Gardner’s goal – a corner is cleared only as far as the edge of the box and, after Ferguson’s shot is blocked, Gardner slams home.
As Birmingham take a corner, Danny Rose has his eye on Gardner on the edge of the box.
Kaboul heads the corner kick clear…
…but it falls to Barry Ferguson. Rose charges over to stop Ferguson’s progress, as Defoe is not close enough to deal with him.
Rose makes a fine block but has now left Gardner unmarked.
Gardner is one of the best strikers of the ball around – he tees it up on his knee, and rifles a low shot in.
EDIT: Great point made in the comments section that there are at least two Birmingham players offside here, as they are blocking Cudicini’s view of the shot. This image from an article on the FIFA.com website explaining how to interpret the offside laws specifically reference this type of situation.
It comes through a host of players, and Cudicini has no chance as it flies into the corner.
Beginning with those who are still on loan, Kyle Walker continues to start for Aston Villa, and should make his 18th appearance for them today against Liverpool. This week Luke Young has praised his all-round ability:
“Kyle has been brilliant for us. He is so quick. I expect him to go on to play for England many times.
I hear pundits say Kyle isn’t great when he’s defending but they like saying that every time they see a full-back who is good going forward.
They say Glen Johnson is not a good defender but not many people get past him too easily.
Kyle is a young boy and he is still learning the game but he has that real quality.”
He has had ups and downs at Villa but, on the whole, has performed admirably, and the majority of their fans would love them to sign him permanently – indeed, one commented:
“I think I wish we’d never loaned him.
It’s equivalent to having a new games console bought for you for christmas as a child and then having it taken off you on boxing day.”
“Should Kyle Walker get his chance, and eventually he almost certainly will do, England fans should expect an uncompromising defensive full back, with an enormous leap and electric pace. Whilst defensively he is formidable he is equally adept going forward. His marauding attacking runs into the opposition penalty area frequently cause havoc whilst he also wields a ferocious shot. During his time at Queens Park Rangers earlier this season he was often used as the primary attacking outlet, which is highly impressive for a full back, a position which is more associated with defending than attacking. He was twice named as man of the match for Q.P.R when playing in front of the live television cameras, an indication that Walker’s ability was already at a level greater than the second tier of English football.”
David Bentley has had a strange spell at Birmingham City. He was heavily involved until he got injured early in the Everton game in March – of the nine games that he played a part in, they won four and he was in decent form. Thereafter, he was used as a sub until the Wolves game, where it was widely reported that he “stormed off”. McLeish was quick to play this down:
“I spoke to him and told him he broke a club rule. I understood his disappointment.
“He broke a club rule, he didn’t realise the rule, so we won’t be taking any action against David.
“We do say to players it would be nice to stay and support your team-mates.
“I realise they don’t want to hoover up any good atmosphere or feelgood factor the players may have before a game and they don’t want to mope around the dressing room.
“But we do encourage them to see the games and they have to stay around in case there is an injury in the warm-up.”
McLeish insisted Bentley will be considered for the two remaining games he is eligible to play in this season, including Saturday’s clash at Newcastle.
He said: “Everything is fine. There is no falling out with David. He didn’t storm off as people said.
“It is a hyped up expression in the media. He calmly got into his car and went home.
“He is available for the other two games. He can’t play against Tottenham but is available for the other two games.”
MICK McCarthy says a heart-to-heart with Jamie O’Hara after the defeat at Stoke brought the on-loan midfielder back to form.
“Stoke was a poor performance and we did have a couple of words about that,” said the Wolves boss. “But since then he has been terrific.
“He’s a good footballer and he’s another one who has come back from being out for six months.
“I think he hit a real peak when he came in then he dipped a little bit – which is natural coming back from injury – and now he’s been back at it again and he’s played really well in the last three games.
“When you’re playing in behind the front man you can afford to be a bit loose, but when there’s two of you in central midfield, you can’t. You need an engine and he’s a two-litre injection engine!”
