If Spurs fans had been offered a fifth place finish and a quarter-final appearance in the club’s maiden Champions League campaign at the beginning of the season, some fans may have bitten that hand off. Others, however, may have felt differently.
Manager Harry Redknapp claimed that the club couldn’t have had a better season than last, which is a lie considering they came fourth the season before. A shocking statistic is that if Spurs had won all their games against the bottom six (they won four of the twelve) they would have been crowned league champions with the 2-1 win over Birmingham City on the last day of the season.
However, as things turned out, Roman Pavlyuchenko’s brace did nothing more but cement a fifth placed finish for the North London club. Now, the re-building process begins once more. On the other hand, once the Premier League season ends, the silly season begins. Spurs have been linked with a host of big name moves but what is important now is clearing out the deadwood and bringing in the players that will turn a top five finish into a top four one.
Friedel signed, sealed and (soon-to-be) delivered
Manager Harry Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy made a quick start to the window by plugging a leaky gap in goal. Heurelho Gomes has constantly been defended by the Spurs faithful. However, a series of high-profile errors quickly turned those defenders into attackers and a supposed back injury at the end of the season saw Carlo Cudicini come in for the Brazilian.
Gomes has now issued a come-and-get-me plea to former club PSV and Redknapp appears happy to let the 30-year-old leave in the coming months. Brad Friedel’s signature on a two-year deal will further push the Brazilian towards the White Hart Lane departure lounge after Spurs secured the the former Villa, Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers on a Bosman transfer. With Cudicini also signing a one-year extension to his current deal, it looks as though Redknapp has now settled his goalkeeping options.
Bolstering the defence
In regards to the back four, not much needs to be altered. It’ll be more of who needs to leave rather than who needs to come in. Ledley King made an instrumental return to the starting XI at the end of the season and will be hoping to add to his current deal which runs out at the end of next season. William Gallas signed a new two-year deal after a series of impressive performances alongside captain Michael Dawson while Younes Kaboul has improved tremendously since his first spell with the club.
A fit King is a huge asset!
This leaves both Jonathan Woodgate and Sebastien Bassong out in the cold. Bassong has already admitted he is looking to leave Spurs this summer with two potential suitors in the form of QPR and Stoke City. However, the future of Woodgate is less than clear. 31 minutes of football in 16 months isn’t ideal for a club looking for stability at the back and as good as he is on his day, it is about time Spurs look beyond Woodgate and cut their losses on the former Newcastle and Real Madrid defender.
It is the doubts over the fitness of Woodgate and King that will see Redknapp dip into the market for a new centre-back. The club have been linked with moves for Ryan Shawcross and Christopher Samba this week and either or both would be fantastic signings for the club.
Now, moving out wide to the full-backs. No major activity required here with both Kyle’s, Walker and Naughton, set to re-join from their respective loan spells with Aston Villa and Leicester City while the re-emergence of the once forgotten Danny Rose – the same Danny Rose who scored that goal against Arsenal – performing admirably in the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto at left-back. The only bit of business here will most likely be the sale of Alan Hutton who after briefly flirting with a return to the first team lost his place to Vedran Corluka once more in the tail-end of the season.
Spurs fans can expect a major clear-out across the whole midfield this summer. Jamie O’Hara, Giovani Dos Santos, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Wilson Palacios and Niko Kranjcar are all expected to leave in the coming months to free up funds for both wages and transfers. Reports have suggested that Scott Parker has favoured a move to White Hart Lane over Arsenal and Liverpool after West Ham United conceded defeat in their attempts to keep the FWA Player of the Year at Upton Park.
The main objective will be to keep Player of the Year Luka Modric at the club after increased interest from Manchester United and Chelsea while adding world class talent to the squad. The hype surrounding Gareth Bale has dwindled since the pre-transfer window gossip while nothing concrete has been reported surrounding top scorer Rafael Van der Vaart.
Re-vamping a miss-firing front-line
The current crop should all be fearing for their Spurs careers after a season which saw the strikers fail to score the goals needed to propel Spurs back into the top four. Jermaine Defoe was complaining about a lack of first team football which would be understandable if he was producing the goods and not firing blanks. Unfortunately for Defoe, if he isn’t scoring goals, he brings very little to the team. Redknapp should cut his losses and look to find a replacement that can bring more to the starting XI than the pint-sized England man.
Is Defoe’s time up?
Robbie Keane is also expected to be shown the exit door after failing to nail down a starting spot and a failed loan move to West Ham United will see the Ireland international return to Spurs with a snowball’s chance in hell of making the starting XI.
The decision on what to do with both Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko has been a cause for debate over recent weeks. Both bring different aspects to their game but fail to deliver the full package. Pavlyuchenko can score goals as could be seen on the last day of the season but he is infuriating to watch and often criticised for his lack of pace, weak physical ability – both, on and off the ball – and consistently laid-back attitude. However, his ability to score goals is the best out of all four of the current quartet.
Crouch, on the other hand, works a hell of a lot harder and brings that ability to hold the ball up to the game. His exploits in Europe haven’t gone un-noticed and had he not had a moment of madness against Real Madrid, the two-legged affair could have been a whole lot different. However, he, more often than not, will fail to convert even the easiest of chances but will bring other players into the game. Van der Vaart’s impressive start to his Spurs campaign was down to Crouch knocking the ball down to the Dutchman. So perhaps, Crouch adds more than Roman; whether Harry sees it that way is a whole different story.
Keane is dead certain to leave the club this summer and could well be joined by Defoe and either of Pavlyuchenko or Crouch. Their replacements are a little harder to predict however. Spurs have been linked with a host of strikers including Didier Drogba, Leandro Damiao, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero, Giuseppe Rossi and Diego Forlan to name a few.
Internacional’s Leandro looks the most likely to join first with Spurs expected to come back with an improved offer after having a £10.6m bid re-buffed. Redknapp would also like to add an experienced head to his front-line and has expressed an interest in Drogba. The main stumbling block will be the player’s wages and Chelsea’s reluctance to let one of their players join a rival club, especially if Modric isn’t thrown into the equation.
Either way, the front-line will be improved dramatically this summer and while the exit door is likely to be in use more than the entrance, “Quality, not quantity” must be the theme of the summer at White Hart Lane.
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