Harry’s Christmas Wish List

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This evening, as I pushed my trolley around Sainsbury’s, its shelves already heaving with festive produce, I was surprised to be confronted with lengthy queues.  News reports have been claiming for months that this will be a Christmas of parsimony and yet the economic climate seems to have done little to quell the public appetite for spending.  While it may be business as usual for supermarkets, can the same be said for our football clubs?

Taking into account the ‘new days of austerity’ we are entering, this transfer window is likely to be typified by caution and, in spite of posting record pre-tax profits this financial year, Spurs are likely to be no exception. Among the other ‘t’rific’ gifts under his tree this Christmas, Harry will be unlikely to find a sizeable cheque from chairman Daniel Levy, in fact he will most likely have to sell before he can buy.  This, though, shouldn’t faze a legendary wheeler-dealer like old ‘arry.

Given the budgetary constraints, what will the manager be looking for if he is to strengthen his team to mount a genuine challenge on the hegemony of the Big Four?

On paper, at least, we have a reasonably well-balanced squad, with quality cover in most positions.  However, a handful of injuries have exposed areas where we are deficient.

The loss of Aaron Lennon and particularly Luka Modric have left us looking short on creativity and in the absence of Defoe we failed to score or pick up a solitary point (albeit against challenging opposition).  Therefore, a creative player will be high on the list of priorities.  While I am optimistic about Niko Krancjar’s impact, I’m not convinced he can orchestrate the team in the way a top playmaker can .  By the same token, Huddlestone possesses exquisite technique and vision, but lacks mobility.  I have been impressed by our youngsters such as John Bostock and Dean Parrett and even the want-away enigma and ‘next Zidane’ Adel Taarabt, but an experienced international may be of greater benefit to our cause in the short-term.  Man. City’s Martin Petrov and Vicente of Valencia and even Joe Cole have been touted as potential targets, to give genuine width on the left, but as Modric tends to operate best on that side of midfield, Harry would perhaps be reluctant to disrupt our style of play.

With regard to our defence, sure as night follows day, transfer rumour columns will be awash with reports linking Spurs to just about every English-born centre-back with a full complement of limbs (£20m for Gary Cahill anyone?!).  Irritating though this is, it is perhaps indicative of our obvious defensive frailties.  While shipping seventeen goals and keeping only two clean sheets in our opening dozen fixtures could be blamed on the disruption to our back-four caused by a succession of injuries, the issue runs deeper than that.

The tireless shifts put in by Wilson Palacios and the profligacy of our opponents has perhaps papered over the cracks of our defensive problems, but they exist nonetheless.  Our right-back position is far from assured.  Many fans are yet to be convinced by Corluka, less so by the alternatives.  Harry seems as yet unwilling to unleash Kyle Naughton, perhaps he is not ready, but I, for one, would like to see him given a run in the side.  Meanwhile, on the left, though much improved, Assou Ekotto has at times looked vulnerable against pacier, more physical opposition.

The most contentious of decisions facing Harry though, lies at the centre of our defence.

This is always an emotive issue, and by way of a caveat, I would like to state at this point that I adore Ledley King and will always defend him regardless.  He has been a great servant to our club and justifies his inclusion and peerless reputation in the eyes of most fans every time he pulls on the white shirt.  However, injuries have been increasing in frequency and age is beginning to erode his natural athleticism, he has undoubtedly lost a yard or two of his phenomenal pace.  When he plays, he is clearly our top defender and one of the best around, but for how long can he maintain this standard of performance?  Though it pains me to even consider it, should his condition worsen, Harry will have no option but to seek out a  long-term replacement.  Some see Bassong as his natural heir, but with Woodgate’s fragility, we are still only ever a couple of injuries away from a shaky central pairing of Dawson and Huddlestone.  Perhaps Mr Redknapp will have to use all of his nous to seek out a quality central defender at a knockdown price.

Goals have rarely been a problem for Tottenham sides of late and the current team appears no exception.  Against Burnley we had the unique distinction of having, at one point, an outfield 10 who were all goal scorers this season.  However, unlike the traditional Big Four we have yet to acquire a goal-scoring midfielder who can be relied upon to reach double figures.  If we are to break the stranglehold on the Champions League spots, perhaps this is a requisite.  This will prove a test of Harry’s powers as there is a paucity of such players in Europe, still fewer who would be available, fewer still at a price we could afford.

