Spurs v Birmingham. And the Transfer Window
No change. That will do. Steady as she goes. Nothing to see here. More of the same. God this blogging lark is easy.
It is nothing short of remarkable that these things can be written about Tottenham Hotspur. We are only four matches into the season, yet a number of potential obstacles have popped up, like a 1980s Sonic computer game, but we have nonchalantly brushed them aside. Title contenders, tricky away games against local rivals, the trap set by lower league opposition in the Cup, all safely negotiated. Full bonus points, extra lives, on to the next level.
Although the prospect of a home match against Birmingham hardly sets the pulse racing, it remains a true test of our progress. The last time we played Birmingham at home, we lost 3-2 in a match that we dominated. I left the ground full of the indignant rage so familiar to Spurs fans over the years, fuelled partly by the utter injustice of this travesty, partly by anger towards our team who once again failed to convert our superiority into goals and who watched as Jerome Cameron strolled through the defence to score the late winner. Neither he nor Larsson, who volleyed a stray ball home from 30 yards, would ever again score such spectacular goals, yet they had to go and do it against us. I railed at the bluenoses ringing 606 to say their season had turned around. Fools. I was right, they were relegated, but of course once more it’s Spurs who lose to the teams at the bottom.
However, I do not believe we will falter tomorrow. This blog is more miserablist than blindly optimistic, but it’s realism that suggests we will be able to outmanoeuvre Birmingham’s well-organised midfield pressing game and that our forwards will be too strong for their defence, in whatever combination we choose to offer. King will return and Corluka move to full back, but otherwise it will be an unchanged team from last weekend. Corluka, a player I admire greatly, has not had a great start to the season, nothing serious but he may be under some pressure from Hutton, especially as the latter gives extra width. That width is not so crucial with Lennon in fine fettle, so perhaps a quiet word with Palacios to ensure the defence is properly protected is all that is required.
The other major issue is of course the transfer window, which closes in a few days time. Throughout the summer I have looked for improvement and consolidation in our squad, rather than wholesale rebuilding. Discounting men like Boeteng, who have appeared so infrequently that they don’t feel like Tottenham players anyway, there is not a single squad member who I would wish to be sold. Upon that foundation we need to bring in a few extra players to develop our quality, provide strength in depth and offer tactical options, either from the bench or to counter specific dangers in the way opponents are set up.
Crouch and Bassong fit the bill perfectly. A left sided midfielder just for the sake of it is not a priority, but another strong centre midfielder who can tackle and pass would be perfect. Trouble is, everyone is looking for the same thing.
Players will not be sold for the sake of it. I have insisted all along that despite Redknapp’s quotes at the beginning of the window, we do not need to sell in order to buy. However, some players are vulnerable if we can upgrade. One in, one out will be the order of the day. Selling Bentley or Jenas is a possibility, Pavlyuchenko a probability (I would keep all of them regardless of who joins), but without replacements the squad suddenly looks thin. Therefore, our current success should not lead to reckless selling and a squandering of our assets.
Pav wants to leave and in all probability Harry does not rate him, but he cannot be allowed to depart unless we have a replacement in the wings, and again good strikers are in short supply. Redknapp has placed a number of serious enquiries and maybe offers, and will continue to juggle the balls for as long as he can, until something shifts and everything starts to fall into place. Levy will not prevaricate on the fine print of the contracts – he would not dare to look Harry in the eye.
So farewell then Pascal Chimbonda – again. A decent price for a decent player, who contrary to most opinions I believe was an excellent buy in January. Remember the context of his arrival. The new manager bounce had well and truly vanished and our threadbare squad was performing poorly at the bottom of the league. Chimbonda could fit straight into the team, providing much needed defensive cover, and possessed the priceless asset of being available. At the time King had been written off, by Ramos at least, Woodgate was injury prone, Dawson right off form and Assou Ekotto not up to the job. We were therefore hugely vulnerable. As it transpired, of course, we did not suffer injuries, except later on to Dawson, King was magnificent, Benny the most improved player in the Premier League and Dawson found his form. Chimbonda was surplus to requirements, then as now, but a good buy at the time.
Finally, as I have written before, the absolute priority in the window is to keep our top players. Do anything to prevent Luka from being unsettled, let alone sold.