Date:Thursday September 1 2011
Well, that's that. Three months of endless debate, drama, nausea, glee, stupefaction, anger, shock, despair, outrage, gloom, delight...have now come to an end. The 2011-2012 summer transfer window has come, charmed us all with its glimpses of world-class strikers and rock-hard defenders, dazzled us with reports of bids for superstars and world-class talent, shocked us with news of loan signings and freebies, and at the death, has left us in peace as it whooshed away, leaving nothing but a grinning Tony Pulis and a sobbing David Moyes in its wake. And while Sky struggle to mask their horrendous disappointment at the blatant lack of last-minute, stupendously-inflated bids being thrown about for foreign-sounding chaps by their favorite clubs, the rich ones, we here at good old Tottenham Hotspur seem a bit divided. Following the lines of debate, it seems roughly half of us view this transfer window as a good one for our grand old club, and the other half view it as an unmitigated failure. 'Where are the Rossis, the Llorentes, the Damiaos?' Springs forth the cry. 'Where are the Jenases, Palacioses, Crouches? Somewhere else, that's where!' roars the returning answer. The closure of the window seems to have vexed our fanbase somewhat, and, for what it's worth, I though I'd throw my humble two cents into the matter. Quite simply, on the whole, and taking into account all the factors involved, I think we've had a rather good window. I've listed the reasons for this small judgement below, and you erudite chaps are quite free to direct abuse as you see fit should the narrative upset you at any point.;)
1)We've not spent much money; 'But that's universally accepted to Be A Bad Thing!' I hear you cry. Not quite, good chaps, not quite. Yes, we haven't spunked out tens of millions of pounds for some world-class name to lighten up the Lane (and indeed, we haven't spent more than seven to eight million pounds throughout the duration of the window, apparently) but look at it this way; we don't need one. There are four reasons for this line of thinking.
Firstly, at the end of last season, it was universally accepted that only the lack of a proper striker had held us back in our quest to finish in the top four. This, we have addressed, bringing in Adebayor, who is possessed of strength, technique, pace and aerial ability; everything, arguably, we need in a striker. Yes, his attitude is questionable at times, but this is the same man who scored thirty goals in a single season for Arsenal, something none of our forwards have ever managed to do. This is the same man who tormented us last season against Madrid, and the same man who has scored ten times in twelve games against us. The goals are in him, and playing in a team where he is assured of being the focal point (thus ensuring his ego is cared for) should coax them out of him again. So what if it's a loan? It's highly unlikely we can afford to fully pay his wages, so signing him permanently was always a non-goer. He will score, that seems certain.
Secondly, the squad we possessed at the end of last season was acknowledged as being one of the best in the Premiership. It still is. In Friedel, we have a reliable GK; in Gomes, an able back-up. In BAE, the league's most consistent left-back-in Rose, a young left-back with pace and potential. In Walker, we have a (hopefully) future England RB, and in Corluka, a RB with knowledge and awareness. In Dawson and Kaboul, we have two talented defenders who, while not world-class, have consistently shone when played alongside experienced heads. In King, due back from injury, and Gallas, we have those heads. Additionally, we have one of our brightest prospects in years, Steven Caulker, out on loan, and, by all accounts, performing well in the colours of Swansea. Had we spent money on a young centre-back, it would have possibly denied him his chance to seize a CB berth when he returns next year. Returning to the squad, in Modric (more on him later) and Sandro, we have two of the league's most dynamic players in defence and attack, respectively, and in Parker we have acquired a snarling midfield dynamo who will provide us with the steel and leadership that we have lacked for so long. In Huddlestone, Livermore and Kranjcar, we have more than able back-up. On the wings, we have Gareth Bale, who will now have the aerial presence of Adebayor to aim at, and Lennon, who, while frustrating at times, can be deadly on his day. Again, in Iago Falque and in the still-present (amazing, isn't it?) Gio Dos Santos, we have more than adequate cover. In the forward line, the addition of Adebayor means we now boast a forward line of Adebayor, VdV, Defoe and Pav, which, while not ideal (another striker would have been) is still more than talented enough to compete this season. So, overall, we have a very good squad- a mix of youngsters (Rose, Walker, Livermore, Iago) mixed with older heads (Friedel, King, Gallas, Parker) and a lot of very, very good players in between. The addition of promising players returning from loan next year (Caulker, Naughton and co.) will mean we will have exciting young reinforcements for a number of positions that have been tested in the Premier League.
