The year is 2013. The unthinkable has occurred. Sir Alex has finally stepped down at United. Spurs have broken their transfer record on a forward. Goal-line technology is set to be used in the Premier League as of next season. Tom Huddlestone has left Tottenham Hotspur. 3 years ago this could have easily been written as a piece of satire with the latter statement seemingly the least likely of the 4.
It's hard to find a suitable starting point with Tom. Although heavily flawed as an all-round centre midfielder, his ability to spot and execute a pin-point pass in the final third always left you lingering with that string of hope that he may build on this to become a prominent player for Spurs and England. Alas, it wasn't to be. There's only so many years you can hope a player will fulfil their 'potential' before admitting that this is about as good as it'll get. A couple of key assists from last year couldn't mask the fact that he didn't quite fit in with a squad now built on pace and power. He almost sat as the Woolworths of our midfield. He couldn't quite tackle or run, but had a nice technique about him.
It's clear we're building a leaner (no pun intended) and more competitive squad. The arrival of Paulinho & the expected arrival of Capoue renders Huddlestone and Parker redundant. They become assets that are needed off of the wage bill and the transfer fees to balance the books. We forever seem to be pushing our limits and stand reluctantly on the brink of finally achieving our season's goals. We fall that player or two short at key points in the season and find ourselves asking 'what if'. 'What if we'd brought in a forward, midfielder or extra defender when we could've'.
Pre-planning and anticipation for such events avoids seemingly knee-jerk and over-priced transfers. We're building a powerful squad of quality, not just a first 11. We forever seem anchored down with 'deadwood' players that act as fillers for those that are injured. I was a big fan of AVB's rotation policy last year and hope to see more of it this year. Although it'll be nice regularly rotating quality players ensuring those coming in will be match-fit and hungry to fight for their place. Competition for places will be ever-increasing this year, especially across midfield.
With another season in the Europa League, players will get the game time they'd desire. Real strength in depth is something we've lacked properly across the years but is key to competing effectively in all major competitions. We finally seem to be jumping on the treadmill this summer and look a far leaner outfit. We've bought in key areas and look to sell those that aren't wanted. The squad will take time to gel as one which may bring with it a slightly slower start than we'd hope. But that's football.
Tom will be wished all the best, maybe even missed at times, but with the ambition we've shown this summer. His name was always going to be one sounded out to other clubs.
Ben - You can follow me on Twitter here