The Wolves boss believes the loss of Kevin Doyle was particularly felt by O’Hara.
“I did say he missed Kevin Doyle – playing in behind suited him because Doyle holds the ball up better than anyone else,” McCarthy said.
“That gave Jamie room to play in and he could get himself facing the play.
“But when Doyle wasn’t playing he couldn’t get into those positions and ended up facing his own goal and getting booted and tackled by centre-halves and we didn’t stretch the pitch as much.
“So those kind of things can affect players, but he’s gone and played alongside Karl Henry now.”
O’Hara has now played 13 times for Wolves, starting 12 of those, and seems to have put his injury woes behind him. If Wolves stay in the Premier League, I would imagine that they would be looking to try to sign him permanently. If they go down, I don’t think we’ll have too many problems finding other buyers – for example, Fulham have frequently been linked with him in the past, and Hughes may be thinking about a long-term replacement for Danny Murphy.
Robbie Keane has not endeared himself to the West Ham fans. With the strong rivalry that exists between Spurs and West Ham, it was always going to be difficult to win them over. A debut goal may have helped, but only one other goal in a total of five starts and five substitute appearances was not the ideal return, and this miss against Blackburn compounded matters. We had agreed a £6m deal which would have been triggered had West Ham avoided the drop but, with their relegation already decided, we will need to find another club willing to pay what many feel is too large a transfer fee for a player that has been in rapid decline since his move to Liverpool.
Giovani dos Santos has rekindled his career during his loan spell at Racing Santander, and seems to be enjoying his spell there to such an extent that he has hinted that he would like to make the move permanent. He has made nine starts (including one against Athletic Bilbao last night) and seven substitute appearances, scoring five goals in that time. In a recent interview with FIFA.com, Giovani revealed his frustration at not getting more of a chance at Spurs:
“I went through two very tough years, during which I barely played. I just wasn’t given a chance. The situation wasn’t ideal either, because when I signed Juande Ramos was in charge and I was quite regularly involved. Then he got sacked and Harry Redknapp came in, and I’ve not been part of his plans. This season has been more frustrating because I thought I’d get more playing time. I came back from the World Cup, played during pre-season and performed very well in several games, but yet again I wasn’t given an opportunity.”
Simon Dawkins will miss another 4-6 weeks for San Jose after undoing surgery, but has so far impressed during his time at the Earthquakes. Manager Frank Yallop praised Dawkins after a promising start where he scored two in six games (five starts) from central midfield:
“A lot of stuff goes through him. [It’s] not just his goals, but a lot of the stuff goes through him when we’re playing well. I thought he tired a little bit in the second half [last Saturday against Toronto FC], so he’s not 100 percent game-fit in the way we want to play, but Simon’s very good.”
Moving on to players whose loan deals have already finished, Oscar Jansson has had a quiet year. He made five starts for Northampton Town at the beginning of the season, following a short loan spell with Exeter City last season. He did not get another loan move, and so has been restricted to playing training ground friendlies for the Spurs XI. Now 20, he will be hoping to build on his league experience next year.
Dean Parrett had a difficult spell with Plymouth Argyle, where he stared seven games, made three substitute appearances, and was an unused substitute on six occasions. He found it tough going in a side that does not play the most fluid style of football, but I am pleased to say that he turned his season round with an excellent spell at Charlton, where he managed nine starts.
A decent period on loan for this Spurs youngster, coupled with his first senior goal in April against Rochdale. Skilful, and with a big heart, it took Parrett time to settle into third tier football, but he did OK. I’m not sure he will ever be a regular first team player at White Hart Lane, but he looks decent enough to play at Championship level at least when he has more experience.
“I have got two years left at Spurs, I think the plan is for me to go back out on loan next year and get more matches under my belt.
If I play the last five games I would have played about 20-25 games this season. I think Tottenham might want me to go out and build up my game profile and I would like to come back.”
