Assessing our squad
Personally I’m quite pleased with the relatively modest amount of transfer activity so far at White Hart Lane.
So far, our dealings stand as follows:
In: Peter Crouch, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Walker.
Out: Darren Bent, Didier Zokora, Chris Gunter, Ricardo Rocha, Gilberto, Simon Dawkins, Kyle Fraser-Allen, Cian Hughton, Danny Hutchins, David Hutton, Jacques Maghoma and Takura Mtandari, plus Academy players Yaser Kasim, Saulo Asajile, Mark Clare, James Dalton and Ajet Shehu.
Out on loan: Ryan Mason, Steven Caulker (both Yeovil Town), David Button (Crewe Alexandra), Adel Taarabt (QPR), Troy Archibald-Henville (Exeter City), Ben Alnwick (Norwich City), Kyle Walker (Sheffield United).
With Pascal Chimbonda also expected to leave before the deadline, we’re left with a fairly healthy squad:
Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini, Oscar Jansson
Right back: Vedran Corluka, Alan Hutton, Kyle Naughton
Left back: Benoit Assou–Ekotto, Gareth Bale
Centre back: Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Dawson, Dorian Dervite
Right midfield: Aaron Lennon, David Bentley, Giovani Dos Santos
Left midfield: Luka Modric
Central midfield: Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone, Jamie O’Hara, Kevin-Prince Boateng
Forwards: Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko
That’s a 25-man squad, ignoring Danny Rose, Jake Livermore, John Bostock, and Jon Obika, all of whom have played a part in pre-season, and Andros Townsend, Calum Butcher and Dean Parrett, who have previously been involved in first team squads.
The weakest area of the squad in my opinion is the left – we’re short of options at left midfield and, were Modric to get injured, Bale is the only other natural left-sided cover. Despite Gareth looking quite useful as a wing-back away at Everton last year, I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable with him being pushed into the first team for any length of time at this point. Left-back cover is also lacking – after Assou–Ekotto, again we’ve got Bale, who is defensively naive (at best), and Naughton, who is right-footed.
Higher quality competition in the middle of midfield would be nice, although I personally still see O’Hara as a useful option (so long as he’s happy to be a bit-part player) and, against the less athletic teams, Huddlestone has proven in the past that he can do a job too.
The other area that looks weak is central defence. With King only playing 20 games a season or so, and Woodgate needing a hernia op, we’re thin on the ground. Dawson is an able deputy and was, in my opinion, more impressive than Woodgate last year when called upon, but Corluka certainly looks less comfortable at centre back, and Dervite is still very, very raw. It seems that there’s a genuine interest in Bassong, which would make sense, as a pacy defender would be good cover for Ledley King. Personally I’d rather take Distin as a cheaper and more experienced option.
Up front, I still feel that we’re lacking a strong, aggressive striker. All of our strikers are, in one way or another, quite limited, and the combinations that we can field are similarly limited – it’s basically Crouch and one other! But the strikers we have are all good players, and most teams in the PL would be happy to have our selection. They aren’t perfect, but they’re good enough for the time being.
And that is why, with another 26 days until the transfer window closes, I hope that Harry largely decides to stick with what he’s got. It’s a good enough squad to compete for Europe, and we can build from there next summer.