February 1, 2013

January transfer window review

In

Lewis Holtby, 22, Schalke 04

Zeki Fryers, 20, Standard Liège

Out

Carlo Cudicini, Los Angeles Galaxy

Jermaine Jenas, QPR

Soli Coulibaly, FC Grosseto, loan

Yago Falque, UD Almeria, loan

Adam Smith, Millwall, loan

Heurelho Gomes, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, loan

Andros Townsend, QPR, loan

Alex Pritchard, Peterboough United, loan

Simon Dawkins, Aston Villa, loan

Ryan Mason, Lorient, loan

Tomislav Gomelt, RCD Espanyol, loan

 

The ins

Lewis Holtby

The signing of Lewis Hotlby came slightly out of the blue, with his name not having been mentioned a great deal until a few days before the transfer was concluded. Of course, as soon as it was announced that he was to join in summer, everyone wanted him now. I was relaxed about him coming in the summer – I felt that this would allow him to finish off a season which was going well for him, say his goodbyes, and have a full pre-season getting to know his new teammates’ strengths and weaknesses  allowing him to hit the ground running in August.

However, his cameo in the Norwich game has pretty much proved me wrong – he seemed to adapt instantly and gave us the one and two touch footballing spark that we have lacked since Rafael van der Vaart departed. I feel confident that he can have a positive impact on the team between now and the end of the season, but it is worth remembering that he is young – younger than the likes of Sigurdsson, Livermore, Falque, Walker, Rose and Obika – and, therefore we must be careful not to expect too much, too soon.

Zeki Fryers

Zeki Fryers is a punt – he has clearly not been bought to slot into the first team fold, and Tim Sherwood’s comments following the conclusion of his transfer confirmed as much: “Zeki is fully aware that he’s a long way away from being ready for Tottenham Hotspur’s first team. The plan is for him to come in and work hard with the development squad to get to a level – no guarantees – where he could perhaps play for our first team.”

Zeki will fill the left back void in the under-21s, and any progression beyond that will be a bonus.

The outs

Carlo Cudicini

Carlo Cudicini joined Los Angeles Galaxy before the window had even opened, announced on the 31st December. He was well down the pecking order, and it was a good move to get his wages off the books.

Jermaine Jenas

The surprising thing about the Jenas move was that someone was willing to take him, after hugely injury-hit loan spells at Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest over the past two seasons. Jenas has only started two matches in the last two campaigns, and hasn’t played back to back matches since April 2011.

He scored some important goals for Spurs – especially against Arsenal – and will be remembered fondly for those. However, most fans seemed to feel that he never fulfilled his potential, and had a tendency to fade out of games. Personally, I felt that he was a competent footballer, who did not have the knack of decision-making which would have allowed him to achieve more on the pitch. A good pro, though, who always came across as a likeable person, and never complained when he was out of favour. All the best, Jermaine.

Soli Coulibaly

The much-hyped Ivorian has joined FC Grosseto of Serie B on loan. They are based 70km from his previous club, Siena, which may have something to do with the deal (homesick?). There was no mention of a permanent deal at the end of it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if things panned out this way.

Yago Falque

I think the choice of club (UD Almeria) in this transfer is telling – had we been attempting to integrate Yago into Premier League football, we might have looked for a Championship club, or continued using him in the under-21 league. This move implies to me that he is in the shop window in the Segunda Division.

Adam Smith

Adam has been getting plenty of praise for his showings at Millwall, and Villas-Boas indicated that the club would try to get him a Premier League move for the back-end of the season. This hasn’t panned out, though, which I don’t think will bother Adam – he seems settled at Millwall and is playing under a manager who clearly rates him. Kenny Jackett on Smith: “We’re delighted Adam is staying. He’s been a regular at right-back for us and has done very well. We look forward to continuing to work with him and help with his development and football education here.”

Heurelho Gomes

Desperate for game-time, Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga seems a good move, and I wish Gomes well. I presume he will move on permanently in the summer but, funnily enough, he is arguably a more suitable deputy for Lloris than Friedel, being a more similar style of keeper.

Andros Townsend

This is the one move I’m a little disappointed by, as I felt Andros had the potential to offer much-needed wing-cover on either side. However, if he gets regular Premier League appearances, it can only be good for his development.

Alex Pritchard

Peterborough seems a decent fit for Pritchard, a player who has become widely known due to his NextGen Series displays – particularly against Inter two seasons ago, and Barcelona this season. They play a 5-3-1-1, meaning that he could potentially play behind the striker, giving him much-needed freedom to be creative without the shackles of defensive responsibility.