Ben Alnwick did not manage a single league game this season, despite loan spells with both Leeds United and Doncaster Rovers; he was named as a substitute twice for each club. I would guess that he will be released by Spurs at the end of the season.
Ryan Mason has had another injury-hit season, but ended it with some strong performances for Doncaster Rovers. His first loan spell at Rovers was cut short by a back injury but, once recovered, he returned for a second spell in January. In total he made five starts and ten substitute appearances, saving his best for the end with strong performances against Barsnley and Leicester.
“What a game the lad had today! Every one of them played fantastic today but Mason had a stormer. He has to start the next two games, he’s the only player who really looks to run at defences and does it with success. My MOTM today.”
“I’d love us to get Mason signed up, he was superb today. Using him leaves us open but I actually think he’s a player we need in the squad as he just runs with pace. I’d love us to keep him, fantastic game.”
“He was encouragingly good today Mason. Justified his start ahead of Moussa who was poor against Palace.”
“Mason was a big positive today. Amazed that SOD [Sean O’Driscoll] hasn’t unleashed him earlier in the season.”
“Mason had a fantastic performance in him, and i cant see why he wouldnt be played for the remaining two games. Im sure he wont be in the spurs fold next year, and id like to see him back at the keepmoat with a fit billy sharp!”
He was named the official Man of the Match in the next game (against Leicester) and, once again, the fans were impressed:
“Sign him up for next year!!!
From his twitter;
Well done to the lads! Been a tough season, confident next year will be a better one!
Also a big thanks to the fans, been brilliant and helped us through !
Confident the lads will do well next year whether I’m here or not tweeps.. Not a clue sorry lol
Sounds like he has enjoyed it here too, lets get him for the season and watch him go.”
“He really showed his quality today, hope we can keep him.
He said in his interview on Player that his dream is to make it at Spurs, but surely he must realise that he’s gonna have to wait for his time, currently he’s behind Van der Vaart, Bale, Modric, Jenas etc. He’s only 19 isn’t he? Another season in the championship will be good for him.”
“After two brilliant games in a row we should really try and get him again next season, he could definitely help us push towards the Play-Offs. Someone have a word with him on Twitter encouraging him to come back next year, I know it’s SOD’s choice firstly. Like others have said he wont get in to that Spurs team at the moment, he should stay with us another season, get some more experience then return to Spurs the following year a better player.”
Andros Townsend has had somewhat of a “breakthrough” season. Although his form wasn’t consistently good at Ipswich Town, 14 starts and two substitute appearances (under Roy Keane) stood him in good stead for the rest of the season. A fine showing on his debut for Spurs followed, including a cracking goal with his weaker right foot, and he was soon back out on loan again, this time at Watford. That move didn’t last long, though, and after two starts and one substitute appearance, he was swiftly moved to Millwall (a great piece of pro-active management from Tim Sherwood in my opinion). His spell at the Lions was fantastic – he managed 11 starts, scoring twice.
Millwall’s brand of attacking football has won them many plaudits, not least 19-year-old Townsend, who recently joined the Lions on loan from parent club Tottenham until the end of the season.
Having taken the corner that led to Liam Trotter scoring the home side’s second goal and playing a key role in Millwall’s ability to stretch the play, the promising young winger declared his satisfaction at the performance: ‘‘Since I’ve been here, we’ve got 13 points out of 15 so things are going well and we’ve got to continue it for the remaining six games and see where it takes us.
‘‘Next season — in August, I’ll sit down with the manager [Harry Redknapp] to evaluate the options and see what’s best for me. Obviously, things are going well. Hopefully, next season, if this is still an option, then I’d like to stay here. I don’t know if there are any openings for me [at Tottenham]. I’m just looking forward to playing the rest of the season with Millwall. They’re my fourth club of the season, so hopefully I’m now settled here and can help them get into the Premiership. I’ve been able to relax here and be confident from the off.’’
