The 25-man squad rule and rebuilding for next season
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:
Giovani Dos Santos
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.
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.
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
Transfer fees taken from the wonderful Topspurs.
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.
Join the conversation
Gomes, Robbo/Stekelenberg, Loach?
Dawson, Gallas, Kaboul, Phil Jones, Khumalo
Lennon, (new versatile winger as back up)
Modders, Hudd, Sandro, O'Hara, Rafa vdV
Falcao, Defoe, Crouch, (New young striker ideally Lukaku or Wickham)
Thud, Pinear, O Hara, Rose, Kaboul, Corluka, Defoe, K Jones, Khumalo.
We all know Dan Levy likes to make a few quid, but with players like Keane, where we know he will never get a game, surely we have to literally give him away. No club is going to match his wages if they have to pay a transfer fee as well, and that goes for a few other players we have on long contracts.
We need to act quickly and firmly - getting all those definitely going out as soon as possible, and making proper serious offers for any players we want and getting the deals done.
We can't end up starting a season again with a situation like the Berbatov saga, damaging the team stability from the start.
Get into the market, make it clear who is going and just get them out and act decisively.
A Suggestion or for LB would be Joe Mattock or Jose Angel.
Both early 20s, and with great potential.
I would like to think for ST we should look to Sergio Aguerro... the only problem would be lack of CL football.
I believe one of the other commenters mentioned bringing in Phil Jones as a CB... not a bad shout, but maybe we could look at Gary Cahill too?
As for Keepers, I had previously had Neuer / Rene Adler in mind... but with their performances, I don't think we'll have the funds.
Perhaps someone along the lines of Stekelenburg or Ochoa? (Mexican International) or maybe even Romero (Argentinian)...
But if these are indeed as unlikely as I fear, why not bring in Alex Smithies to begin to push for the No1 jersey??
Big summer which I fear could fail with an inability to get rid of the players we no longer need or want.
My issue is, if our scouts were decent, we'd pick up quality players on the 'cheap' for competition for key areas in the squad and then spend big on a world class forward and perhaps two more in other areas to consolidate/progress.
The worry (not for some) is that Levy might cash in for Bale so we could have £40M to spend. The assumption of course is whether anyone would pay that amount for him in the first place.
I do not understand the growing consensus that Defoe should be shown the door, particularly just when he's starting to show some glimpes of form (2 goals in his last 2 starts, and decent ones at that). He's had a poor season, sure, but not without mitigating circumstances: injury, suspension, and an apparent crisis of confidence and evidenced by his performance against West Ham. What do you expect, though, from a player who's barely been given two consecutive starts all season? Through no fault of his own a lot of the time as well: he scores one match, he's dropped for the next. A collosal man-management misstep from Harry, I think. And it's not like the service to him has been great either; in the time Jermain's been injury and suspension free, we have largely been poor as a team.
You're also apparently advocating replacing our entire senior strikeforce with players who have never played in the Premier League, or even at a comparable level, with the exception of Elmander (who may well be a good signing, but has hardly been a model of consistency during his time in England) and Van Nistelrooy, who'll be 35 by the time next season starts. Other than that, I have no qualms with the particular players you've suggested, but I don't see how such an uncompromising overhaul can ever be wise.
I guess you could argue we have nothing to lose, but I disagree: Defoe is easily good enough to play for a team hoping to compete in the Champions League. At 28, he should be coming right into his prime, and I think some of his form last season, as well as at the beginning of this season (I know he didn't score before getting injured, but he looked very sharp), indicates that that is exactly the case. His teamwork, movement and hold-up play have all improved immeasurably during the last few years - he even seems to be getting over his tendency to hit the ball straight at the 'keeper when one-one-one - so to suggest we get rid is at best reactionary and at worst grossly unfair.
(PS - I wasn't briefer, but I was probably less articulate.)
Anon @ 17:08 - Still think we need to get rid of Defoe and Crouch, personally, and sadly I think Kranjcar's days are numbered. As for Lennon back up - what do you think of Hoilett or Chung Yong Lee?
