Tottenham Hotspur That Was The Season That Was. The Future

The final piece of four wrapping up the season, delayed by a few mishaps but here finally

So let’s pull this all together. I’ve looked back at the players, the team and the manager. It’s been a positive season with unforgettably cracking football and the blazing thrill of the Champions League tainted by the frustration of what might have been. The goal is to keep the positives, learn from our mistakes and put them right next year. Get it right and the prospects take the breath away. This is the best squad we’ve had for twenty or thirty years. Well placed financially, without the riches of the the top four but unencumbered by debt, the potential is staggering.

This summer is a watershed period for the club. Lurking in the background are the imperatives of history – Spurs’ saga of unfulfilled expectations and the unerring capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Chairman Daniel Levy and manager Harry Redknapp have momentous decisions ahead of them that could cement the foundations of a top class team for years to come or signal a slide back to midtable mediocrity. It’s that big a deal:. the season ahead of us isn’t just about rebuilding, certainly not another transitional season. This is a once in a generation opportunity that we must seize with both hands.

The most significant decision in the transfer market is not the purchase of a new striker, despite our desperate need for goals. It’s keeping four top class footballers: the divine Luka Modric, one of the finest midfielders I’ve seen at Spurs, Gareth Bale, Rafa van der Vaart and Sandro. Europe may have given us glory: it was also one long advert for the brilliance of these players.

There’s no irresponsible ITK in these pages but this summer there will be an auction between Chelsea and Manchester Untied for Modric. Accounts vary: some say he’ll stay, others that he wants to go. The reality is both are true: I believe he is happy here but every player in the world would consider CL football at double the salary, which is what both clubs would give him. And that’s not including the rest of Europe.

Some say Bale is at his peak and think what we could do with the inflated fee. Madness: no reason at all to dispose of talent like his whose career has only just begun. VDV is not so much in demand but again there’s quick profit to be had with a sale. Sandro is the dark horse that few are mentioning. However, his best games have been against Milan, therefore in full view of Europe’s top clubs, he’s young and to my mind has got the lot. The star of the new era of Brazilian football will be in demand.

As ever Levy is the key. How he deals with that auction and whether he bites will determine the future of the club. £30 or £40m could revitalise our buying power but I would not sell any of them under any circumstances, for this quartet are the bedrock of our future. They are here now, they know each other’s game, they know the club. Build on this continuity, not destroy it. Sadly, I give some credence to the rumours that Modric and Bale have been touted around. I sincerely, desperately hope I’m wrong. Both are so wonderful they make the game a thing of beauty and awe.

The money for new players has to come from elsewhere and not necessarily by reckless firesales. We have to take the hit on Keane, Hutton and Bentley but I would not sell players like Kranjcar, Jenas, Palacios and Bassong, back-up men currently, without ensuring we have replacements in the bag. If they left, I wish them well but won’t lose any sleep. What this does mean is that Levy must decide soon about our own Big Four. Wait until deadline day and we could be left with nothing.

Next, Redknapp has to decide how we are going to play then buy players who fit the bill. As Modric blossomed and VDV arrived unexpectedly, HR’s oh so English big man-little man combo looked old-fashioned. We have to get two pacy, alert strikers who can both score and bring others into the match, not necessarily bag a hatful of goals, the assists total is almost as significant. They may not play together often. This season people have said Rafa doesn’t fit in but I would play around his skills, so that’s a free role off a single striker with another attacking midfielder to cover for him. Kranjcar would be ideal despite my misgivings about his efforts but looks like he’s on his way. Lennon may not have the luxury of being both a winger and a regular starter. However, variety and variation are essentials in what could be a season of over 60 matches in very different situations. Whoever, we must score more from midfield.

Another centre half is likely, preferably one with a bit of pace. Kaboul could well make a breakthrough into top class. Friedel is a decent signing. Free, solid, capable, he’ll either give Gomes a gee-up or compete with a replacement as well as providing cover. Again I’d be in no rush to sell Gomes: we must avoid the mistakes of L’arse and ensure that if we buy, it’s a genuine upgrade.

Whoever we buy, they must have two qualities: the ability to keep possession and the bloody-minded focus on being a winner as epitomised by Willy Gallas. This is what we’ve learned during our travails in Europe and at the top of the league.