Before Townsend had assisted Millwall’s second goal of the afternoon, James Henry had put the Londoners ahead with a free kick to give them a 2-0 lead at half-time.
I’m sure that if we were to allow Townsend out on loan again next season there would be no shortage of takers.
John Bostock started the season on loan at Hull City, and made an instant impression, scoring a belter on his debut. However, after eight starts, three substitute appearances, and a string of games where he was an unused substitute, it was decided that he should return early from his loan. His spell at Hull (and perhaps his career to date) is best summed up by this Hull City blogger, who describes him as “occasionally brilliant”.
Bostock was included on the bench for our game at Anfield last week, although there have been rumours that he could leave the club in the summer (with his old club, Crystal Palace, being linked). His future seems totally unclear at this point.
Jonathan Obika has managed four different loan clubs this season – Crystal Palace (eight substitute appearances), Peterborough United (two substitute appearances, one goal), Swindon Town (three starts, two substitute appearances) and finally Yeovil Town (11 starts, three goals, three assists). Whilst the Palace spell didn’t work out well at all, Jonathan was unlucky with the timing of his Peterborough move – the manager who signed him, Gary Johnson, left and was replaced by Darren Ferguson, who immediately cancelled the active loan deals. After a short spell at Swindon, Jonathan returned to Yeovil, where he was so effective last season.
He scored a fantastic goal against Hartlepool (3:32 in this video), and was an integral part of an improving Yeovil side – they won the first three games that he started, were unbeaten in their final six matches and finished 14th in League One, comfortably safe.
Steven Caulker won the Player of the Year award at Yeovil Town last year, and so a move to Championship Bristol City seemed to be a natural progression. The young centre back made 29 starts for City, scoring twice, and was this week named their Young Player of the Year, despite having his season cut short by injury. Caulker is quoted as saying that “I have really enjoyed my time at City and I would love to be back again next season. The fans have been fantastic and I really appreciate their support.” However, rumours suggest that Redknapp would prefer Caulker to player Premier League football next season.
Caulker won no end of plaudits amongst City fans, and had he been fit for the end of the season, this thread on a Bristol City forum suggests that that he was leading the race for their full Player of the Year award.
Caulker is a seriously talented player, and I for one am looking forward to more first team involvement for him next year.
Danny Rose made 13 starts and three substitute appearances for Bristol City over a three and a half month loan spell, eventually being recalled to Spurs (against his wishes, according to Steve Wigley) due to injuries to his back and hamstring. He mainly played on the left of midfield for Bristol City, and their fans were not particularly impressed with his crossing ability or defensive awareness. At the time, Rose seemed to see himself as a central player in the long-term, but Redknapp has since discovered that he could potentially be a very decent left back, and he has been excellent in the three games that he has started for Spurs in recent weeks.
18 year old striker, Cameron Lancaster, made his league debut during his loan spell at Dagenham Redbridge, and made four substitute appearances for them in total. Lancaster’s youth scholarship at Spurs has been terribly hit by injury, and so it was good for him to have a positive end to the season. Whether he will be kept on at Spurs, I’m not sure.
Nathan Byrne is another who made his league debut this season, with a promising loan spell at Brentford. Nathan is predominantly a right-back, but was used at right midfield in the majority of his 11 appearances (four starts) for Brentford. He played an important role in their 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the end of March, where he got an assist for the first goal, and went on a brilliant run before being brought down for the free-kick which put them 3-1 up. With Brentford “safe”, they opted to use their own players rather than loanees, and so he found himself out of the starting line-up.
He was part of the match day squad at Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, but was unfortunately an unused substitute.
Paul-Jose M’Poku had an “in and out” season at Leyton Orient, but nine starts and 18 substitute appearances in league football is great experience for the exciting 18 year old.