Thirdly, we have at present one of the most exciting youth systems in England. If anyone hadn't yet noticed, the Next Gen series kicked off a few weeks ago. Spurs were held to a 2-2 draw away in Basle on the opening day, but yesterday absolutely annihilated Inter Milan at Orient's Matchroom Stadium, winning 7-1 on the night. A Croatian trialist, Tomislav Gomelt, scored a hat-trick, with our wonder-kid signing Souleymane Coulibaly netting twice and Alex Pritchard scoring two as well. This kind of result only emphasizes what has been becoming gradually clear over the past few years- Spurs' academy is improving at a rapid rate. Under the leadership of Tim Sherwood, Spurs' youth have been involved in some terrific results in recent times, turning over the first-teams of many League Two, and indeed, League One sides in behind closed-doors friendlies and excelling in youth competitions abroad. The likes of Tom Carroll, Harry Kane, Cristian Ceballos and the afore-mentioned Coulibaly are all currently associated with the team-given time, there is no reason why they cannot become regulars in the Spurs squad, as they all seem possessed of great natural ability, and seem determined and hard-working. Therefore, a quick-fix buy might not be necessary, as there is no reason why these lads can't make the step up in a few years' time.
Fourthly, and finally, in Harry Redknapp we have a manager that isn't on very sure footing. Whether it is the England job, the clink or just his own incompetence, Harry's job security has not been at its most stable in these past few months, and the situation is bound to destabilize further as his court-case, Capello's resignation and the aftermath of Euro 2012 draw ever closer. Additionally, the issuing of statements repeatedly contradicting the chairman's firm line on Modric, plus his evident unhappiness at being excluded from transfer dealings and his inability to settle a list of mutually agreeable targets with Levy has clearly shown that their relationship is not at its most harmonious. There is friction there, and it is looking increasingly likely that Harry will be off come the summer of 2012, or sooner, if HMRC intervene. So why should the chairman have spent a load of money buyng players to fit Harry's system when the new manager who arrives after him may possibly want to switch to an entirely different one? No point spending 15 million pounds, for example, on Gary Cahill, only to see him benched when the new man decides he prefers Caulker or his own new signing come 2012. So in my view, not spending too much money doesn't mean Levy's suddenly become enormously tight-fisted (well, beyond his usual tight-fistedness, anyway) but pobably that he's saving the money in order to provide the new manager with a more ample war-chest to bring in the players he wants. Seeing as much of the CL money remains unspent, and the sales of Crouch, Palacios, Hutton, Keane and O'Hara have brought in anything between 25-30 million pounds according to which newspaper you read, I would imagine that a war-chest of around fifty million quid would be available to the new man come summer 2012 (assuming we don't spend anything in January), which is not a bad fund to dip into indeed.
