Our depressing inconsistent form is sure to continue attracting the headlines and filling discussion forums for a while as we try to find solutions to what has been a very mediocre season thus far (transition or not).
Something that has sneaked under the radar and has not been picked up is that before many of our current players signed for us, they were in bright sparkling form doing the business for their previous clubs. It’s only when they arrived at the lane that their performances started dwindling to mediocre levels. This can only lead to the assumption of two things. We bought duds or our clubs overall philosophy is bereft of bringing the best out of our players.
I know some of you love playing devils advocate and will counter saying our management model cannot be that bad as we have produced the likes of Bale and nurtured players like Modric, who are now permanent fixtures in a champions league winning side. Fair point.
But what about the other multitude of players we have invested fortunes in? Obviously, not every signing we make can become absolute world class or even a successful buy for that matter. Some signings work, others simply do not. What concerns me, is how many players we signed have failed to replicate the quality that pursuaded us to buy them in the first place.
The business/football model we seem to favour has done little to accentuate the careers of many of the recent buys. We are talking about about the likes of Dembelè, Soldaldo, Vertonghen, Lamela and a few others.
As previously stated, they were all lynchpins in their former clubs and were subject to a lot of interest from other teams before we got their signatures. Most of our recent acquisitions were like big fishes in little ponds before they came. Now we have them playing for a club like ours with the expectations that come with it, they look like tiny goldfishes lost in a massive ocean. Let’s consider Moussa Dembele as a prime example.
This man in his last season at Craven Cottage was the life blood of the team. He was not an integral part of Fulham’s midfield, in fact, he WAS their midfield. Martin Jol was reported to confess,’Dembele is probably the best player on the ball I have ever seen’. Quite some statement. Dembele is simply a tank. Trickery, muscle, acceleration, tackling and a decent shot too. I will never get tired reprising clips on YouTube when Dembele gave Manchester United at Old Trafford one of the most difficult games of their lives. That performance had all the MOTD presenters cooing after him. He was a special player that decided the outcome of games at Fulham. His signature was greeted with lots of enthusiasm when he initially arrived at Spurs. Fast forward to the present and his career has stalled woefully. He has not done bad. But he has not set the lane alight either. What happened to such a midfield lieutenant that was so fluid in expressing himself and carrying the hopes of a team on his shoulders? Very baffling indeed.
Time and space will not allow me to deliberate in detail about Eriksen, Vertonghen, Soldado etc who prior to signing for Spurs, were outstanding and not only that but indispensable members of their teams as well. The moment all these fashionable names arrived they have never looked like the real versions we thought we were signing. They honestly look like imposters most of the time!
The likely reason for the decline attributes to the lack of consistency with management. In other words, Levy’s rendition of Lord Alan Sugar’s,’You’re fired!’ has played a part in all this melee. Different managers with different ideas will favour different players over any given period of time. Thus, the effect of leaving some in the cold, or played out of position arises. What’s worse is due to having so many players, it’s a fact that to compliment the team other players will have to be sacrificed and get little or no game time. Players who were once used to playing regularly, perhaps even captains of their former sides (Fazio, Vertonghen, Soldado and Kaboul for example) appear at Spurs and are given bit part roles. How’s that for confidence? You cannot help but think some of them sorely regret ever signing the dotted line for Daniel Levy. You know our overall club philosophy is questionable when you consider players like Gylfi Sigurðsson who have left and is thriving under a stable and well structured football club.
He came to the club like many before him with a treasure chest of promise and potential. Sadly, our management did not value him enough to give him a run in the side to establish himself. How could he when he was competing with about seven or more players who were also ‘hot prospects’ at the time? Now, competition is always good for business but in everything there needs to be a balance. Sigurðsson was underplayed, undervalued and undercast at Spurs. With his second coming at Swansea, he has been handed the reigns and given an arm around the shoulder. He doesn’t hope to start games, he knows he will, in his favoured No.10 role too. What has been the result? In 15 appearances, he has 8 assists (bettered only by Fabregas with 11). Nobody at Swansea has created more chances than Gylfi for the Swans which is 38 in total with 31 of them being key passes. I could go on. His contributions has seen him lift Swansea above us in the league and to be honest I do not think we have been above them yet and that says something. A former Spurs player taking responsibility and leading the charge for his side. If only the players we had now were the same.
Gylfi exemplifies my point that we lack and have not had a structure at the club that actually works for the players. He came to us, we could not utilise him and then sold him and now he is fulfilling all his earlier promise. Is that coincidence or just because of facts we choose to deny? Even Glen Hoddle said the other day that Soldaldo is the kind of player who could probably leave us and go on to be a goal machine and embarrass Spurs. I believe that goes for a lot of our players too who look like they would really shine if they moved.
It’s why I scoff at our transfer targets in the media because until we sort out the fundamentals at this club, we could sign both Messi and Ronaldo and I ensure you they would struggle with us. It’s unfair to blame our footballing model for all our problems because I suppose the players have to be willing to get stuck in and assert themselves as well. But I feel it’s more to do with the structure/formation/philosophy/identity (call it what you want) we have at the Lane that has proved to be our undoing. Until we get that right, they might as well sign me this January transfer window, I would only demand a modest 25K a week!
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