Search This Blog

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Stuck in the shadows.

I'm admittedly writing this with bitterness fighting it's way through my fingers and onto my keyboard. Like a drunk trying to write an apology to his now seemingly ex-girlfriend after a night of antics, I apologise if my words fail to make much more sense and forgive me if they appear deluded.

We've failed to even reach June yet but Abramovich has, apparently, wrapped up the signing of another multi-million pound player. Ahh, there's the cloud to spoil a remarkably bright day. It's almost a given now that any forward, almost without consideration of ability, will cost an 8 figure sum. The days of signing raw gems on a pittance and promoting the younger players have petered out at a staggering rate; this no coincidence owing to the fact that in a similar time period, more money has been pumped into particular clubs and into the Premier League.

Wenger brought in Veira, Fabregas, Toure and Van Persie for a combined total of £6.65m. Can I ever envisage deals like this to ever be brokered again? No. Even if particular regulations regarding the sale of players at a certain age have come into practice, most owners of Premier League football clubs at the helm don't have the patience or the confidence to sign unproven talent on a small fee in the hope they make an impact. There's too much money at stake. Abramovich had hoped, after more than a £50m investment in the youth academy, that these younger players would prosper to become the next Frank Lampard or 'big thing,' (sorry, I had to). He'd hoped to see his investment in transfers reduce by the season as more youth players were brought through the ranks. To this day, this is not the case, and explains why, before the summer window is even open, Abramovich has looked to have spent reportedly another £78m to improve on last year's 6th place finish.

So, with money playing the extra man on the football pitch it puts the rest of us up against a large wall to climb. It forces clubs, such as Spurs, to try and find these talented players and bring them in for not pennies but at an 'affordable' risk. Players such as Vertonghen who looks good value at around £12m. The second problem at the moment is the longer these deals take to go through, the higher the uncertainty. With the Euro's edging nearer, and with my optimism for England to do well in the competition stuck at the same level it was for Spurs finishing third (take it as you will), we face the growing prospect of having our targets snared from under our noses or having ones valuation rocketing because they hit three goals in four appearances. Irritating to say the least.

After Drogba had tucked away the final penalty and I found out I knew many more Chelsea fans than I thought I did, it was positive to read we were already well under-way in approaching our targets. With the expectation of a further summer of uncertainty surrounding the same old player(s), getting our targets in early could only go some-way to convincing the rest that we can make another go at the top 3 positions and a decent cup run. With Chelsea having already strengthened, if we play our transfer window's as we have done in the last 2 seasons we are in danger of falling behind and back into the shadows of our former selves. It just hows a bit of luck- a missed penalty penalties, a poor decision- and suddenly the after-effects of it are monumental. It's almost a blessing Liverpool spent large sums naively last summer but even now they look to have a tied up a new face at the helm. A manager that understands how modern day football should be played and the particular attributes of players to play it.

I said last summer that the season just gone was a key year in our progression. We achieved what we'd set out do at the start of the year but in typical Spurs style still failed to nail down a Champions League spot. Platini's statement concerning the changing of the rule after only coming into play once since 2005 already shows that it's a farce and one has to question why it was put in place in the first instance if there's talk of it being changed already. But it is how it is. We need to focus on tying up our deals early as the teams around us are looking to as well. We don't have a £100m to throw on players every year, but what we do have (at the moment) is a core team of players that have played together for a few seasons now; this is something that can't be purchased in a summer. We seemed to have found a system that works and two, possibly three, clever additions, I believe, will see us enjoy competing just as well as we did this season.

Money will always prosper, Chelsea's history is, and has been, in the process of being made for nearly ten years now and will continue to be for years to come. A side that, unless they increase their stadium allocation or do eventually move, will fail to meet the FFP rules coming into play but, this clearly not being first item on the agenda. There's Sun all around for everyone but, at the moment, Spurs are stuck in the shade.

Enough bitterness for you?


Friday, 11 May 2012

One or two issues.