With Pavlyuchenko shuffling towards the exit, I wonder will he be replaced? Should he be replaced? For all Harry’s claims that a top-four side needs four top strikers vying for places, he seems content to rotate his favoured three, barring injury or suspension.  Perhaps instead of splashing out on an experienced international that will expect to start every game he should blood one of our academy products, perhaps recall Andros Townsend or Jon Obika?  The idea of producing rather than buying talent may have seemed anachronistic in past years, but even the wealthiest clubs now see it as a financial necessity.

Finally, and perhaps most pressing of all, is the goalkeeping position.  While I am a fan of Gomes (despite his erratic performances), the unfortunate injuries to Cudicini have left us woefully short of quality and competition for the number one jersey (not intentionally wishing to denigrate the talents of Jimmy Walker or Ben Alnwick).  Ben Foster has been linked in recent days and given that 2010 is a World Cup year and his pitch-time is likely to be limited by the return of Van der Sar, a switch to North London may be mutually beneficial, perhaps initially on loan, though Sir Alex is unlikely to countenance this.  David James is an obvious alternative, but would only be a temporary stop-gap, given his age.

Whatever happens in the ‘window, top of Harry’s Christmas wish list will undoubtedly be a decent points haul in what has all-too-often been a time of unilateral generosity on our behalf.  I, for one, hope Harry’s been a good boy this year, though if not, I would settle for some (Joe) Cole instead ;-)

By Robert Ainley

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Nice article, not that I agree with it necessarily! I think this suppossed caution in the transfer market is a ploy, like before, so as not to push up the prices of the players we want. We ALWAYS spend in the transfer window.

    I wholeheartedly agree re:Naughton. I really like Charlie, and think he offers a great foil to Lennon given that whoever plays right-back must get used to not overlapping so much because Azza can’t defend. This being the opposite with Hutton, who thinks he’s a better winger than RB and constantly ends up higher up the pitch than Lennon.

    I also agree that we need a goal-scoring centre-mid, Lampardesque player. But I don’t see why Modders can’t be that player. If we get Petrov or Vicente (or heaven forbid, the French whingebag Hatem Ben Arfa) then Modders could slot in to that ACM role easily. It doesn’t leave any room for the Sandro move though, so who knows?

    I think Joe Cole is a non-starter, even though we do have ‘Arry. I think this rumoured Petrov-Bentley swap with us getting £8mil is more likely, and would be a great deal for us.

  2. To be fair I would save our money for the summer. Clearly we need a new keeper to replace Cudicini. Not sure who but I am not a fan of Foster.

    I would like to see us sell Pav and bring back Dos Santos onto the bench and actually play the guy once in a while. As for a creative midfielder we have one on loan a QPR who is doing a good job. Bring back Taraabt.

    Too often we buy these young players and they rot. Play Bale more, play Naughton and many others. When Mod and Lennon are back fit we can use Krancjar in other positions also. Give Hudd, Jenas and Palicios more chances to play together.

    We don’t need more expensive players who will need time to bed in.

    Taraabt could be our 10+ goals a season midfielder. If you really want to spend a shed load of money, bring back Berbatov?

  3. Swap deals I could go for Petrov for Bentley. A new central defender is required also, I could go for Upson at the right price or Richard Dunne at any price.

  4. Great Article however you failed to mention one important person that can provide creativity in midfield and also play as a striker. He was player of the tournement at the CONCEF cup in the America’s this year, regularly player of the match for Mexico and his name is Giovani Dos Santos

    I believe we need to buy no one, we need to play Pav instead of Keane, bring back Taarabt. Dos Santos can even play up front with Defoe, Modders ACM, Taarabt on the left, Lennon on the right switching. Palacios DCM or Hud. Firing on all cylinders.

  5. I also think this squad rotation idea justs leads to pissed off players especially if no rotation happens. Bale, Bentley, Pav, Dos Santos, and to a certain extent Crouch will soon tire of the bench. I prefer an understudy system. Expensive players don't like warming the bench.

