had a great season in Sunderland. We are aware of it. He’s a player we have to consider.” Reading into comments like this from any manager too much is never advisable, but they suggest young Rose could have future at the club. Whilst names like Luke Shaw, Leighton Baines, Fabio Coentrao and more recently Daniel Opare will continue to be linked with summer moves to White Hart Lane, I believe if Spurs did show faith in Rose, he certainly would not disappoint. Signing another full-back or showing faith in Assou-Ekotto wouldn’t necessarily be a bad decision from the club, nor one I would be unhappy with, but as I said earlier, I do feel we have the solution to our cloudy full-back problem already on our books.
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