So we are nearing the end of another season. Another year with Tottenham pulling the strings of the heart as Modric continued pulling the strings in midfield, in a Spurs shirt. We're reaching a pinnacle in Tottenham's progression, or so I believe. A side that has come on 'leaps and bounds' in the last 3 years after taking giant strides negatively immediately post Jol-era. We've assembled a squad capable of a Champions League finish, capitalising on the demise of Chelsea, Liverpool and, to an extent, Arsenal. The top 4 monopoly shattered quicker than our chances of winning the Premier League; cue eye roll.

So, this season will raise a number of questions and many what ifs; including Adebyor and Pienaar. Let's begin.

Without a shadow of a doubt without Adebayor we would not be favourites to finish 4th in the Premier league. He's been an unlikely breath of fresh air in attack and fits brilliantly into our system. His movement, hold up play and willingness to track is something we've lacked for the best part of a few years. He brings others into play and has proved a real team player. Never did I think I'd ever write that paragraph after he'd just put Arsenal 3-1 up at the Emirates a few years back; football eh. 17 league goals and 14 assists (correct me if I'm mistaken) is a fantastic return on a debut season for a forward that, more than likely, wouldn't even make the bench at City. Strikers can go missing in games. Many argue that Ade did in a few games last month but these have proved more of an anomaly than anything. On the face of it, I don't think any other forward we were supposedly in for last summer would've done much better than Adebayor.

I've no doubt Levy will fight tooth and nail to keep Ade permanently, but within reason. I don't expect us to break  the boundaries of our tight wage structure or pay over the odds for him. There's also the reality that his success this season wouldn't have gone unnoticed and would've more than ensured he won't be short of suitors this summer willing to offer him near enough the wages he'll demand. Would I love like to see him here permanently? Yes. Do I think we'll sign him? No. Money will forever shout louder than anything with a mouth.

After an arguably disappointing and rather bleak January transfer window, we let one player go out on loan that has found his element in the Premier League; no, not Sebastian Bassong. Steven Pienaar returned to former club Everton and has since found his feet again. He looks at home. He's playing without the pressure weighing on his shoulders to perform every week in a position that evidently wasn't comfortable.

Pienaar never looked settled at Spurs. I think it's fair to say we had high hopes when Steven arrived last January. A player that looked incredibly consistent for Everton and seemingly versatile in where he could play; just the cover we needed for the number of games that were to face us. Pienaar's best position is probably just behind the forward, an advanced midfielder, possibly in the vdv role. This was a position where game time would always prove limited with vdv cementing his name in that position on the team sheet. There was no doubting Pienaar's effort, he wanted to do well and be a success, but his failure to adapt to playing out wide saw his chances limited in a Spurs shirt; especially after the fantastic run of form we found ourselves in after the Manchester mauling.

It's a shame the transfer of Steven Pienaar didn't really work out; some you win, some you lose. Despite proving to flourish, as expected, at Everton, it would be best to part ways with the midfielder and invest the money into a brighter prospect that better suits our system.

I said in the opening that I feel we're reaching an important time in our progression. After missing out on a Champions League spot last season we were lucky enough to maintain the core of squad whilst improving in certain areas; note Walker, Parker and Adebayor. Missing out on Europe's most prestigious competition for a successive season would bring more uncertainty than certainty for the forthcoming summer. The summer could prove even more so a power struggle to keep hold of our key players and avoid repeating another giant leap backwards of a few season's previously that still haunts us today.

It is not a given right that Spurs 'should' be in the Champions League. Not at all. Complacency like that costs us. We should appreciate the speed in which we have progressed. We finally knocked through the door 2 seasons back after pushing for so hard. But, saying that, it's evident for all to see we do have a squad capable of putting together a successful Champions League campaign. By successful I mean more than able to make the quarter finals. Wow, and I'm the pessimist.

Do I think we'll do it? The way our fortunes have been this season we'll probably finish 4th then watch Chelsea win the Champions League on penalties.