Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Spoke too soon.

It seems I may have been tempting fate when I titled my last blog 'Back on Track?'. As once again, in typical Spurs fashion some might say, we went from looking like the free flowing team that was tearing all in front of us apart earlier in the season, to looking completely clueless when it came to breaking down a team with one of the worst home records in the league, in less than a week.

Aston Villa, Sundays opponents, offered little going forward, and we looked unusually comfortable in defence. Their goal, a deflected long-range strike from Ciaran Clark, was more than avoidable and the only time they really threatened. There was no real attempt to close Clark down, other than a late scramble from Sandro, while our defence seemed reluctant to leave the dangerous Heskey unmarked.

This combined with a lack of options from his own teammates, saw the Irishman try his luck from an unlikely scoring distance. William Gallas, in what I can only imagine was an attempt to protect his rugged good looks, did as much as he could to get out of the way without looking like he was completely petrified of blocking the shot, and the ball cannoned off the Frenchman and caught a flat footed Brad Friedel off guard to give them an undeserved lead.

An unfortunate, but deserved, red card for Danny Rose didn't do us any favours shortly after half time. But our obvious class continued to shine through, as even a man short, we dominated a truly awful Villa side.

Sandro continued his fine end to the season and won the penalty which Adebayor coolly dispatched to draw us level before we looked for a winning goal which, sadly, never came.

Three points would have put us in the driving seat in the race for third after our North London rivals Arsenal slipped up the day before at home to Norwich, drawing 3-3. But a lack of conviction and ruthlessness cost us dearly and we face a nervy final day of the season when we welcome Martin Jol back to The Lane with his Fulham side.

In what can definitely be described as typical of Tottenham this season, we had countless attempts on goal, an overwhelming majority of possession and an almost unwatchable number of pointless corners, yet we scored just one goal, from a penalty.

There's been plenty of calls for a 'world class' striker to be signed for numerous transfer windows, and on reflection, we've probably never replaced Berbatov. Remy, Huntelaar, Llorente and Damiao are the names mentioned most, but we have no idea whether they could be the next Berbatov, or the next Postiga. There is always an incredible risk when buying forwards from abroad with no experience of the Premier League.

The speed and physicality of the BPL are always mentioned by players shortly after their introduction, and despite all their attributes in their own leagues, we still can't be sure  if any of the names mentioned will flourish here.

I'm a big fan of Adebayor, and think he's been just what we've been looking for since the Bulgarian headed north to Manchester. His record, despite a poor run mid-season, is 16 goals in 31 Premier League starts and one substitute appearance. Not too shabby.

If he wants to stay, as he has said he would, he will have to take a considerable pay cut. I can't see Levy offering more than what our top earners receive currently, with possibly a bit more on top. Which would no doubt be matched for the likes of Modric and Bale shortly after.

I do however, think the fee City will want for him will ultimately determine how his contract pans out. Should they be happy to take the hit and let us have him for say, £8m, then I can see Ade receiving a large signing on bonus and be happy to be on par with Luka and Gareth wage-wise. But, if the Mancunians look for that bit extra for a forward with a strike rate of a goal every other game this season, which they are well within their right to do, and ask for something in the region of £12-15m, I can see the contract negotiations being a lot tougher, or ultimately a stumbling block or deal breaker.

Harry Redknapp, once again showed his tactical naivety and lack of imagination, as the dangerous Jermain Defoe, and the unpredictable Louis Saha were not called upon to try and break the deadlock. Instead, Harry removed van der Vaart, one of our most creative and threatening players, and replaced him with consistent, but uninspiring, in an attacking sense anyway, Scott Parker. Who, at one point this season, when he found himself beyond the oppositions back line, ran towards the touchline with the ball, and straight out of play.

It was very un-Tottenham like, settling for a point, which on paper, with 10 men, is a fine result, from the manager. Where was the bravery? The confidence? The risk? The sheer arrogance to say, 'we're going to win this game, 10 men or not, we're going to go for it, attack them, claim third and stay there'? It was stuck on the bench.

The quote that inspired this blog (see below), sums up how 99% of Spurs supporters want to see us play. You score 3? Fine, we'll score 4.

Harry is far from being a Tottenham fan, and despite bringing up each and every player he can think of from our past to defend his lack of rotation, didn't seem keen on remembering that piece of history on Sunday.

Danny Rose's dismissal at Villa Park has left many wondering how we will approach the Fulham game on Sunday, something I will look at in another blog closer to the weekend.

There's plenty of other unanswered questions too. Ajax's Belgian central defender Jan Vertonghen, has issued a blatant come-and-get-me plea to Mr Levy, which as far as we can tell, has been ignored, officially anyway. Is he the player we need?

Could Vertonghen be a replacement for Ledley King? Not if you believe the rumours today that King is set to be offered a new deal.

But then, we all know better than to believe what we read in the papers. Don't we?

It is better to fail aiming high than succeeding aiming low. And we at Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory” Bill Nicholson.

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