In a round up of their best players of the season this blogger makes some interesting comments on M’Poku’s performances:
9. Paul-Jose M’Poku Every now and again at Brisbane Road a player comes along with such dazzling skills that resident managers are left with no choice but to inexplicably leave them on the bench every game. Such was the plight of under-19 Belgian international and Spurs loanee Paul-Jose M’Poku. Hartlepool United’s defenders are still in therapy trying to come to terms with the outright humiliation they were subjected to on the young winger’s home debut, and M’Poku continued to provide flashes of inspiration in the 15 minutes he was allowed on the pitch each match. Essentially, stuff happened when M’Poku played. Just think what may have been if he’d been in the starting line-up…
His spell was slightly disjointed, due to injuries and call-ups to the Belgium U19s, but he hopefully did enough to win himself another loan spell next year – either in League One or possibly The Championship.
The second member of our trio that spent time at Orient, Harry Kane, had a fairly explosive start, scoring five goals in his first eight appearances. In total, the 17 year old made nine starts and nine substitute appearances – impressive for one so young. Kane has a long way to go, but is a promising player, and it will be interesting to see how he is handled next year.
Tom Carroll also enjoyed his first loan spell Leyton Orient, making nine starts and five substitute appearances. The 18 year old central midfield player was particularly impressive in the first leg of the Carling Cup tie against Arsenal, showing fantastic technique and awareness.
David Button started 29 games and made one substitute appearance for Plymouth Argyle – another virtually full season for the young goalkeeper. He kept seven clean sheets in a struggling team and, although he did make errors, he is generally well liked by Plymouth fans. Peter Reid was full of praise following their game with Dagenham and Redbridge in April, saying:
“He made two crucial saves in the second half. It was a real good performance from the kid. He’s a good goalkeeper, people forget he’s inexperienced and learning the trade, but he was terrific.”
Within Cudicini, Pletikosa and Alnwick all likely to leave in the summer, Button may well be kept at Spurs as third choice next season – he may even get a chance to start in the domestic cups or Europa League.
Adam Smith has made 40 league starts for Bournemouth this season (41 starts and one sub appearance in total) – a terrific achievement, especially when considering that their fans have praised his consistent performances. He has been a mainstay in a defence which has the fourth best record in the division, and just this week he won a penalty in the Play-Off Semi-Final which they lost to Huddersfield on penalties.
I believe that Smith’s contract expires in the summer, and it is likely that he will leave Spurs. Lee Bradbury is keen to sign him but the defender has supposedly also been targeted by several Championship sides, including Burnley (now managed by former Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe).
Kyle Naughton‘s fantastic season for Leicester City culminated in his being named in the Championship Team of the Season and also winning the Leicester City Young Player of the Season. Naughton made 36 starts for Leicester, scoring five times. Sven-Göran Eriksson confirmed in April that he had already been in contact with Spurs about signing Naughton permanently:
“I am not surprised teams are interested in him.
We will have to see because first of all Tottenham have to decide what they want to do, whether to keep him, loan him again or if he is available to buy.
The last time we contacted Tottenham they said they had not decided. I would like to buy him, of course.”
His performances have also attracted interest from Premier League new-boys QPR – a loan move could work well for all parties.
Jake Livermore has clocked up 12 starts and five substitute appearances in his spells at Ipswich Town and Leeds United this season – his spell at Leeds was particularly disappointing, twice being taken off at half time. Comments from Leeds fans are not positive to say the least:
“My only hope is I do not see Jake Livermore in a Leeds United shirt EVER again…”
“If Livermore can be a professional footballer so can I.
I can trot around doing nothing, I can pass the ball to the opposition or into touch and I can pull out of tackles and fail to win headers.”
“Those fans who had witnessed the loss at Selhurst Park had only one thing on their mind though. Please God don’t let Jake Livermore start the game!”
Despite disappointing loan spells, Livermore still seems to be fancied at Spurs, and was included on the bench at Anfield. My hope is that this was a token gesture, and that he will move on at the end of the season.
January’s defensive recruit, Bongani Khumalo, was enjoying life at Preston North End before succumbing to injury. His first five games heralded two wins, two draws and one defeat and, when he left the field against Millwall, the score was 0-0 – PNE ended up losing 4-0!
