January 10, 2010

Our squad and the transfer window

Before the start of the season, I wrote an article where I assessed our squad. In this article (which was written before Bassong joined), I said that I was largely satisfied with our squad, and hoped that Harry didn’t tinker too much. With the window open again, I very much hope we adopt this approach.

Our squad is strong, and growing in strength from week to week, as the players get used to the system and to one another. Players like Bassong, Huddlestone, and even Kranjcar have surpassed expectation this year, and this means that the squad is even stronger than we thought.

Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini, Ben Alnwick, Jimmy Walker
Right back: Vedran Corluka, Alan Hutton, Kyle Naughton
Left back: Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale
Centre back: Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Dawson, Sebastian Bassong
Right midfield: Aaron Lennon, David Bentley, Giovani Dos Santos
Left midfield: Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar
Central midfield: Wilson Palacios, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane, Roman Pavlyuchenko

(Jamie O’Hara due to return on 15th January.)

The only reason I see that we would need to buy in this window is if others leave. For example, it currently seems likely that at least one of Pavlyuchenko, Bentley or Hutton will go. We could probably cope with the loss of one of them without bringing someone in, as we have players who can adapt to cover (e.g. Kranjcar/Modric/Giovani can play on either wing, Naughton can play in either full back position, and we have players who can play “off” a main striker). However, were more than one player to leave, we would probably need another body.

Many fans are saying that now is the time to strengthen – that we have fourth, and that it’s down to us to lose it (which incidentally isn’t strictly true, because Man City are two points behind with a game in hand). My first point to those who feel this way would be that we have clearly benefited from a settled team (as illustrated by my post about our clean sheets) and changing this is a risk that, in my opinion, is not worth taking. My second point is let’s not run before we walk. We’ve started this season very well, but we are still a young team which has not had the benefit of a team like, for example Aston Villa or Liverpool, of having been together for a few seasons. You also then have the wild card Man City to consider. I still think that Europa Cup qualification is a sensible aim, and I’d personally be very happy with that given the disappointment of last season.

NOTE: just as I write this article, Kranjcar is quoted as saying: “we might have the best squad in the league”!

Since Harry Redknapp arrived:

Left (23, plus 5 Academy players)
Paul Stalteri, Hossam Ghaly, Cesar Sanchez, Andy Barcham, Charlie Daniels, Alex Olsen, Leigh Mills, Kieran McKenna (retired), Darren Bent, Didier Zokora, Chris Gunter, Ricardo Rocha, Pascal Chimbonda, Gilberto, Kevin Prince Boateng, Simon Dawkins, Kyle Fraser-Allen, Cian Hughton, Danny Hutchins, David Hutton, Jacques Maghoma, Takura Mtandari and Yuri Berchiche, plus Academy players Yaser Kasim, Saulo Asajile, Mark Clare, James Dalton and Ajet Shehu.

Joined (11)
Jermain Defoe, Wilson Palacios, Carlo Cudicini, Pascal Chimbonda, Robbie Keane, Niko Kranjcar,
Sebastien Bassong, Peter Crouch, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Walker, Jimmy Walker

Redknapp brought in five players in January last season, and six over the summer.

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  • Anonymous says:

    I see what you’re saying but you seem to ignore the fact that as a squad, competing in this current season, Cudicini is long term out giving us no satisfactory backup for Gomez. Woodgate is currently out for the forseeable future and King – well we all know the story by now. Ekotto’s having an operation instead of going to the ACN (I dont know the forcast for how long that leaves him out) leaving us with Bale, who admits himself he needs to improve at his defending and while he is good going forward the culmination of all these things means our defence is weakening all the time.
    Harry reckons we’re a bit light in CM and I’d possibly agree except there are a few possibilities – modders and Kranjcar – either could play in off the left allowing both to play together; Keane could play as an attacking midfielder in a 3 striker system – just possibilities.
    All in all I can’t complain too much about our striker situation – there is good backup there and Dos Santos has done and can play as a striker (he’s even listed as a striker on the club’s website) but the defensive side just leaves me a bit uneasy

  • Windy says:

    Absolutely take your point about centre back, and think a decision will have to be made on King (and Woodgate for that matter) at the end of the season, but for now we have Corluka and Huddlestone who can cover. I still think Bassong is “raw” as a player, and think we will sign a long-term replacement for King in the summer, but for now I think we can cope with what we have there.
    At left-back, do we really want to go signing another player who will then knock Bale further down the pecking order when Assou-Ekotto is back in 3 weeks time? He will eventually get fed up and leave if he doesn’t get decent chances. For the mean time, we have Naughton, Bassong and even O’Hara as cover there, I’m satisfied with that.
    Central midfield is another matter. I’d personally be happy to see O’Hara come back as competition, but I think he’s decided that his future lies elsewhere, and I would imagine that Sandro will join at some point to replace him. A short-term signing would be pointless so, again, I’d be happy for us to wait it out.