Anon @ 17:13 - I agree re: O'Hara, but I think he has burnt his bridges. I'd not have signed Pienaar in the first place but now he's here I can't see him going. VDV? Think you're probably on your own there!
Anon @ 17:17 - Sturridge is a fantastic player. I'd be happy for us to go all out for him, as he's worth it.
SpursSimon - glad you got your comment up, apologies for the issues! It's a shame that West Ham aren't staying up in some ways, as we had a £6m deal agreed for Keane. I think QPR are our best hope... Totally agree re: acting quickly. I would seriously hope that we've already started preparing.
Phleanix - cheers. Mattock's a decent player. I don't know Jose Angel - what kind of player is he? Aguero, as you say, is probably out of reach, sadly.
LemonadeMoney - cheers! Hopefully a busy summer.
Drwinston - Agreed. Another benefit of getting in quickly is that we can do our dealings before we are met with competition.
Anon @ 17:56 - IMO playing to Crouch's strengths is, by definition, not playing to our other player's strengths. He's no longer a good fit in our side and, at 30, this is probably our last chance to get shot and be able to recoup some cash.
Spooky - cheers! Tend to agree. I don't want to criticise too much, as I'm sure our scouts DO do plenty of good work (hell, Sandro was a great bit of business, and I really like Luongo, who is an 18 year old that we picked up from an Australian team), but it does seem like they don't find many gems...
Adam - really sorry, the same happened to SpursSimon earlier. I can only suggest Ctrl-A/Ctl-V before posting, just in case. Ruddy Blogger! Thanks for such a long comment, I appreciate it. My own opinion on Defoe is that he's now slowing down (in terms of goals AND pace) but, even in his highest-scoring seasons, he scores a few less than our top striker probably needs to. I must also disagree on his general qualities - I think he's considerably worse than you make him out to be; his hold-up play has improved (there's no doubt about that), but his general awareness and football brain are still badly lacking. Whilst I would usually totally agree with your points re: an overhaul generally (I am a huge believer in continuity), since most of the players that I have advocated leaving have barely played, I'd suggest that it will have limited impact. In terms of strikers, VDV is essentially a number 10, so there's only really one striker place. And Falcao could hardly do worse than Crouch or Defoe of this season...
Firstly, i believe that we are not too many players away form being a top side and the strikers are what let us down this season! You said: 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)
1. Marteen Steklenburg- Dutch No 1 and plays for Ajax- has one year left on his contract- could be good for us!
2. Jan Vertonghen- center back- also plays for Ajax and is left footed- which is really good because Dawson has been playing on the left to accommodate Gallas and hasn't been as dominant as he was last season playing on the right - Can also play left back which means he covers 2 positions on the list.
3. Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose will be good enough cover for BAE.
3. Piennar can play on the right so moving to stikers- Lukas Podolski- who is a German Wayne Rooney- with a left foot and better looks!
Can play up front,Second striker and Left wing/left mid and in the hole. We all saw him against England and in the Euros- the guy is so good and is really underrated!Could be a star for us!
4.Karim Benzema- Striker-He will finally replace Berbatov! Guy is amazing and would probably break our transfer record but he will be worth it!
If we get these players- we will be amazing- just hope we get the right players!COYS!
I also never said he should be our top striker (in fact in my initial post, I specifically said he *shouldn't* be the benchmark, but that got lost in redux), but it's not as black and white as that, is it. Say we bring in Falcao, Wickham and Elmander. Falcao needs time to settle and Wickham isn't up to the grade yet (which, having seen him play a fair bit, he almost definitely isn't). You'd rather put your faith in Elmander than Defoe, would you? A player who's only scored 18 goals in 91 appearances for Bolton, i.e. less than Defoe scored last season alone? And it's not like Defoe is merely up to being a squad player either (or my interpretation of what a squad player is, anyway). If he hits a good run of form, he's an extremely potent weapon. Maybe he'll never be able to keep it up for a whole season, but so what? Very few players can. That's part of the reason you have a squad - to increase the chances of having 11 players in form at the same time. Are you saying, even at his best, you don't think Defoe's good enough? Because I think you're asking for a hell of a lot if so.