Simon Dawkins

Well this certainly came from the left field! Dawkins is 25 now, and it was widely expected that he’d join San Jose Earthquakes permanently at some point. Perhaps this is his final crack at “making it” in the Premier League. He’s a quick-footed attacking midfield player nowadays and, whilst technically proficient, I do wonder how influential he can be – especially in a struggling side.

Ryan Mason

This is a fascinating move – Mason is certainly ready for a greater test, and I have been surprised not to see more of him on the bench for us. However, a move to Ligue 1’s Lorient could be a stroke of genius. I am reliably informed (by @IainLiddle on Twitter – well worth a follow!) that the club wanted Mason to go to a “technical” league, rather than the Championship, which suits his style perfectly.

Tomislav Gomelt

Little has been seen of Gomelt this season, amid rumours of work permit and contractual issues (I presume he’s actually been injured). He’s looked a promising player on the two occasions that I’ve watched him (the 7-1 thrashing of Inter and pre-season against Kingstonian), and it will be interesting to see whether he makes any appearances for Espanyol’s B team in the third tier of Spanish football, or whether this is another shop window exercise (I hope not!).

The hysteria

The January transfer window seems to send people potty – players, chairman, managers, journalists, and especially fans. The absolute hysteria surrounding the “lack of striker signing” and the apparent chase of Leandro Damiao yesterday was somewhat baffling.

If rumours are to be believed  Spurs have been chasing Damiao for nearly three seasons, and so why anyone thought we would suddenly finalise a deal on the last day of the January window, heaven only knows. It seems to be a very complex deal for many reasons – not least because he is seemingly settled in Brazil – and, such is the level of the player now, I simply can’t see him joining a club that does not have guaranteed Champions League football, and the wages that go with it.

Daniel Levy’s name is mud this morning, having “failed” to land a striker. Apparently he puts the balance sheet before success (and there was I thinking that one largely depended on the other). Apparently we have to speculate to accumulate. Apparently we won’t get 4th spot unless we sign a striker. That may, ultimately, be the case but I can certainly understand why Levy did not throw mega-bucks around in this window.

To improve on our current players, we have to either spend very big or unearth hidden gems. Our squad is at such a level that, to improve upon it, large fees and large wages are generally required. Given that we have just announced a loss (admittedly without the Modric sale, but making profit through selling players is unsustainable anyway), it is more sensible in many ways to see if we can qualify for the Champions League, and then bolster the squad using the additional funds and the prestige of the competition to attract better players –  we all know that the top (top) players want Champions League football.

There’s another point somewhere about Levy being a tough negotiator, and future bargaining positions being lost by caving in at the last-minute, but I’m not going to go there.

The rest of the season

We are 4th. In fact, we are 4th in spite of our two strikers not scoring regularly right now. If just one of them can hit a run of form, perhaps even form a partnership with Holtby (hopefully Ade/Holtby can mimic Ade/vdV from last season) we should be well set to maintain 4th place. To me, 4th place was only an aspiration at the start of the season; we had a new manager implementing new techniques and integrating young players, having lost three vital pieces of the jigsaw in King, Modric and van der Vaart, and coping without three of last season’s best players – Parker, Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto – who were injured. To be at this point, and to still have a chance of 4th is impressive.

Of course there is a chance that one of the strikers may get injured, but not many clubs that want to play with one up front (and that is what AVB will inevitably and rightly move towards) are able to keep three strikers hungry and satisfied – note that Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton, our rivals for 4th, all have just two out-and-out strikers. It is only City and United that seem to have infinite numbers of forwards, and even theirs are versatile and can cover other roles too (e.g. Aguero/Welbeck have both been played wide), making it easier to give them game time.

We have a manager who has made the team greater than the sum of its parts. We have strikers with goals in them if we can utilise them correctly. We have a new signing who galvanised us in the second half against Norwich. We have the ability to push for a Champions League place, with or without a new striker.

Summer wish-list

I’m not saying that I don’t want us to strengthen – of course I do. But, for me, the summer is the most appropriate time to do so – knowing which competitions we’ll be in, how much we have to spend, and having the time to do deals without the last-minute panic setting in.

My areas for strengthening are as follows:

– Wing-forward (two if, as expected, Bale leaves).
– Number 10/trequartista (this could be mitigated if Holtby turns out to be as good as he looked against Norwich).
– Back-up left back.
– Deep-lying playmaker to replace Huddlestone.
– Long-term replacement for Defoe.
– Long-term replacement for Parker.