  • Anonymous says:

    yes i totally agree with what you are saying why should we buy a short term midfielder because we will buy sandro in the summer and ohara can cover until then. but i think in the summer we should keep ohara and get rid of jenas. also we should get rid of hutton, bentley, pav, and maybe keane for the right price. so then we get one good striker and a youngster like obika or perkart. also why dont we get adel taarbt back as hes been brill at qpr.

  • Anonymous says:

    We have no replacement for Defoe. None of our other strikers have the pace to run beyond the last defender and without him, we play in front of the opposition defence and become predictable and easier to defend against.If he is injured or suspended, our offensive capabilities will be damaged.
    Not sure how well we would cope without Lennon or Palacious. Lets hope we do not have to find out!
    Apart from these 3, we appear to have adequate cover for all outfield positions.

  • Anonymous says:

    dear oh dear, we have no striker who can score against tight defences, no pacy winger when Lennon’s out, only Hudd and Wilson of any merit in central midfield, goodness only knows how we’d cope if either got injured, no cover keeper of any quality, two cover full backs of limited experience who could struggle and in Bale one who definitely struggles defensively, Woody out for no one knows, King an irregular player these days so Daws and Bassong -who’s done well but still looks a bit raw, if either got injured it would be Hudd or Charlie who are needed where they are
    How on earth can you honestly think we don’t need strengthening. We havven’t settled for mid table we are supposedly trying to nick a CL place we have to strengthen or miss out

  • Anonymous says:

    you have included Gio dos Santos in your list of players. Yet, the only reason he is being kept is that Levy wants to make money from his sale in the summer, after the world cup, where he is expected to shine for Mexico. Gio will get no more than 10 to 20 minutes in all the remaining games of the season, simply because Redknap dislikes him, and because he supposedly could outshine the Croats. As far as Spurs’ management is concerned, Gio’s career is of no interest. Money is what matters.

  • Anonymous says:

    I mostly agree. However, I think if we can get Sandro in this Jan it will be a good move. He’s coming from South American football, so it would help to to have half a season to find his feet, then a pre-season, and hit the ground running next season, rather than that being a “bedding in” season. Even Berbs needed a few months to get used to the pace of the Prem. But apart from that, you’re right. This window is about shipping out players we don’t need. Namely: Pavs, Bentley, Hutton. We should save the money to spend in the summer.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think we shoud sign a keeper, if Gomes gets injured it will cost us 4th place not to have a good back up, so why gamble? Cudicini hasn’t been a great signing anyway so we definitely need to strengthen that area. We should also sign another centre back at the end of January if Woodgate does not have a comeback in sight, again it’s not worth the gamble. We should keep O Hara, or at least have the option to recall him if he goes out on loan again. Dos Santos is always an option to replace Defoe for pace to get behind a defence. All in all, we do have one of the best squads in the league and that’s why we are currently 4th, the table never lies!

  • Anonymous says:

    I would like to point out that 4th position is actually in our hands, if man shity win their game in hand they will be a point ahead of us. Theoretically if both teams won their remianing games man shity would finish 1 point above us. BUT we have to play each other so if we win that game and all the others we then finish 2 points above them. So therefore it is in our hands 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Read on New of The World that Berbaflop is flopping so badly, he has incurred the wrath of suralex. Dunno if it’s true that he has a long standing knee problem that needs operating, because manc are really short of attacking options now. perhaps, in my fantasy world, we could trade pav for berba, he just isn’t cutting it up there are soldtrafford.

  • Anonymous says:

    Bale really needs to improve, and we do need a central defender and defensive midfielder. Jenas can go, but I’m not too sure about O’hara, but I hope we can give him a chance. Seems like the problem he wants to stay in Pompey is because he doesnt really feel wanted in spurs.

  • Anonymous says:

    ON WHAT BASIS IS DOS SANTOS A REPLACEMENT FOR DEFOE ? HE HAS NEVER PLAYED THAT POSITION FOR BARCELONA, SPURS OR MEXICO.
    IF WE LOSE DEFOE THE WHEELS ARE LIKELY TO FALL OFF.

  • Anonymous says:

    I take what you are saying only one problem when wilson and defoe have been missing in the past we can’t win games and either draw or loose remember what happened during defoe’s three match ban -no wins and Arry himself said the ban cost us points so why are people saying we are strong in all areas.We look strong but actually we are average and a hungry team fighting for promotion will beat us without defoe and if wilson was missing our cover is piss poor-Jenas the guy spurs fans love to hate .I think someone said about Gomes who takes his place Alnick remember his game in the carling cup and you say we have plenty of cover what tripe.All i hear is of people talking of if we can nick 4th,what about 1st.With the right players in Levy could turn this season into one of amazing turnarounds.We are maybe 5 players short of having a shot a winning it as we have all the top teams to play again and most are at home.Get the players now while manure,chelski and the scum all stutter and we could win it ,don’t get the players and we could loose 4th and miss the chance of a lifetime.Go for it Levy stuff the summer get them now and sell the dead wood ,bring in parker(if he’s fit)Jones and Rudd get the guy Lovern(croat) get a young keeper or james if that fails and sell Jenas,Hutton,Bentley Pava and O’Hara and if needs must Keane and we will make up the 7 points because the others above us don’t look unbeatable spend a little live a lot for things we can’t afford there is always mastercard so go on Levy get it out for gods sake man you blind idiot.