Fans were particularly impressed with his performance in the weekend’s 3-1 home win against Sheffield United. Fan comments from a forum:
“Bongani Khumalo – This man is solid. if treacy didnt score two i think it was him a defo for MOM. to round it off i seen him in train station and got a picture with him. Him and his agent are so nice, if only all footballer are like this eyy!”
“Looked like a class player today.”
Finally, two of our young players, Jake Nicholson and Kudus Oyenuga, were recently sent to Finnish club Myllykosken Pallo –47 (or MyPa). Nicholson left for Finland in March, and Oyenuga joined him a month later. However, after just three rounds of the Finnish league, the loan deals have been cut short, with the implication that the players (and presumably Spurs) are unhappy with their lack of pitch time. Oyenuga made two substitute appearances and one start, whereas Nicholson made one start and one substitute appearance. The Director of Football at MyPa is reported to have said “you have to earn the minutes on pitch”.
What might next season hold for our young players?
“I don’t think it’s an ideal competition for a team who have got aspirations of playing Champions League football next season.
But it’s a great opportunity to look at what we’ve got in reserve and I honestly believe that we have the players to step up and play.
Liverpool have done it and they’ve got a good few players coming through and playing Premier League football at the end of the season.”
I was pleased to read these comments, and am delighted that Spurs have recognsied that this is the way to use (certainly the early rounds of) the Europa League. As Sherwood says, we have seen how Liverpool have benefitted from doing similar in this season’s competition; for example, the emergence of Jay Spearing as one of their better performers in the latter part of the season owes much to his earlier experience in the Europa League, where they also used the likes of Shelvey, Wilson, Kelly, Pacheco, etc to good effect.
A knock-on effect of this, however, is that we will have to pick and choose our loans carefully. By this I mean that we may need to hold players back from going on loan for the first few months of the season (or until we get knocked out!) so that we can use them in the Europa League and the early rounds of the domestic cups. If we were to qualify for the Europa League I would, therefore, expect to see fewer loan moves in the early part of the season, with more players heading out in January.
We have a lot of work to do this summer to clear the deadwood.
This year’s squad
This was the 25-man squad list that we submitted at the start of February:
1. Ben Alnwick 2. Benoit Assou-Ekotto 3. Sebastien Bassong 4. Vedran Corluka 5. Peter Crouch 6. Carlo Cudicini 7. Heurelho Gomes 8. Michael Dawson 9. Jermain Defoe 10. William Gallas 11. Tom Huddlestone 12. Alan Hutton 13. Jermaine Jenas 14. Younes Kaboul 15. Bongani Khumalo 16. Ledley King 17. Niko Kranjcar 18. Aaron Lennon 19. Luka Modric 20. Wilson Palacios 21. Roman Pavlyuchenko 22. Steven Pienaar 23. Stipe Pletikosa 24. Rafael van der Vaart 25. Jonathan Woodgate
Others to consider
Added to our squad this summer will be the returning loanees Kyle Naughton, David Bentley and Robbie Keane, all of whom are over 21.
It is also important to note that the following players will no longer be able to be considered under-21s from next season, and will therefore have to be named in the 25-man squad if we want to use them:
Gareth Bale Sandro Ranieri David Button Giovani Dos Santos Jake Livermore
That takes us to 33 players – eight of whom would obviously not be able to play in league games.
As an aside, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Jonathan Obika and Oscar Jansson all have one more year as U21 players – effectively “freebies”.
I imagine that the following will all leave:
Cudicini – contract ending. Woodgate – contract ending. Pletikosa – loan contract expiring. Keane Bentley Hutton Bassong – allegedly wants to return to France. O’Hara – likely to make permanent move to Wolves. dos Santos – likely to make permanent move to Racing Santander. Livermore Alnwick
Even if those players leave, we will likely need to either not include others or sell more players in order to improve the squad, and so it’s no wonder that most of the newspapers are reporting that we will be having an end of season clear-out.