Finally, let’s not forget the overall plan that got us here. Several years ago more out of necessity than design, we started to identify, buy and nurture talent for the future. It’s not been smooth by any means and many have fallen by the wayside but here we are with Bale, Modric, Hud, BAE, Lennon and now Rose. We must think now about the next crop. it takes time and no little agony as we watch their growing pains but it’s worth it.

So it could be a momentous window as make our plans, but ironically not in the way I envisage because two crucial matters totally beyond our control could scupper the whole voyage. Redknapp’s tax case could at best leave him tainted, at worst a criminal, while if Capello keeps this up, England could come calling sooner rather than later. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to it already.

Tottenham On My Mind will be here during the summer as and when. Many thanks to everyone who has visited the blog this past season, especially those of you who have taken the time and trouble to make the comments section so vibrant. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments

19 thoughts on “Tottenham Hotspur That Was The Season That Was. The Future

  1. Good summation for me. I worry more about Modric leaving than Bale but wouldn’t like to see either of them go. Think the comments on our development policy are very important. It’s vital that Walker goes into our first team squad next year and we need to see some of the other young players on loan making some appearances. I am worried that Joe Cole is being touted as a Spurs player when we are likely to sell Kranjcar who is better. I hope we concentrate on signing two quality strikers and aren’t distracted by signing more midfield players.

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  2. I cannot tell you how much I and my husband have enjoyed your blog. Your writing is truly beautiful and your passion for Spurs courses through your writing. I saw my first match in 1960 when I was ten, during the 70’s I was a regular at their matches. I took my future husband to see his first league football match at Spurs (he was always a non league supporter). It was the first home match with Ossie and Villa at WHL and there was a long queue. I cannot tell you how many times he threatened to go home due to the wait. On emerging into the stands and seeing the wonderful turf, the atmosphere and the game, he was won over! He is now as passionate as I am. We saw THE Rickie Villa goal at Wembley, and we were lucky enough to be able to take my father, then in his 70s, to see Spurs win the cup the next time. His first and only FA cup final. My Dad is no longer around, and we no longer live in London, but watch Spurs on the TV whenever they appear. I am sorry this is so long, but I have been wanting to let you know for ages how much we have enjoyed your blog. It makes us feel as though we are at the matches. No matter what Levy or Redknapp do to the fans, we will always support the lads. Cannot wait for the start of the next season and look forward to reading your thoughts when you are able to find the time. Take care and thank you.

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    • Well.

      You’re very kind, and I’m humbled.

      I was at that Ossie and Ricky game. The expectation, the tickertape, the World Cup winners…the defeat. 4-1 was it, without looking it up.

      The way your husband felt that time – it’s the way I feel every game….

      More of the same next season.

      Kind regards,

      Al

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  3. I personally screamed for Luka to be placed in the middle and Sandro when he arrived to join him above Hudd. Pienaar was a waste; coming from a South African. Nico a thousand times better. O’Hara as well. Give keen the captaincy and play him. Get proper striker in and sell someone else. Crouch maybe. We need backup at leftback. Rose can cover Bale and bring in Walker and Naughton. We will do well next season.

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    • Harry took a while to settle Luka in the middle and there he’s stayed. To be fair, Sandro wasn’t ready to begin with, and Keane’s gone, nothing to offer us now. Dawson’s our leader. I hear Naughton won’t be a part of things but looking forward to seeing Walker again.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  4. Just a quick thank-you for your efforts – it’s by far the best written football blog I’ve seen. And I agree with nearly everything you say…
    Though I rarely get along to see the matches these days, I started going to WHL in the late fifties – a shilling at the turnstiles, tuppence for a programme – happy days!

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  5. wonderful blog, just started reading about halfway through the season.

    i agree with all the points you made above, especially concerning Rose and Walker. would love to see them get some runs in the first team. now, my major gripe is concerning transfer dealings. since the window has opened, i’ve heard about links with two players; Scott Parker and Joe Cole. i’m fine with Parker, i don’t really see where he’d fit into the team, but he seems like a classy player and i have no arguments with signing him. but Joe Cole? bad enough that the midfield is already loaded, but what is the basis of trying to get him? he didn’t even play all season! and beyond that, they need STRIKERS. not more midfielders.

    i’ve heard talk of bids for Leandro Damiao and Pablo Osvaldo, neither of whom i’ve seen play but i have heard relatively good things about. i’d prefer a more established name, or even a more established name and a relatively anonymous one, but i’m a bit iffy if they go out and spend money on just one relatively anonymous guy.

    i’d love to see Rossi or Cavani or even Benzema (wishful thinking, i know).

    thoughts?