That’s considerable work, and work best carried out in a carefully planned and measured manner.

 

I’m sure there’s more I want to say, but that’ll do for now. COYS.

Tagged , |

  • OzM says:

    Nicely balanced article Windy and refreshing after the mania of some of the sites!

  • Dannyspur says:

    “it is more sensible in many ways to see if we can qualify for the Champions League, and then bolster the squad using the additional funds”

    “if, as expected, Bale leaves)”

    either of these options would bring in enough cash to have covered the gap between ours and internazionale’s valuation of Damiao and his arrival may have helped secure the first and prevented the second.

    • Sam says:

      “may” being the operative word Dannyspur.

      the flip side being that if “may” becomes “may not” it is a slippery slope thereafter

      If wishes were horses … North London would be arse deep in horse manure on deadline day.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Something tells me it’s not just down to money with Damiao otherwise we’d have got him by now.

  • Hackney Hotspur says:

    Nice article Windy.
    I’m getting a bit bored of all the “Damiao was the only chance of getting CL” comments on some site. He is an unproven striker in European and English football so there are no certainties that he would have hit the ground running. Yes he is a great CF but a summer signing would be preferable.
    Sky Sports New took great delight last night building and building the story up from what is most likely very little, we probably enquired with a bid and left it at that. £20mill is far too much for a player that has never played in Europe or the EPL.
    People seem to also forget, we have a damn good squad, I don’t get the sudden histeria that this window has brought on. We sit 4th, and we’re missing Ade, who, love him or loathe him, adds a lot to our game, be it link up, hold up or occasionally a goal (less occasionally I admit).
    Holtby looks like one helluva player and probably the spark in the final 3rd we have been missing, from what I have seen, it is the final link between the midfield and forwards thats keeps breaking down or hitting the wall of 10 men defences, hopefully Holby is the key.

    HAVE FAITH IN OUR TEAM
    COYS!!!

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Agree with you – think Holtby/Ade is an exciting prospect, but would also like to see Sigurdsson/Dempsey get a few games playing off him, and use Defoe as an impact sub until he starts scoring again.

  • bonse says:

    It’s odd, whenever i go back to watch the really memorable games, the really great performances, there in the middle of the park is Jenas.

    Anyway, a little surprised by Falque and Coulibaly, think we all had high hopes of Coulibaly and in the few matches we saw him I always felt falque stood out.

    Would also like to mention Cudicini, not quite the same after his motorbike accident, but always a great reserve keeper, can’t think of another keeper who could come on to a pitch part way through a match from cold and immediately raise himself to the games tempo, very unusual attribute.

    You make a very good point about how well we are doing despite the set backs, I think one thing Harry did leave us with is a shift in expectation, and while for many it seems to be agonising disappointment if we appear to be beneath it, it does mean that we consistently strive to achieve it. In the past we would have looked at the injury sheet and the exit door and agreed that they were an excuse to miss out on europe again. Overall I feel the ample supply of excuses is something that held us back more than anything in the past two decades.

    Also, was it Pritchard that Liverpool were after? I read he signed a long term contract before the loan deal, if so, that’s a definite statement of intent from club and player alike.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Jenas DID have some good, solid performances across his career (although many won’t allow you to believe it).

      Agree on Falque – thought he was great in the Norwich league cup exit.

      Cudicini – unusual for me, but I disagree. Was never a fan.

  • Spencer says:

    A back up striker such as Hooper would have been a welcome addition to the squad but this was not to be. Having slept on it I now see it as of our rivals spent big so we haven’t lost ground to them player wise. We are 4th by right if we can start scoring again then we should maintain that position

    • WindyCOYS says:

      For me Hooper is not at the level of our other players

      • DaveYid says:

        Sorry but I think there’s a bit of snobbery here when it comes to hooper. He can score. Simple as that. I don’t give a fuck if it’s ‘only Celtic’. A goal is a goal and plent of prem strikers miss the open goals that Hooper would have tapped in.

        Besides, Im not actually annoyed we didn’t get Leandro, I am annoyed that we didn’t get ANY striker to plug the gap which Adebayor’s leaving at the moment being in Africa. This is a make or break season here an the goals just ain’t coming often enough to make a genuine challenge for the top four places.

        3rd was the expectation and it won’t come if we keep missing out on strikers! Goals = Wins = League points. SIMPLE AS.