  6. I agree – we should look to bring in and bring back some of the younger lads (Bale, Dos Santos, Rose, Townsend, Bostock etc), if we can offload some of those who are currently in their way. We need to show there is some kind of reward for these players when we keep sending them away. Dos Santos will be fit and could act as the 4th striker as well as on option for the left, as could Danny Rose so if we can recoup around £10m for Pav (a player i think is a better player than he has yet shown at Spurs, and has been a bit unlucky but it has now come to the point – as it did with Bent – where a parting is now inevitable).

    The only place i think we need another body is in central midfield (and only because i think Bostock needs a bit more time) and in goal (because even before he got injured, Carlo was not a long term option).

    I would keep Bentley, but i think we can afford to let Hutton (another half decent player but one whose head seems gone at the moment), Pav
    and O’Hara – that should raise more than enough to get the two we need.

  7. its all good stuff

    i would like to see cahill at spurs looks like an exciting young player but perhaps to similar to dawson.

    BAE has been quality for the last 2 seasons he is deffinately under rated. the only time we will need a replacement left back is when he goes to african cup. but i think bale has been impressive in the short time that he has had on the pitch.

    keane is finished should get rid of him (should have let him rot at liverpool)

    bently is rubbish get rid of him

    pav aswell

    should give GDS a chance and taarabt

    and agree with you about huddlestone

    so i think they need 2strikers adn centre mid(have a feeling someone big is on there way) and a centre (cahill)

  8. There is this interestng back who plays internationally for Wales and He played well when they defeated Scotland.Unfortunately although he is a regular in the Wales side he is not good enough to play for the team that owns him!!
    Wake up Spurs!Bale is good enough to play premier league football.I remember before he had his injury he used to take all our penalties and NEVER missed.Give him a chance to play regularly and he will again develope in to being one of the best defenders in the country,

  9. Well written article, but like some, don’t agree with some comments. It is highly likely (almost certain) that Ledley would not have been the servant he has been if fully fit, it chokes me to say it but he would probably be partnering John Terry or Jamie Carragher by now?

    In regards to sales / buys this Jan I would personnaly settle for an all singing all dancing (or all defending all attacking) midfielder. Now I have just woken up, and faced the cold reality that the player i have described just doesn’t exist (not with our wage structure, available funds, no CL), or maybe they actually don’t exist full stop! Genetically modified footballer anyone? Anyone got the DNA off DAVIDS & ZIDANE, and a nuclear powered womb?

    We have cover for left wing in abundance (Krancjar, Dos Santos etc. etc.).

    We don’t need cover for centre half, we need a world class centre half! We have enough cover for the rest of this season – JUST.. I don’t think this window will provide opportunity to purchase such a player.. Even if we did by the time they ‘gelled’ the season would be almost over anyways..

    In regard to sales sell Pavlova to the highest bidder – or failing that, attach him to a 500lb lead weight and see if he floats in the English Channel! I AGREE give the youth a chance!! I would actually look at selling Keane in the summer cause I still don’t think he offers enough as a striker (dressing room attitude doesn’t account for 20-25 goals a season!).. Keane has definately lost something, ah yes Berbatoss……………………

  10. PLEASE GOD NOT Hatem ben arfa, he is awful!!! All of the sites linking us to buying him are using phrases like “french wing wizard” “or talented playmaker” HE ISN’T EITHER……he is an over rated whinging little shit who will cause more problems than solve them!

  11. And as you can see by my tag I am in france (devonian though) and although that doesnt make me an expert on french players, I have seen enough of him to know that he won’t cut it in the prem…….championship at best!

  12. Agree that you don’t need to replace pav – should buy Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton as 4th striker, he will be in premiership in a couple of years, quality player (far better than townsend who is a winger anyway.)

  13. I don’t quite see why there is all this fuss about buying another left sided player when we have Modric, Kranjcar, Dos Santos, Bale and Rose, who can all amply fill this position. What really needs to be addressed is the addition of some steel to midfield. Personally, I would like to bring in Hendry Thomas (Wigan), who happens to be Wilson’s international midfield partner.His tackling rate and performances so far this season are putting him on his way to becoming one of the best DMs in the Premier League. Also with the spammers on their uppers it would be good business to take Scott Parker off their hands as well.

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