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    • Thanks friend, I’m pleased you found me.

      The links to Parker have the ring of truth. i watched him a lot on TV last season, he’s an excellent player who will fit in well and would be a good buy at the right price. he wouldn’t be in my first choice team – Sandro no question – but we have to get away from the idea of playing the same line-up and formation every week because we have so many games potentially in many different circumstances. However, I wouldn’t get into a bidding war for him – other teams will look at him as first choice, captain even, and so will pay way over the odds for a man of his age.

      The Cole rumour is unfounded, according to the original (and genuine) source – Liverpool want to get rid of him and so are spreading rumours.

      We undoubtedly need a striker – as I said above, 2 in my view. This year I’ve not watched enough football to offer an opinion on the names you mentioned. We might go for the option of one young buck, one experienced man. We’ll have to pull out a plum from the up and coming men because established players will look to CL prestige and money.

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  6. A great season all round from you Alan – mixed from the club!!
    We need to have no “off the pitch” activity next year, hopefully ‘Arrys court case will be all over, and we can make some constructive moves on the new ground.

    As for the selling of players, I have always been a believer that if you sell a player, say Modric for £30 mill, that it takes £30 mill to get the equivalent. There are the surprise buys and the ever rarer youth team player coming through, but for me it is simple, if a player is valued at £30 mill and another at £15 mill, the £30 mill one is better?

    Have a good summer (as I write it is chucking it down here!)

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    • Thanks Simon. I believe that if you get a player as good as Luka, one you spotted when young and have nurtured for a few years until he becomes, well, as good as Luka is, keep him. Keep him at all costs because it will be a long time before another gem like that comes along.

      Read Simon’s blog, good people. It’s rather good.

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  7. Thought provoking piece Alan.

    I am very concerned about the standard of player being linked with us, however. Parker, Friedal and J Cole are downgrades on what we have for me. I am not so convinced Redknapp has learned the lesson of rotation, though he’ll be keener in the EL than the CL I suppose. I reckon Parker will start ahead of Sandro if he comes or Harry’ll move Modric left to accomodate him. I like Pienaar, we haven’t seen his Everton form yet, but a very useful player across the midfield for me. I like Krnajcar too but that ship seems to have sailed.

    Still, I agree that we have entered a crucial period in out history. Some positive news on a new stadium and a few (not loads) select signings for key positions, and the retention of the Holy Quadruple will see us sail into next season. Last minute transfer capers and the loss of Modric or Bale and a plethora of ex West Ham and Chelsea past its or makeweights won’t. I don’t think Harry is the man for the next stage. I hope I am wrong of course.

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  8. Also, I enjoyed your post Marion June 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm.

    Happy summer Alan, not only the best Spurs blog, also the best writing on Spurs anywhere in any medium.

    Thanks

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  9. As a regular reader and occasional commenter, I’d like to join in the praise offered to you by almost all the commenters here… you certainly are the best blogger when it comes to Spurs and I also have great memories of the double team and (wonder of wonders!) being able to walk from one enf of WHL to the other! Can you imagine that, now??
    You certainly hit the nail on the head when you said that Bale Modric, vd V and Sandro should be the bedrock of our team for the immediate future.
    Have a great Summer Alan, and look forward to everything you have to share with us.

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    • Listen, I’m old enough to remember how you could walk round the Lane!

      Thanks for the kind words and look forward to seeing you next season too.

      I will be writing during the summer as things crop up.

      Regards, Alan

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      • Not confident that we won’t cash in on Bale,
        or that we won’t be forced by Modric himself to sell.
        But then I’m a miserable old git at the best of times.

        But the mood around the Club is obviously
        not as upbeat as last year.
        Now is the time for the supporters to stand up as well as the players
        and I don’t mean slavish support for Harry
        but meaningful analysis and passion.
        As we get on here and not from just you Alan.
        Good crowd on here.

        Walk all the way round round The Lane ?.
        I remember when it was all open fields.

        I salute you, the Bloggers blogger.

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