2)Modric remains at the club, as per the chairman's assurances; This point is vital. Throughout the summer, as his stroppiness and unwillingess to wear the shirt intensified, an increasing number of Spurs supporters, sickened by it all, were demanding that he be sold, as his heart wasn't in it anymore and his presence would only destabilize the club. While both may yet prove to be true, in my eyes, they were missing the point. It was never about Luka Modric. The statement Levy issued two months ago was crystal clear, not only in its meaning, but in its implications. He was not going to sell Luka Modric for any amount of money this summer, not to Chelsea or any other club. Now, in summers past, this would have been seen as merely a price-raising tactic by Levy; after all, Spurs always sell when the price gets high enough. Always. They are a selling club, aren't they? How many of you have heard these words repeated again and again by endless media outlets this summer? The preception of our club was that we were merely a stepping-stone; a perennial feeder club to the big boys. We will never achieve any sort of sustained success with that tag, and Levy knew that. By selling Luka Modric, not only was he confirming his club's status as a perennial selling club, he was reaffirming to the media his lack of nerve, his spinelessness when it came to keeping his star men; so for one season at least, Levy was determined to stop it. Amid all the media cacophony, amid the increasing mutterings of a bewildered Redknapp and the unhappy moaning of a morose Modric, Levy held his ground. Because he also (and this is the crucial point) had to send out a message to the other star players at the club as well; that they were not going to get a move by whinging and moaning, like Berbatov did and like Modric was trying to do. This message had to be hammered across, otherwise we would see the same thing every summer, as Modric's move would be followed by Bale next summer, VdV after that and Coulibaly, in all probability, after that. It had to stop somewhere. So while we have an unhappy player on the pitch, and while his heart may well not be in it, and while he may well spread dissent in the dressing room; on this, Levy has kept his word, and has hammered home a message both to the vulturous clubs and the prima-donna players they will alwas seek to prise from our grasp; you will not get our players easily, and the players themselves will not get a move easily. That is a message we had to send out, and I'm thankful we did.
3)In Parker, we have at last the leadership we so badly need; Last season, we suffered when playing the small teams. We lacked drive, we lacked determination , we lacked ruthlessness. This led to so many of the demoralising defeats and draws that ended our CL hopes. This season, we have suffered playing the big boys' in two games, we have been humiliated. We have looked clueless, hopelesss and careless. We look like we collectively lack a spine, and the team's heads fall when we go even a goal down. The old fighting spirit just isn't there anymore. That's exactly why I'm happy we've signed Parker. When you look at his abilities, though, he doesn't seem to offer all that much more than, say, Palacios. He's a growling tacker, just like Wilson was. He screens the defence, just like Wilson did. He has a better sense of passing, and he has a more assured long-range shot on him, but otherwise he's Palacios Mk2. But the reason why he is elevated from a mundane defensive everyman into someone who can fundamentally change our squad is this; he is a leader. He has grit, determination ,and a dirive to see his team succeed. We need someone like that. We need someone who can fire a rocket up the likes of Daws' and Defoe's arses when they're not performing, someone who can galvanize our side to give their all in every game, who can lead the team in maintaining focus and discipline when playing the big boys and remain concentrated and determined when playing the small ones. In my eyes, Parker can give us that. So in summation, yes, he's thirty, and yes, he played for a relegated West Ham, but if he can galvanize our side and keep their morale up and their concentration going even when we're struggling, he will be worth every penny of what we paid for him.
4)Deadwood.Out; Crouch, one of our highest earners, gone. Palacios, unneeded, gone. Hutton, useless, gone. O'Hara, unwanted, gone. Keane, past his best, gone. Bentley, one-trick pony, gone (admittedly on loan). Jenas. just. Gone. Whichever way you look at it, we've just cleared out most of our non-performers, earned a very tidy packet, and sliced a huge amount of the wage bill, potentially paving the way for a higher wage cap and increased salaries for our top players, the likes of Bale, VdV et al, which might make it easier to keep them in the long run. So there's definitely some good business that has been concluded there.
So, in my view, those four above are the main reasons why I feel we've had a succesful transfer window. There are plenty of things I've omitted to mention (the possibilty of signing Damiao in January, the possibility that much of the revenue raised during this window will go towards the hopefully imminent NDP, the shutting of Chelsea, Sky and the football world's putrid gobs when it came to Modric) but then me detailing those would mean this article being so long it would continue right off the edge of the screen and onto your keyboards. So i'll just content myself with stopping here, sincerely apologize to anyone I might have bored into a comatose state of oblivion, and end my ramble on this note of cheer;
At least we haven't signed Craig Bellamy.;)
The window's over, the sun is shining, and Wolves away is up next. Let's get the team galvanized, fit and ready and raring to go. There are brighter times ahead, of that I'm positively positive.
Come on You Spurs.
Date:Thursday September 1 2011
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