The Independent reported on Thursday that offers would be considered for Roman Pavlyuchenko, Niko Kranjcar, Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka and Wilson Palacios (as well as Robbie Keane, Jamie O’Hara, Giovani dos Santos, and David Bentley). I would personally add Sebastien Bassong, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch to this list, as all of them are a level below where we would like to be. I would also put on record at this point, that I wouldn’t sell either Corluka or Kranjcar – Kranjcar in particular seems certain to be leaving (with Roma supposedly interested), but I would expect Corluka to stay.
Redknapp’s signings so far
My concern for the summer is Redknapp’s previous transfer record at Spurs. Below are his signings so far:
2010/11 Steven Pienaar – £3m 2010/11 Bongani Khumalo – £1.5m 2010/11 William Gallas – free 2010/11 Rafael van der Vaart – £8m 2010/11 Stipe Pletikosa – loan 2010/11 Sandro Ranieri – £6m 2009/10 Younes Kaboul – £5m 2009/10 Eidur Gudjohnsen – loan 2009/10 Niko Kranjcar- £2.5m 2009/10 Sebastien Bassong – £8m 2009/10 Peter Crouch – £9.5m 2009/10 Kyle Naughton- £4m 2009/10 Kyle Walker – £4m 2008/09 Robbie Keane – £15m 2008/09 Pascal Chimbonda – £3m 2008/09 Carlo Cudicini – free 2008/09 Wilson Palacios – £12m 2008/09 Jermain Defoe – £16m
Whilst recognising that a number of these players were bought at a time when we were desperate for any improvement (and also some “big characters”), it’s worrying how we have paid huge figures for relatively average players during Redknapp’s spell. The only players that can be said to have been truly successful signings are Sandro (who, at £6m, looks a real bargain), Walker (who has great potential and is already worth at least double what we paid), van der Vaart, and Gallas. Other than Gallas, rumours suggest that Redknapp was not heavily involved in any of these transfers. A number of his signings have had some good spells (Kranjcar, Bassong, Defoe, etc), but a fair few have been total flops (Pletikosa, Keane, Chimbonda).
In revealing this morning that his scouts suggested that Luis Suarez was, essentially, not what we needed, I worry about whether we are capable of shopping around and finding the appropriate players at appropriate prices. The late bids in January for Llorente, Rossi, Forlan, Aguero, etc etc, suggest more of a scatter gun approach than a disciplined and targeted approach to identifying potential signings.
What type of players do we need?
I would imagine that we will need to sign the following (at least), and probably in this order:
2/3 x strikers 1 x goalkeeper (competition for Gomes) 1 x centre back (to replace Bassong/Woodgate) 1 x left back (competition for Assou-Ekotto) 1 x right winger (competition for Lennon)
Whilst we should make plenty of money with the outgoing transfers, most of these funds could easily be sapped by signing one or two top forwards, and it will be vital that we shop around and look for bargains elsewhere.
Many names have been mentioned, particularly in terms of strikers, and in truth, most would be an improvement on what we have; the difficulty is that we are looking for strikers that are prepared to accept no Champions League football. Of those potentially available, Falcao of Porto would be my preference as first-choice, with someone like van Nistelrooy/Elmander (both available for free) and a younger player that could qualify as an under-21 (Lukaku if that deal is possible, or Wickham if not) brought in as back-up. The difficulty is that these players will not be cheap, and it is important not to be held to ransom. Cheaper alternatives are always there, but making use of the scouting network is crucial.
Including returning loanees and players who are now to old to be considered “under-21”, we have 33 players fighting for the 25 squad places next season (before we make any signings). It will be vital to move out of favour players on before bringing new faces in; we don’t want to end up with lots of players on big wages who are not even eligible having been left out of the 25-man squad.
We need to strengthen our forward line as a priority and if this means selling all four of our strikers in order to be able to afford one or two top class replacements, so be it.