And finally, with regard to there only being one striker place, there are two really aren't there, it just so happens that Rafa takes up one of them. We could bring in another attacking midfielder rather than a striker to act as cover, but then we're committing ourselves to a system that we only really play so we can fit Rafa in. We could bring Modric further forward if Rafa gets injured or loses form, but then we're stretching the midfield thin. (Having said that, I'm very much of the opinion that Modric *should* be played further forward, but that's getting away from the point.) So even with Rafa in the squad, I don't see how we can do without three senior strikers, of which Defoe should be one. But hey, the grass is always greener...
Adam - indeed, he scored 18 league goals last season, which I think was his highest by 4/5 goals. However, for over a calendar year he has looked a very poor player. I guess the question is: how long do you stick with a player and hope that he gets back to form? Redknapp stuck with him for the back end of last season, and he barely scored. He had a run of 10 or so games earlier this season and barely scored.
I totally take the point you're making about having a squad that are all capable of coming in and performing but, since Defoe has supposedly already been making noises about leaving if he doesn't get more starts, I can't see how it's going to work - especially if he DOESN'T score many!
I'd be happier giving Falcao 10-15 starts in the hope that he starts producing the goods, than Defoe. Falcao has the potential to be a wonderful player - he offers a lot to Porto aside from goals. Defoe, at best, would bang in some goals (probably some vital ones). But I don't think that Defoe helps to bring the best out of other players and so when he isn't scoring, he's not nearly as effective as others could be.
Essentially, I think Defoe is a good player - not a great player. He is a level below our best players - Sandro/Modric/Bale/VDV are at the level we should be aiming for.
I'm just glad that while Harry spent all last summer fluttering his eyelashes at J Cole (what a 'great' signing he turned out to be) Levy was busy sounding out Madrid about Van der Vaart ie. Someone who has made a difference this season.
I agree with the other fans who are bigging up Cahill & Jones as they are good young footballers but we are not that far away from having a future England centre back already.
Steven Caulker might not be ready just yet, but he ain't far away from being an absolutely belting player. I would hate to see us sign a player for loads of money who will then hinder Steven's chances of making it at Spurs (No, I'm not his dad!) A Bristol City season ticket holder I know, says that he has been the stand out defender for them this season and what I've seen of him has really impressed me. We should think hard before lashing out millions on another 'prospect' when we already have our own...
We should release the likes of Pletikosa, King (1 or 2 games a season aint worth it), Woodgate(same as ledley).
We could also sell he likes of Hutton (average at best), Jenas (QPR are welcome to him), Palacios (the poor mans Sandro) ,O’Hara (Wants to leave, we have better),Bentley (No need to say anything), Kranjcar (Id like to keep him, but he's going), Dos Santos (same as kranjcar), Pavlyuchenko (not up to it),Crouch (1 dimensional and even his 1 dimension is average at best), Keane (past it).
Not sure about Naughton.
We should save ourselves a fortune in wages and get in a few quid from these sales.
Sign a new keeper any of the names mentioned (if available, somebody reliable)
Next promote Rose as cover for left back
Promote Townsend as 4th choice cover for our wing positions or sign some competition
New central midfielder (Knowing Harry this could be Parker)
2 new Strikers - maybe 2 of Elmander, Adebayor or Berbatov.
As much as I like VDV and recognise is talent, Its obvious that his arrival has had a negative affect on the team. The thing I dislike the most is the talk that he may have a clause in his contract whereby he must play if fit. If thats the case Id cash him in for and buy another striker. The team is always more important than 1 player.
Think we are only a couple of signings away from improvement mainly upfront and a decent keeper.