  • Anonymous says:

    It sounds to me like a few people are panicking a little bit over the current state of our squad. Maybe it’s because we are in the best position we have ever been in to break the top 4?

    We have never had this before and so this is all new and there is a fear of letting the transfer window go by with little activity, we could shoot ourselves in the foot and slowly see fourth spot fall from our grip (as I suspect we will), especially when you consider our final few fixtures most notably Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd all in a row.

    And so while we need to prepare for the second half of the season and use this transfer window to our advantage we also need to be careful not to disrupt the balance of the squad. Yes I agree that Bentley, Pav, Hutton, Alnwick and even maybe JJ’s days are numbered and the sooner we get them off the wage bill and funds in the bank the better, however I’m not sure if we need to go out and buy another four or five players in each area of the park.

    Personally the area of most concern for me is the defence, yes I know we have kept four clean sheets without Woodgate or King but it is a long old season and I personally would like to see the above five mentioned shipped out, O’Hara brought back for midfield and a youth striker sat on the bench hungry for his chance rather than a 60K a week International who has lost his confidence and hunger. This leaves the defence, personally I would like to see Harry test West Ham with a bid for Upson, they need the cash and he is a tried and tested Prem player with Engalnd caps. I would feel quite comfortable with King and Woodgate being out knowing that Dawson and Upson were holding the fort with Bassong on the bench. That leaves the GK as mentioned I would get rid of Alnwick and bring in Joe Lewis as cover for Gomes, still young enough not to get the hump about sitting on the bench but clearly rated very highly even by Mr Capello considering a recent squad call up.

    All in all I see that as squad strengthening without any major disruption going into the second half of the season, it would also leave a nice amount in the kitty for Redknapp to re-asses the squad in the summer and maybe even pick up some outstanding unheard offs from the World Cup as I’m sure like always there will be a few outstanding players putting themselves in the shop window during the summer.

  • Windy says:

    Anonymous last “poster” – I think you make some excellent points. I agree with your concerns about centre back, but King is currently fit enough to play once a week, and with Bassong in reserve, I hope that that will be enough to get us through the last 5 months of the season. Obviously an injury to Dawson or Bassong would cause problems, and could result in Corluka moving to centre back (which is far from ideal) but, touch wood, both have been relatively injury-free over the last few years. Come the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if we decided that King and Woodgate aren’t reliable enough anymore, and signed a long-term replacement for one or both. Personally, I think Dawson is growing as a player, and I’d be happy to have him as one of our first choice centre backs. A good partner for him could be picked up in the summer (although I personally would rather not take Upson), with Bassong, Corluka, and Steven Caulker, who is excelling at Yeovil, and looks to me to be a player with all the tools required, as back up.

    A reserve keeper would be a sensible move, as I don’t think Cudicini, Alnwick or Walker are good enough, but buying a “reserve keeper” is a risky move, as we’ve shown with Cudicini (who cost us a few goals earlier in the season). If we can, we should aim for a promising young goalkeeper who can aim to challenge Gomes.

  • Anonymous says:

    There is absolutely no need to touch our starting XI (Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, BAE, Palacios, Hudd, Lennon, Modric, Kranjcar, Defoe and their regular subs Bale, King, Woodgate, Keane, Crouch, Gio, Rose, Naughton), but can anyone seriously say that Pav, Bentley, Hutton, Jenas, Taraabt have a real future at WHL? The changes that are needed are on the squad level. I’d bring in Lewis or Loach as present and future backup for Gomes. I’d also do what I could to get in Richards as I think he could really help out right across the back and makes Hutton surplus to requirements. If Sandro is just waiting for paperwork, there’s no sense signing cover unless it’s on loan. (not gonna happen) Lastly, I’d get in Jones from Sunderland as I feel he could push both Crouch and Defoe and could be an all round better striker than either. Before anyone starts going on about how great and irreplaceable Defoe is look at the numbers – strip out Hull and Wigan and he has a mere 6 goals in 16 PL games and his Red Card cost us huge. Not good enough for Keane so why is it good enough for Defoe? Defoe is good enough if we play with 5 MF which I would argue we should be doing. Other than that, we can do better at striker than a very uni-dimensional striker who doesn’t seem to link up well with anyone. COYS – don’t touch the core, but get us ready for the future with four competitions next year.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you think Defoe is nothing special, take a look at our results when he was banned. We were unable to adequately replace him for those matches so consequently he was irreplaceable for those games and would be again if he gets injured/suspended later in the season.
    Are you seriously suggesting Keanes performances are on a par with Defoes this season ?
    Our chance to break top 4 is now. Next season gets tougher with Man City spending even more and their signings bedding in.

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