Transfer business in the Premier League has become all too predictable but Michael Owen’s transfer to Manchester United has surprised everyone, not least the player himself. The deal is an example that Harry Redknapp is highly likely to follow on behalf of Spurs.
I had a sneaking feeling that Owen would come to Tottenham. When it comes to transfer business, Redknapp starts twitching when he spies a bargain, like those antique dealers who claim to know instinctively when they are in the presence of a genuine work of art. He likes a veteran, does our ‘arry. At Portsmouth he made good use of Kanu in particular and others like Campbell, Primus and Hreidarsson played important roles when it appeared they were on the slide. The very best example of Redknapp’s talent, however, is right here at the Lane. Ramos wrote off Ledley King, whereas Redknapp resurrected his career and restored him to his rightful status as one of the finest centre halves in the club’s history.
It makes good sense. Redknapp gave them a crystal clear idea of where they fitted into the team and asked them to play to their strengths. The defenders, well, defended. Protected by an industrious midfield, they were instructed to stay back, not venture forward, and do the business in and around the box.
Kanu’s example is especially relevant to Spurs because we lack an effective target man whose ability to bring others into the game is at least as significant as their goals per game ratio. It’s certain we will sign this type of player this summer. With Keane, Defoe and Modric scuttling around him and Lennon providing the crosses, the team will surely prosper. Bent has been given the chance to prove himself in this respect and has been found sadly wanting. Experience counts in this position, body strength and an awareness of what is going on around you more valuable than the stamina to hurl yourself around the pitch for 90 minutes. Even Heskey can do it, for goodness sake.
It makes good sense in the boardroom too. There’s no such thing as a free transfer these days, what with signing-on fees and the ludicrous salary Owen no doubt ‘earns’. However, the hall of mirrors that is modern transfer business distorts the real world so completely that it becomes entirely plausible to claim that this is a fine piece of business. United’s success can generate the income to pay high salaries and the absence of a transfer fee ensures that their capital remains intact. It’s the interest on the vast loans that financed the Glasers’ takeover that is potentially damaging to the club in the long term, so this deal does not add to the borrowing requirement.
At Spurs our finances have a more solid foundation but the principle remains the same. It’s excellent business and we will no doubt indulge at some point in the window. However, we’re better than Portsmouth and need better quality players, so the majority of signings have to be of a high calibre. Redknapp won’t have to work his magic on too many old stagers. It’s a luxury he’s not had before as a manager.