On the Defensive


Vedran Corluka

Just recently I like many other Spurs’ fans have been thinking about our squad from a defensive perspective, in particular where we are now, where we might be when there are no injuries (unlikely I know with Ledders and Woody around) and most importantly what we need to do for the next season)

Right full back is an area where we seem well covered or are we?

Alan Hutton signed in a blaze of glory, in preference to Manchester United no less, from Rangers three years ago for £9m and I think it is fair to say he has not lived up to expectation, his distribution is poor and his defensive positioning obviously does not rely on the latest GPS technology. With his recent bust up with Sir Harold after the Fulham game, where any flack he got was well deserved, his days at the Lane seem to be numbered.

Charlie (Verdran Corlucka) should be in his prime at 26, however sometimes on the pitch he appears to be closer to 36. He cost us similar money to Hutton when we signed him from Manchester City at the start of the 2008 season and despite his lack of pace he is currently first choice. Defensively he is good and does link up well with Aaron Lennon on the wing and he can play in the centre in an emergency situation

Finally, we have Kyle and Kyle both signed from Sheffield United in the Summer of 2009. Naughton is 22 and Walker 20 and appear to be the future. Both are England U21 Internationals, both are on loan. Naughton in the Championship and Walker with Aston Villa. Naughton has not impressed, he was positively awful against the Goons in the Carling Cup and it could be that the Championship is his level. On the other hand I have been extremely impressed with Walker, admittedly from watching on television, and he should be re-called next season as understudy to Charlie. If Lennon does not start for whatever reason then we should consider Walker starting as Charlie can get exposed by raw pace and Walkers wing play will be more effective as well. I could see him and Lennon getting in each others way.

In short with back up provided by Gallas and Kaboul also in the right back position I would sell Hutton and Naughton.

Left Full Back is definitely an area where we are not well covered and we have to strengthen

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (BAE to his friends) came to us from his native France, actually nearly 5 years ago as a 20 year old unknown. He is a rare commodity a left back with a left foot. I have to admit that until this season I didn’t rate him but I feel now he has come of age and is now almost indispensible, not least because there is currently no one else. A big factor I believe in the huge effort Sir Harold made to sign Phil Neville recently

Gareth Bale is still not strong enough in defence to play in left back and loses 60% of his game when he does; West Ham away was a good case in point

A long shot as back up could be Jamie O’Hara, left footed and combative he may be able to interact with Gareth Bale or be an emergency back up to BAE

In short we have to buy someone; there was some links recently with Gael Clichy if we could get him we should even if he is a Gooner

Centre Backs are abundant in our squad lets look at the options.

The starting point is last year’s player of the season and our very own Captain Courageous Michael Dawson. 27 years old and in his prime he epitomises everything you need from a no nonsense defender .We all know he would die for the team. He is the main man and must play when fit (The same should be said for England as well now). So who plays with him??

This is the 64000 dollar question.

At the moment the main man is William Gallas who still has pace, which is needed to compliment Daws. His performances have been superb for us especially in Europe but he is approaching 34 and has not even signed for nest season

Then we have our two class acts, but they are crocks as well. The phenomenon that is Ledley King is 30 and will always be a hero to me but he now probably needs to retire to prevent further damage to his Spur’s committed body. Jon Woodgate is a similar age to Ledley and on his day is as smooth in defence as a pint of Boddingtons, but like Ledders is also fragile. If we keep both players as back up then, pay as they play may be an option

So who is number one to play with Daws? The answer is Younes Kaboul. The 25 year old Frenchman is in his second stint with us , and he will become the complete defender. He is imposing, has blistering pace and is excellent on the ball. In short the perfect partner for Daws, with a pile driver free kick and a definite eye for goal in the opponents box as well

Sir Harold bought South African , Bongani Khumalo in January, is he any good? I have never seen him play, but I think the answer must be that he is not cutting the mustard and Harry does not fancy him. I don’t expect to see him at the Lane next season. The same comment I also apply to Seb Bassong ( unless both Woody and Ledders retire), he has fallen quite rightly down the pecking order, he has pace to burn but still makes me nervous , all my worries coming to roost at Blackpool the other week giving away an absolutely needless penalty

In the central area we should mention young Steven Caulker, just turned 19 he was impressive against the Goons and I have friends at Bristol City who think he is the new Rio; he must be back in the fold for next season

In conclusion Charlie is still best option at Right back , Daws and Kaboul first choice in the centre and we must buy a left back as cover for BAE. Then again you might think different!

By Simon Cruddace

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  1. I understand that Galas was signed on the basis of 30 appearances and he gets a new contract for next season. I don't know if he has met his quota yet, but in my book, he has earned an extension.

    Anyone remember how we were appalled that he would be joining us, and then shocked that HR might make him skipper? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

  2. I have to disagree with you re: center backs. This is an area where, in my opinion, we are desperately short on. Almost moreso than any other position on the team.

    True, we have a lot of people with “CB” next to their name on the teamsheet, but how many of them could realistically suit up for the very next match? As of today, Dawson and Kaboul. And knowing how cursed we are with training ground injuries, I’m sure that will be down to just one within a few days.

    King will never play again. And if he does, he will never play more than 1 game a month for us ever again. Love the guy, but we cannot keep using a roster spot and salary space on the guy. As much as it pains me, Woodgate is in the exact same boat. We need to get rid of them both asap. Gallas has done well, but now he’s injured.

    We are nearing a defensive emergency the likes of which have not been seen since the very same problems forced Huddlestone to center back last season.

    Perhaps if we didn’t rely on center backs that weren’t half dead, we wouldn’t let in 3 goals a game. That used to be okay, but now that our strikers have stopped scoring (by and large), it’s potentially going to cost us a Champions League spot.

  3. Our main problem is not scoring enough goals. Our goals against in the table compares ok with other clubs around us-only 10 conceded at home. But our goals for is way less than the other clubs around us. I don’t think we’ve won a league game by 3 goals this season-compare that to last season!

  4. I disagree with regards the let-back position. Whilst we could probably do with cover, Kyle Naughton can play there and often did when he was at Sheffield United. Both the Kyle's played together, and both have experience on the left. Having said that, I'm not sure Naughton is up to it. In my opinion Bale's future is in the left-back position. I know people go o about his pace on the wing etc., but what he has is an unbelievable engine. His burst of pace is good, but his sprinting over distance is even better. He can cause havoc running from deep, picking up pace and power as a result. It's a Bale running full speed at you that frightens defenders, more so then being turned by a burst of pace. Lennon has bursts, Bale has sprinting.


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