Step Forward Bond, Les, Allen, Joe, Tim – We Need You Now

Not so much an article on the aftermath of the transfer window for Tottenham Hotspur, more a series of slightly disjointed thoughts.

 

Or maybe, ‘disjointed’ is a suitable summary of our transfer policy this time around. There was one constant, however: the word ‘no’, uttered in Geordie, Spanish, west country and Scottish accents, plus a few others no doubt. Levy and Harry aren’t used to this.

 

This blog has been highlighting the problems with our strikers for some time and to be fair to them Redknapp and Levy responded by making huge bids for high quality players. And Andy Carroll. We can’t fault them in this respect at least. Remember that whatever figure is quoted in the media is only the opening bid. If the players wanted to come, we could have upped the cash but we hit a brick wall in the shape of the cold hard realities of modern football.

 

It’s January and everyone is after the same scarce players, never mind clubs anxious to keep their precious assets, thereby suddenly finding the money to increase salaries and extend contracts. Thanks to Levy’s prudence we have money but there are often (but not always) others who are rich enough and desperate enough to spend beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

 

Step forward Roman Abramovich. He’s been quiet of late, seeing if his team can cope without him. They can’t: they need to rebuild. Faced with buying a new model or a repair job, in the end Roman cannot bear to leave his precious toy to decay so he finds a spare £50m down the back of the sofa. On the day that his club announces operating losses of around £70m, we can’t compete in this parallel reality, and neither should we.

 

In our world, we went big, big and risky. £25m for Carroll and clearly some sustained bargaining over the last few weeks. Again to be fair to Levy, I suspect that rate than leave things to the last minute as it appears, he and Harry have a method in their apparent madness. They work away over an extended period, making sure clubs and players know we are interested, then we come with a late run on the inside, rather than coming out of the blue. I doubt the offers as are much of a surprise to the selling club as they claim.

 

It’s been effective in the past but on this occasion Liverpool suddenly fulfil the criteria. Answer yes or no to the following questions: Rich – Yes. Desperate –yes. Oh god yes. Reckless – yes. Prepared to pay a bonkers sum for a largely untried but admittedly talented prospect – yesyesyes.

 

We can’t tick all the boxes and again, good decision re Carroll in my view, not worth the £35m risk. The Spanish players don’t fancy north London, the salary, the lack of tax breaks or the fact that they don’t really know who Spurs are. The World Famous Home of the Spurs and a CL place if you are cup tied cuts little ice if you’re fifth, I’m sad to say. Face it – they have to have a blinding reason to come and Harry’s banter isn’t it.

 

So we were left with nothing. That’s how it felt last night but that’s manifestly unfair. What we are left with are the players who got us into the CL last year, plus Pienaar, a useful addition in my view, and Rafa of course. There’s plenty to work with and Harry and the coaches have to work damn hard to turn around the fast fading form.

 

I would have liked to see the arrival of a defensive midfielder who could properly shield the defence and allow Luka and others the freedom to get forward. The Adam bid was absurd, a sign of desperation for a decent but overpriced player who does not fulfil those requirements and anyway Hud can pass better than he can.

 

Crouch. From my viewpoint, he’s been awful in the league this season, but I’m not going over that again. Harry’s not stupid – he put a lot of faith in Crouch who has not repaid him. The centre forward has limitations but he has been woefully off-form even by his relatively average standards. Harry must be as disappointed as I am. He didn’t expect us to be in this situation, crying out for a striker. Pav he doesn’t rate and JD lacks sharpness and the nouse to play on his own up front.

 

All our rivals have strengthened in this window. Sunderland have invested part of the Bent money in a couple more midfielders. Like us they don’t score that many but unlike us, they have a plan B – work like Trojans, defend hard in midfield and see what they can nick. It’s not an insult – far from it, it works in the Prem but we can’t do it. They are set for the battle.

 

Perhaps the most vulnerable are L’arse – scintillating midfield (although is Nasri injured?) but weak if you can get at them. But then I think that every season and look what happens…

 

The key people at the club right now are the coaching staff. They have to reorganise and reinvigorate our flagging form and spirits. Waiting for the CL to start again is not an option. I maintain what I said yesterday – you can’t turn form on and off. The team’s potential would be greatly increased by the addition of a top striker but what we have remains underdeveloped. There’s so much more we can do – let’s get back to basics, work like stink with this talented squad and get some results. If the strikers aren’t scoring, work on the midfield coming through into the box. Try two up front and sacrifice an attacking midfielder – even Lennon if the balance requires it. Rest Hutton and bring back Charlie again. Something different with what we have.

 

A final thought. Damien Commolli’s period as Director of Football created backroom tensions that harmed the club’s development. However, he brought a wealth of talent to the club, talent that needed to be developed and nurtured but was worth the wait. That supply has largely dried up since he left, assuming that Rafa’s arrival was as sudden and unexpected as the accounts make out.

 

Commolli may or may not have spotted those players himself and some of the deals were in the pipeline before he arrived. However, he had a wealth of knowledge about European football, the contacts to know not just about ability but also temperament, whether they wanted to settle in England, what price it would take to get them. That’s what modern scouts have to do, and it seems to me that we have to find someone who can do something similar. Given our experiences in the window, even with money that wasn’t enough. We have to get hold of players on the up, like Modric, and make them into stars.

