The verdict is pretty much in on the great Bale 2013 purchase spree. Three absolute flops: Soldado, Capoue and Paulinho; one modest contributor: Chiriches; one enigma/probable flop: Lamela; one solid performer: Chadli; one genuine though inconsistent star: Eriksen. If Erik Lamela took a leap in quality next year, which seems increasingly unlikely to occur, I would rate the overall haul as acceptable though short of brilliant—for now the grade must be a disappointment. The academy trio of Kane-Bentaleb-Mason receive higher marks, of course, whichever manager one wants to credit for their success. The Pochettino flavored defensive acquisitions—Vorm, Fazio, Dier, Davies and Stambouli—have made more consistent contributions but are merely gap fillers—no game changing talents or personalities among those five. Next season should tell if DeAndre Yedlin will graduate to a significant role or instead become yet another Yank who fails to pass muster in the high-octane world of Premiership football.
Taken together, along with a solid goalkeeper in Lloris; good but at times unreliable defenders in Vertonghen and Walker; a budding star left back in Rose; the occasional sparkle of Townsend; and the clinging talents of Dembele and Lennon, Spurs have a decent roster. Decent. Not outstanding. Not anywhere near the likes of at least four of their rivals for Top Four position, which unfortunately means with this group of players Europa Hell is our only destination. It is painfully obvious that to climb to that next level Spurs need an influx of key players that actually tilt the field—and preferably just as they are about to gain their prime playing ability so they could stick around for a while. I see three archetypes that Spurs would be wise (and very fortunate) to acquire or nurture. And since it is our right as fans to harbor these hopes, I feel no compunction about claiming them as important aspirations for Levy, Mitchell and Pochettino in the upcoming summer transfer window.
1. Find a John Terry. It is no accident that Chelsea have won two Premier League titles and are closing in on a third, and gained two Champions League finals (winning the one JT foolishly fouled his way out of) with Terry as their defensive anchor and captain. Hate the man, despise his behavior, but acknowledge his skill. Give me a leader, a skipper, a defender who may not be the biggest, strongest or most adept but who understands the requirements of the job and rarely slips up. Someone who grasps the positional needs in an instant, and then reacts decisively. A tough guy who can also score an occasional key goal. Jan Vertonghen is good—but he has few of the real skills we need in central defense. I want a younger and better version of Michael Dawson, and preferably I want him here for a decade;
2. Find either a Roy Keane or Paul Scholes. I know this is a wish-list, but there was a time that neither of these two all-time great central midfielders were seen for what they would eventually become. Why not find at least one of these two skill-types? With Keane we would have a toughness and purpose to our spine that would instantly change the nature of the starting XI—and would go a long way to eliminating the soft goals, the second half lapses, and the failure to apply a killer grip to a game. With Scholes we would see the attack improve dramatically—ball distribution to wings and forwards in the right place and the right time, a steadying nature to the thrust, and goals from the edge of the box whereas today we too often find stray shots without purpose or threat to the keeper. I’ll take either one of these two styles, and don’t tell me talents that could rival these two Man United legends aren’t currently available;
3. And get us a Luis Suarez. Find a young forward with genuine superstar potential—and get him before our richer rivals snatch him away. Suarez went to Ajax and then Liverpool before the world realized how brilliant he was. Of course there were always other personal issues—unique in this case—as there might be for some other 20-21 year old waiting for the chance of playing in England. But give me a dynamic pairing for Kane—with more pace, and moves in the box, and a killer instinct. Lamela, Chadli, Townsend are all decent enough footballers; Eriksen a cut above them— but they don’t have “IT”—that unique ability to take over a game which Harry seems to possess. Find another. Is that too much to ask?
With two or three players like those, Spurs could become a true Top Four side. Of course the money makes it tough—the type of player where a consensus forms around his talent could find a better deal in Manchester, West London, or even Liverpool. But Bale and Kane didn’t cost much, did they? I refuse to believe that players of this stripe cannot be found, developed and/or acquired by the 6th richest team in the Premiership?. I root for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. Quarterback is by far the most important position in American football. We had a Hall-of-Fame talent for a decade and a half in Brett Favre—stolen from his first team where he languished on the bench in a forgettable rookie season. And then as his career was winding down the Packers plucked another Hall-of-Fame QB in Aaron Rodgers, after 23 other teams passed him over in the first round of the college draft. Luck? Sure. But wisdom as well. Give me just a bit more of the latter and we can make the former.
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