Gosport Dave - thanks! Totally agree re: Cole - thank goodness we missed him. I am a huge Caulker fan too (he was named Bristol City Young Player of the Year yesterday), but I have a feeling that Redknapp won't take a chance just yet. I also think that if we lose Bassong, Woodgate and King (which is possible), we may need two more CBs to go with Dawson, Gallas and Kaboul. Whether Khumalo is good enough to be one, I'm not sure.
Anon @ 01:42 - I tend to agree re: King, but would love to see him kept on in some capacity - rare that you get a one-club man nowadays (even if his hand has been somewhat forced by injury). I'd love to think that Redknapp will include Townsend on the bench for the last two games, just to get him some experience, but I just can't see it happening.
NOw he has to force feed VDV in to the squad, y is this such a struggle, how can you not be able to make it work? but nit struggle to accomodate a player like CRouch or defoe? i realise that having a view makes us idiots, but harry is the clown, the media whore lowering our calibre with every breath of bullshi that he utters. Lets see where he goes from here and if anyone can remember, then please tell this toxic bafoon where it is that he ha sarrived..Not hard to see why players that won us important games last year, cannot get there offerings past his ego.
The other is Connor Wickham. He may or may not be the real deal, but he has hardly been prolific with a strike rate of 1-in-5. I mourn our ability to sign a new striker, but it looks to me like most of those we could have/should have signed are not doing any better than what we have at present.
Regarding a mass clear out of "surplus" players, I have noticed a growing trend for the smaller clubs (i.e. the most likely buyers of our cast offs) just don't seem to have the money to spend and only want to take loan players, where we are probably contributing to their wages.
As regards Adam's defence of Defoe, perhaps you could enlighten me as to why he cannot manage to keep himself onside? He would manage to be offside taking a penalty! Watching Bent against the Goons made me wonder why Defoe doesn't actually follow the play rather than ball watch.
Marko Marin would be a great acquisition to take Luca's place in case we lose him season after next if we don't make top four. I also would like either Adams or Parker to replace Palacios, the former being the better player as well as a potential captain; I prefer the captain to be a midfielder.
Steklenberg, Hennessy, Loach, Jansson,
Dawson, Gallas, Kaboul,
Cahill, King, Caulker,
Enrique, BAE, Rose,
Sandro, Huddlestone, Hitzelsperger, Livermore,
Modric, Van der Vaart, Parker,
Bale, N'Zogbia, Pienaar,
Crouch,Van Nistelrooy, Wickham,
I think that this season there should be a total revamp of the squad, with the peripheral players allowed to leave, and new blood to invigorate the team. Also I think that experienced players like Parker and Van Nistelrooy (Who has experience of winning things)to motivate the younger players.
On the way out would be Gomes, Cudicini, Pletikosa, Alnwick, Hutton, Woodgate, Bassong,Naughton, Bentley, Jenas, Palacios, O'Hara, Dos Santos, Kranjcar (sadly), Keane, Pavlyuchenko, as most of these are sometime squad players or loanees.
O'Hara- Confirmed leaving with a deal with Wolves
Keane- Loss on him, but he's utter deadweight
Bentley- Waste of money, useless in the EPL
Dos Santos- In place to leave as well
Woodgate- Harry all but confirmed it. Can't waste space on a player who hardly plays.
Crouch- Doesn't work with our style of play, waste of space
Palacios- Slow, inaccurate, questionable mind
Pletikosa- Didn't use at all
Alnwick- Haven't seen him play but we need a keeper so we can hardly have another 3 sub keepers
Livermore- Haven't heard of him
Bassong- Not great, out of favour now
That's 10 players gone which gets us down to 23.
Given we need at the very least a keeper, striker and centreback we still need to cut the squad down.
Jenas- Definition of fringe player
Hutton or Corluka- Both can be good when they overperform but are not what we need if we want regular CL football.
I see us having at least:
7. Van der Vaart
16. Cudicini (honestly he could be #1, could he not? hasn't exactly had enough time to prove himself, but ofc a younger keeper would be better)