 

Harry was always able to pull out a plum, However, you don’t hear so much now that he has Levy to keep a close eye on all the, um, payments. No inflated salaries either. Also, Harry’s contacts bring him players who will shine (usually) but not those of the highest quality. It’s a different world now, remember.

 

The problems with the DoF role were partly down to Commolli liking the power but mainly down to Levy’s weak grasp on the key management question in any business – who is in charge and what is the line of accountability for decision-taking? I don’t advocate a return to those days but call him a chief scout, call him a co-ordinator, call him Shirley, but we need someone who can find those players on their way up.

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Step Forward Bond, Les, Allen, Joe, Tim – We Need You Now

  1. Just a quick point about Comilli (i agree with everything you’ve said in the article) – you said about him knowin g what he’s doing – he does now work at Liverpool – they did just spend £35m on Carroll – he better know what he’s doing or he won’t be at Liverpool veryu long either!

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  2. Pretty fair comment. Pav and Crouch’s shortcomings last year were made up for lots of goals from other players which seem to have dried up. Defoe is good but has never formed a partnership with any Spurs player.

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  4. Picking up on your closing thoughts about Comolli: it’s also noticeable that he was behind two of the big deals y’day. And while L’Pool rejoice today we are left with the problems we started out with. I really do wonder what Harry is up to packing his midfield with competent but hardly ‘the best of the best’ players when it is so obvious that we need better quality forwards. And all of our outgoing players are loanees which means we’ll have to go around the houses once again about shifting them on when the season ends and they all come home. Spurs Lodge must be a very cosy place.

    The Fulham debacle was a microcosm of our problems. Playing Pienaar and Modders in midfield is a luxury and robs us of the badly needed ‘fixer’ such as Wilson or Jenas (sic). Defoe is so horribly out of sorts that he is snuffed out at source and the options are threadbare.

    I’d also like Harry to stop going on about our lack of defensive cover. We still have Gallas and Bassong, Corluka has played in the centre of defence for Croatia and has been a stopgap Ch for us before, and haven’t we just signed South Africa’s best CH – someone who played in the World Cup a few months ago – which is more than can be said for 90% of our squad?

    All said and done, we are blessed with two tough but winnable games coming up this month against Blackburn and Bolton. If we lose these then we’d better enjoy the Milan games because Europe will be a fading memory next season.

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    • Thanks for the comments.

      Comolli had a brief at Spurs – to identify players who are young and/or on the way up and secure them at reasonable fees. It was a long-term plan.

      We need someone able to do this, to work to a brief that this time is dictated not by Levy but by the manager. That may include some short-term wins, proven players but the key is, again, the brief – players to play in a certain way, to fulfill a role for the team as defined by Harry.

      This is what we are lacking.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  5. At the risk of being repetitive I don’t think Pav’s yet been played properly, by which I mean, that nobody’s really got on to his wavelength. He’s not a hustler and bustler, he’s a forward who drifts into position out of the reach of defenders and has excellent technique. Supporters of other clubs have told me that they worry when he is playing precisely because his movement is so good, subtle even. Given the ball playing way we now play, with Modric, Raffa, Lennon, Bale (or Kranjcar) he should be much more effective. I agree with your point about the coaching staff and this is something to work on. See how United are using Rooney, Nani, Giggs and Berbatov. Also agree we need a better defensive midfielder. Palacios seems to fail the present set up because his passing is not good enough. Sandro?

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    • Agree absolutely. I don’t think finds it as easy to coach that role as he does with the roles Crouch and Defoe plays, but that could be wrong. I would give Pav an extended run in the team.

      Re Sandro, to me he looks the part and I have high hopes but he has a lot to learn and I’m not sure we can rely on him for such a crucial position when this is our biggest problem. Half a season too early?

      Regards,

      Al

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  6. I agree, i also think we pwill have a fight to get a europa place , we will struggle to keep/attract good players next season due to every body knowing harry will be leaving for the england job.

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  7. Liverpool have applied to the High Court to take over our motto ‘Audere Est Facere’.

    Hardly any ‘Daring’ or ‘Doing’ by our leaders this month.
    Of course it might all end in a spectacular fireball over on Merseyside but perhaps not.

    Harry and Daniel skulking round the market stalls looking for bargains and making late offers does not appeal to the Spanish.
    They like to socialise with intended business partners and deal when they are comfortable. As Benitez showed his many deals were not just about the money but because he understood, being Spanish, the business ethic.

    Your comments about Comolli are refreshing.
    Of the present squad he signed:
    Corluka,Pavlyuchenko,Gomes,Modric,Hutton,Woodgate,
    Kaboul,Bale,Bale,Ekotto, and Berbatov.
    He also signed Bent and Bentley which must prove something.

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  8. Given the players we were linked with, and too high a fee for Carroll, I was not too disappointed to miss out on deadline day. Pienaar was signed a couple of weeks before, which seems a much more sensible way of doing things, and while we need to strengthen up front, there is no need to panic.

    We just need a spurt from one of the forwards. It may happen it may not, although simply buying a club and forward who is willing say yes at the 11th hour is no way to do business. VdV is an exception rather than the rule I imagine.

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