  • Antilokhos says:

    I’m not so bothered by not bringing in a striker; but I think our biggest issue is Sandro’s injury. I was hoping we would address that.

    While 4th is still very much possible, we now have to thread the needle in terms of injuries and form to accomplish that.

  • Alex Spendley says:

    Ahh context at last! A well balanced and thought out article Windy. It’s been said above but a refreshing change from the panic and mid-directed anger at DL for not bringing in another striker.
    If 2nd half vs Norwich is anything to go by, the quick ball movement and link up between mifield and the forward players holtby brought is exactly what we’ve missed so far this season. He looks quick, strong and intelligent and his scoring record of 29 in 120 odd for Shalke is very impressive.
    Bring on the rest for the season and I’m confident we’ll be right in the mix for CL at seasons end.
    Always a pleasure reading your pieces!

  • @fatfish59 says:

    Good stuff Windy.

    All this fuss over Leandro. Realistically he would not have been effective until next season.

    He has only just started pre-season training back with his club. The Brazilian season doesn’t start until the 3rd week in May. The last season only finished in December.

  • Tom Hayward says:

    Windy,

    Good stuff as ever. I think the main concern with the striker issue is that with neither striker exactly on a hot streak, there is nobody pushing them. The youngsters are promising but not likely to cause concern to Defoe or Ade if we’re chasing fourth and still in the Europa League, a competition AVB (rightly) takes seriously.

    I’m also utterly dismayed with Dempsey – I don’t trust him and I actually don’t like his attitude. I know it takes time to settle and he has scored some important goals – to his credit – but he seems happier being the big fish in a small pond, like he was at Fulham. I’m more impressed with how Sigurdsson has reacted to falling out of favour somewhat – his energy and endeavour when he comes on is really pleasing to see in comparison to Dempsey, who doesn’t seem to compensate for a poor touch with the desire to get the ball back.

    I don’t like criticising our players but I fear this is a bit of a Rebrov – good player, but used totally wrong, and therefore wasted.

    Tom

  • gwasky says:

    Any idea of the wages for the Ins and Outs. Would make a good case/justification given we made a loss last season.

  • Todeski says:

    Windy, are you surprised we didn’t make a run at Negredo if we truly were after a striker? We’ve got more in the kitty than Everton and I think Negredo is a known quantity even if he doesn’t have the potential of Damaio.

  • D Doc says:

    Very balanced view windy, It can b frustrating when there is obvious deficiencies in squad & not just strker options( Alvaro Morata) on loan from Madrid should of been looked at, he can cover wing also, but although we have brought in holtby another creative midfielder would of been nice Ever banega? At the sametime I’m glad levy hasn’t overpaid for Damiao because the simple truth is there’s no guarantee he’d b a success & is seriously overated imo.
    As for summer & presuming bale leaves my target list would b Munian – bale, Ever banega- huddlestone, I think one of the kyles should b sold & Gary medel bought although he’s a cm/dm he has played rb many times & even cb on occasions for Chile.
    With gallas probably gone in summer & need for lb cover I’d look for a utility player who can play anywhere across back4 Martin Caceres would b my pick.
    I think there will b a lot of movement with strikers across Europe in summer & would will b interesting to see what bayern do, gomes will go but not to us but mandzukic if available would b a great signing. As for a young striker one of morata Madrid shawn parker mainz, Kevin volland hoffenheim betinho sporting yassine benzia Lyon.

  • greavesandgilzean says:

    Just a note on Benny. The talk of a switch is I think encouraging: a good player, but one who always panics on the ball at the end of thew game and switches off too many times. I hope AVB has identified this as a weakness to address.

    Excellent article otherwise – though I too thought Negredo would have been a good bet.

  • greavesandgilzean says:

    excellent article.

    I was also encouraged by talk of a switch at left back. BAE is a good player – but not good enough. He panics on the ball at the end of close games, usually just dumping it long; and he switches off too many times.

    good that AVB apparently recognizes a non-obvious weakness

    dont however agree that Ade adds much. he ALWAYS wants too many touches (often bad ones at that) to play the fast moving soccer we’re trying to play, leaving aside lack of goals.

  • Andy says:

    Great stuff windy. Just one question, if we get Champions league, do you really think Bale will leave? I can’t see it happening, because the way I see it no team has the combination of the money to buy him and the need for a player like him

  • Andersgc says:

    “Cover for Left Back” ?
    Rose has been absolutely destroying it at Sunderland, getting him back after this season, I’m pretty sure he could be a very good player for us in years to come if we manage to use him well.

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