From strikers to midfielders: Is Leroy the player Fer us?

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Dom Le Roy

From strikers to midfielders: Is Leroy the player Fer us?

In previous articles I compared statistics for strikers ((https://www.spurs-web.com/spurs-news/case-charlie-austin/) and https://www.spurs-web.com/tottenham-hotspur-fan-articles/striker-comparison-update/). My conclusion from those is that it would be difficult to find anyone a lot better than Charlie Austin and it would be even harder to find better value. I also suggested that Berahino could prove to be a decent buy, and with Kane, Austin and Berahino there would be very few teams with a better strike force. We have to wait and see, but just before leaving that, I would like to address a point that seems to be raised quite a lot in various quarters. I keep seeing blogs and articles that go along the lines of ‘No decent striker would want to come to Spurs and be sitting on the bench behind Harry Kane in the pecking order. They are missing three major points.

  1. Harry Kane played 34 games last season. Who will play the other 34 or so in the 60-70 games in the coming season? If we are to win silverware it will not be by winning the leagues, at least not in 2015-16. If I am to be proved wrong on that I would be delighted. To win silverware we need a good quality striker or two in addition to Harry Kane.
  2. There will be times to play two strikers. Berahino fits well with Kane (proven) and would probably fit well with Austin. Who knows, maybe even all three in some games. Now there’s a thought.
  3. What if Harry were injured? Who would we have? In effect, I suggest we currently have no one.

Moving back from the strikers, I am now having a look at some midfielders.

Table 1: Existing attacking midfielders

table1

 

I have excluded those I consider to be purely defensive midfielders. I have included Dembele because although he has played further back, he has occasionally played as a more attacking midfielder. When Dembele does play further forward he creates and the goal he scored came out of the four games he played as an attacking midfielder.

Question 1a. Should we ditch Dembele?

Qusetion 1b. If not, has he been misplaced in the past and should he be given more of a chance to play further forward, perhaps as an alternative to Eriksen in some games? If Eriksens

I have to admit that the stats for Lamela have surprised me. He is better than I thought, apart from scoring goals. His chance creation is high. My gut feel is to ditch him asap, but maybe I am wrong.

Question 2a. If Lamela can up his scoring rate to around a goal every three to four games, and also maintain his chance creation, perhaps by the January window, should he be maintained?

Question 2b. Would you keep him anyway?

Townsend’s minutes per goal and shot accuracy are much better than I expected. I have images of him shooting everywhere but on target, and that is clearly incorrect. He is not that great in creating chances though and I wonder if those shots, albeit on target, should have sometimes been better as passes to team mates, perhaps in the form of a hard low cross at times.  Head to transfer rumours for more football news and updates .

Question 3. Is time-up for Townsend?

Finally there is Lennon, with the best shot accuracy of the lot, even better than Charlie Austin (67%). He has however, an abysmal record of chance creation, and I remember the loss of the ball or the wayward pass at the end of a run. He also seems unable to take corners or free kicks. I looked at this one around eighteen months ago (https://www.spurs-web.com/tottenham-hotspur-fan-articles/problem-left-back/).

Question 4. Should we lose Lennon?

Now let’s have a look at something different. In my opinion the best place for Christian Eriksen is as an attacking central midfielder. I think his talents are not best used wide. Along with Nacer Chadli, he supported Harry Kane on the goal scoring front. In general, I am happy for attacking midfielders to each have around a third of the goals of the top striker, and the ratio fits, but we only had one striker scoring. Just as we need others of Harry’s quality to come in as strikers, we also need top quality behind him.

You may now wonder why I am looking at the likes of Morgqan Schneiderlin, for at least two reasons. One, he has been sold (for a reputed £27 million). Two, he is not an attacking midfielder in the mould of Eiriksen. What if we had substantial central midfield behind Eriksen? Wouldn’t that be useful? I am not sure we currently have the class. The player that was mooted previously to bring the class was Schneiderlin, so what could he have brought? We would not expect much of him in the way of goals and the stats support that view. Maybe we might expect slightly more by way of chance creation, but not too great there either. In both case no big deal as that is not what he is there for. We might expect him to win duels (includes tackles and take-ons). Schneiderlin is superb at retaining possession. In other areas I wonder if there is a better value for money alternative in the form of Leroy Fer? They are both 25, but Fer would not come with the same hefty price tag. In addition, the stats suggest that Fer can play as an attacking central midfielder. His 49 minutes per chance created are excellent and nearly as good as Eriksen’s figures. He beats both Eriksen and Schneiderlin in per cent of duels won. Fer has played as a central defensive midfielder. We therefore have here a central mid midfielder who can both attack and defend. Is that a novelty? Keep in mind the very poor quality of the team in which Fer played last season. It seems to me he is a genuine centre half, meaning the old type, not what some people nowadays confuse with a central defender. This is the player to be in front of defence, who can link with Eriksen (most importantly) and who can go forward as needed. We seem to switch from Scneiderlin to something else to something else. If we need this type of player, here he is, let’s get him now. Ideally let’s do a double deal and get Austin at the same time.

Table 2: Eriksen, Fer and Scheiderlin

table2

 

Question 5a. Has Fer got the quality Spurs want?

Question 5b. If yes, would the team need to be adjusted to accommodate him?

On another note, I see mooted players, very often with this sort of statement: ‘ He cannot actually play football at all, but is a bargain at £10 million’. OK, I am exaggerating to make the point. It is more like: ‘He is a striker, played 20 games last year, only scored twice, but is a great prospect at 19’. When you check the stats they are awful and there appears to be no basis for the valuation, with the payer having played in a mid-table European team. The claim appears to be that in a better side they would perform better. At £10 million? No thanks. Once again, step forward Charlie Austin or Saido Berahino and let’s just pay the £15 million. Ideally let’s pay £30 million and have both.

Anyway, I am veering off, so here is the final question.

Question 6. Which are your best ‘He cannot play football at all, but … ‘ transfer rumours to Spurs? A gold star will be awarded to the most outrageous claim and fee if vouched to be genuine.

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Brian has been a Spurs supporter from around 1960, so was there for the double, the FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963. He admits to having cried when Spurs lost to Benfica in the 1962 European Cup Semi-final and to times when he could weep when watching Spurs for the past few years (but for very different reasons). Brian has been lucky enough to see greats such as Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne. During the 60s, 70s and 80s Spurs won at least one domestic trophy and one European trophy each decade (with those wonderful all white strip floodlit games). It has taken Brian more than 20 years to realise that may take a while to come back, but hope lives on.

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