Who, When and Why? (The in's)
For someone who claims to dislike transfer windows, why do I feel a little like a kid in a sweetshop, when they open?
Firstly when I say dislike, I am probably lying to myself, as anyone who likes football, warts and all, has to take some pleasure in the rumours and speculation of who is moving, staying or simply the victim of a made up media. As a fan of the game, I dislike the timing of the windows, but that also perhaps fits in with a few timing niggles of the game itself. I wont get started on a winter break after Christmas and before the 3rd round of the Cup, that is for another day, perhaps. What seems to be interesting from a Tottenham perspective is that there seems to be a willingness to spend money, if the right players become available and there are plenty of names in the hat already, and many to get quite excited about.
I have stated several times, that although we need to improve and add depth in a few places, I am not chomping at the bit to buy players. If the right ones come along, brilliant! But I want the right players, not the wrong ones at the right time, if that makes any sense. Historically, Spurs have often bought the bright shiny thing, that might not fit well with what they have already and it has often ended in tears. Equally we have often struggled in getting the balance right between the today and tomorrow signing and in recent years and a Director of Football role, we have often appeared to have two people working to differing policies, something I have blamed Daniel Levy for instigating, though hopefully lessons have been learned.
Lets start with the stability of the club. Firstly Levy was either very brave or very stupid in the summer in sacking a man who had achieved good results, latterly on a tighter budget that we were used to. Appointing a ready made victim of the media in AVB and sacking its darling, Levy and Spurs were putting themselves firmly in the firing line and had the potential to be a laughing stock of the game. Six months later, I don't see anyone laughing but Tottenham fans, whilst no doubt Mr Levy is feeling quite smug and so he should be. As Coopsieyid quite rightly wrote earlier in the week, Caution was perhaps the order of the day in the summer. New man with a potential to make us look foolish at the helm, was perhaps not the time to rashly Spend! Spend! Spend!, money so painfully earned. Questions still remain over many or all of the summer signings and which were club buys and which were truly admired or wanted by AVB. Perhaps that is media mischief or the workings of a paranoid Spurs fans mind, but it is fair to say that all have either done well or at least not been turkeys (yet), whilst in already established players, it is fair to say that whilst one or two haven't quite hit previous levels, others have become different class.
So, if we haven't already agreed that AVB is the new messiah, we should be pretty close. As a fan of the game, I remember vividly talking about a certain Alex Ferguson being out of his depth at United and perhaps even them appointing Bryan Robson as manager. OH how stupid that looks today. AVB might still fall on his backside and be a huge failure, but even in some of his questionable decisions, it seems that most have looked inspired when hindsight kicks in. Aaron Lennon as captain! Hugo Lloris on the bench? Need I continue? Of course managers make mistakes, thats all part of the game, and I suppose aside from the ones that have the most money to spend, those that succeed are the ones that make the fewest errors. AVB seems to be a man who thinks things through and who has very clear ideas on what he wants and how to get it. Based on that, I feel quite comfortable that he wont look to waste the clubs money on quick fixes and will instead look at round pegs for similarly shaped holes.
January is always a difficult time to buy. Often players are overly priced, half fit, cup tied or carrying baggage. Perhaps therefore you only buy if a bargain or if you are absolutely desperate. Are we desperate? I don't think so, so is it bargains or buying when we have the chance, even if we don't have the need until the summer? With Carlo already flown to pastures new, Gomes on 'Holiday' we perhaps already have space for one or two new faces without worrying about squad numbers. Also you assume that if we bring in players, someone will be sold or loaned to cover some of the cost, though of course that is dependant on A) finding a buyer, and, b) retaining squad balance. Clearly you don't want to sell a player and leave yourselves short elsewhere. Many fans will be rejoicing at the return of Jermaine Jenas yesterday. Thats the midfield sorted then…
Defensively, I don't see much inward movement in January to be honest. With the return of BAE and the hopeful but delayed return of Kaboul, it seems we have quality and cover at the back. perhaps it is more a case of holding on to one or both of Gallas and Dawson, just in case we suffer any relapses to the returning players, and you don't feel we will lose anything significant on Dawson if we keep him until the summer, whilst Gallas could sign a pre contract deal now if he wished, as he is out of contract in the summer. Perhaps better safe than sorry. Again lets look at a new keeper as long term cover/competition for Lloris and perhaps sort the centre back issue at the same time, when players have longer to settle and are usually more willing to make a change. I read last night that there might be a bid for former United left back Eziekial Fryers, and if that is true, do we assume that BAE is going or Danny Rose isn't coming back?
In the middle of the park, we again look to this player to add creativity and spark to our midfield. Moutinho appears to be the one AVB has wanted, but the list of others seems endless. What perhaps interests me most is what tile we eventually go for. Do we want one to play deep, high or both? Perhaps we want that #playwherethehellyoulike individual? Maybe we are still looking at a deep lying playmaker AND someone to fill the hole behind a striker. After all we were supposedly looking at Willian AND Moutinho in the summer. will we do the same now, if the right players come along? Question is, have our targets changed and what are the better alternatives? Sandro and Dembele have been truly immense, but what and who comes in for Mousa when he is unfit? Tom Carroll aside, we lack obvious creativity without him in the middle, so do we need a new Modric, and even then does that mean the start of a change of system or regular rotation and changing roles?
In attack, It again seems apparent that we need another striker, whether as competition or as first choice. Adebayor has not lived up to last seasons try before we buy, and Defoe has done well, but is he the answer? AVB has again spoken of Leandro Damiao, whilst Fernando Llorente is available between now and the summer, should we be able to tempt either. Seemingly Internacional are feeling some financial strain, after failing to make the Copa Libertadordes and may be willing to sell or at least have to sell someone, but with God knows how many third party owners having a piece of the player, is this a deal that has had to be unravelled over past months, or will we again be frustrated at too many complications and an inflated value? As for Llorenthe, I have always had a gut feeling that he wont travel well and is a potential failure. I may be totally wrong, but I just have that feeling and I can't shake it. I also see the likes of Juve and several others offering serious competition in the summer as they see far less gamble on a Bosman free.
So, at some stage, it is a new keeper, new left back, one or two centre backs, a creative midfielder, a wide player, two if Bale leaves in the summer. Someone to play in the hole. a 30 goals a season superstar striker. All that and we surely win the title! Perhaps getting them all this month is too big an ask, but perhaps one or two of them is significant progress and that is good enough for me...