In identifying transfer targets, it will be important to consider the ages of potential targets. For example, Phil Jones and David Hoilett of Blackburn, or Connor Wickham of Ipswich could represent useful transfer targets as they would not need to be named as part of our 25-man squad.
Crouch’s own goal – Spurs switch off from a corner, and Crouch ends up prodding Milner’s drilled cross past Cudicini.
Having played so well for 30 minutes and just missed a great chance to take the lead, we shoot ourselves in the foot.
Milner takes a quick corner to Johnson, and only Lennon is switched on, and comes out to close the ball.
Lennon has to go to the ball, and nobody else comes out to help – Rose is best placed to do so. Johnson simply plays the ball back to Milner, and he has a clear run.
He gets into the box and fires a fine ball across the face of goal. Rose is not close enough to stop it.
Crouch does the right thing in trying to cover the near post.
But unfortunately he can’t adjust his feet quickly enough to be able to put the ball out for another corner, instead directing it at goal.
Cudicini throws himself at the ball, but it is travelling quickly, and he has little chance.
Crouch had good intentions and, had he missed the ball, Lescott would have scored, so I will not blame him for this one. I would, instead, blame the collective for letting City take a quick short corner – Rose was best placed to go out with Lennon, but instead waited and then wasn’t able to stop the cross.
Adam’s goal – having brilliantly saved a penalty just seconds earlier, Gomes makes recklessly challenges Taylor-Fletcher in the box, and Adam converts this time.
Adam, who has just saved his penalty brilliantly turned around the post by Gomes, quickly trots off to take the corner, and Spurs are caught out a little, and do not mark properly.
The corner is played to the near post, and Gomes meets it with a punch.
Gomes, presumably still buzzing from his fine save, chases after the ball, and tries to claim it a second time.
He has it in his hands, but it escapes as he clatters into Rose and Baptiste.
He goes after it again, but Gary Taylor-Fletcher nicks it past him.
Gomes makes a desperate attempt to get to the ball…
…and does make contact with Taylor-Fletcher. The contact is probably not enough to send him sprawling to the floor, but it’s certainly there.
Adam and Campbell argued on the halfway line over who was going to take the second penalty, but Adam eventually steps up, and powers the ball into the corner, with Gomes diving the wrong way.
I can’t help but feel that Gomes’ exhilaration in saving the first penalty caused him to chase after the ball here. He seemed to be buzzing after making the stop, and had a sudden rush of confidence which meant that he felt that he could get to the ball. He should have claimed the loose ball second time around but, having spilled it, he should have backed off and let the defenders close Taylor-Fletcher out.
Some general points on the game:
I thought that both penalties were legitimate – Dawson got a slight nudge for the first, but nothing substantial.
Aside from the penalty that he conceded, Gomes had a really positive game, making fine saves from Campbell and Adam, and then obviously his penalty save. This has been the problem with Gomes this season – we are often left saying “except for x, …”.
Adam’s tackle on Bale was dangerous but, in my opinion, not intentionally malicious. The “downward” tackle generally looks bad but I would say that Adam is trying to plant his foot to allow himself to muscle Bale off the ball. However, the recklessness of the movement could easily have earned him a red card, and I could see him being retrospectively punished.
Spurs underperformed (yet again) and were generally very poor in the penalty area. Both strikers had a poor first half and, other than his fine finish, Defoe was largely anonymous in the second.
The team selection, with Lennon again on the bench, left us lop-sided for long periods.
Sandro and Modric continued to work well together, and were our best players throughout the match. This pairing is looking better and better, and bodes well for next season (if we can hang on to them both).
Danny Rose had an impressive game in an unfamiliar left back role. I said before the game that I felt that it was a huge risk playing him at left back, and that it was actually unfair of Redknapp to play him there. In hindsight I was totally wrong and, aside from a few positional issues, he put in a fine performance (and should keep his place if Assou-Ekotto is still unavailable on Tuesday).