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In my first ever blog article, around this time three years ago, I wrote about how many players Redknapp had managed to trim from our squad. When he first arrived at the club, he was famously quoted as saying “We have about 40 or 50 players who sit down for dinner at the club every day but only 14 or 15 of them are good enough to play in the Premier League.”
I was pleased with the work that he had done and, in starting afresh, I hoped that he would build a squad for the future. I finished that article by saying “Overhauls clearly don’t work, and I hope we’ve learnt that now.” I stand by that statement and feel that, although Redknapp has overseen a number of young players coming into the first team, he has also somewhat backed us into a corner with his short-term signings, and it now seems that another squad overhaul is imminent – whether it is him presiding over it or not.
We have a number of players likely to leave come the summer:
Giovani dos Santos
I would also assume that some younger players will move on – potentially:
We also have another group of players who could all potentially leave the club:
Ledley King (retirement?)
That is ignoring Luka Modric, who was so keen to leave last summer.
Of course, it is unlikely that all of these players will leave in one hit, but I would certainly expect them to all leave over the next two to three years. It’s also worth noting that not all of them will need replacing as some have been used sparingly, and some have never been used. Having said that, our squad will need a lot of strengthening – more on this later.
Redknapp’s Spurs transfer record
Redknapp has had some successes in the transfer market since he joined the club in October 2008. Undoubted positives in Friedel, Parker, Adebayor, Gallas, van der Vaart, Walker, Kaboul, along with lesser triumphs Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe, Bassong and Palacios have improved the squad (to different extents!). It still seems, though, that there is a short-termist strategy.
Initially Redknapp brought in players to get us out of a sticky situation quickly, and it is striking that a number of these players were gone within a couple of years – Palacios, Chimbonda, Keane, Crouch, Gudjohnsen, Pletikosa. This has continued – listed below with the most recent to join first, it’s interesting to note that the average age of his four most recent signings is 34.
Rafael van der Vaart
After the initial glut of seemingly interim signings, one may have thought that Redknapp would try to build a squad for the future. Whilst it is true that he has overseen some young players being brought to the club, there have been as many older players – Gudjohnsen and Gallas for example – who added experience to an inexperience squad, but also needed/will need replacing within a short period of time.
It is the short-termist strategy that could cause problems this summer, and that is ignoring Friedel, who may be with us for another year or two at the most, but cannot go on forever. I listed 31 players above (including Modric). Of these, there are 15 that are in our 25-man squad. If we were to sell/release half of these (which is not unlikely), we would need to make a significant number of purchases to get the squad back up to strength for next year.
With question marks over our management going forward, no Director of Football, and no obvious transfer strategy, it is very difficult to foresee this panning out in a sensible, planned, targeted way. Of course, the quality of potential signings depends much on whether we qualify for The Champions League. If we were qualify, we should be able to attract good players to the club – potentially better than what we have currently; but even if we were to make seven or eight solid signings, they could take time to adapt to life at Tottenham (or this country) and so there could be a “settling in” period.
Why has this happened?
Through taking a more measured approach to signings, we could have avoided this “up in the air” feeling that we will have at end of the season, which would obviously be multiplied significantly if the manager and coaching staff were to change as well. So who is to blame for this? Is it Redknapp’s fault? Does the chairman have to take his share of the blame?
Football has changed so much – a transfer strategy for a club of the stature of Spurs has to effectively involve spending big transfer fees and big wages on a relatively small pool of players. Redknapp has, to an extent, used the “moneyball” approach – picking up cheap/free/loan signings who, although on big wages, will not cost much to bring in, and will sign relatively short-term contracts. Whilst it means that we’ll have to keep adjusting the squad year on year, it is relatively low-risk which could be seen as wise when it is difficult to make predictions on where the club will finish in the league.
Levy has presumably accepted this approach realising that if we finish 5th without having spent big, and with high earners nearing the end of their contracts, he is in a stronger position than finishing 5th having made a Liverpool-esque outlay. He can move on a lot of big earners relatively easily, whilst gradually taking chances on younger players who may turn out to be Bale/Walker style “bargains” (and by that I mean that their respective values have rocketed, rather than them costing little in the first place). And on the upside, if we finish in the top four he can use the bigger budget to either tie down players to big contracts or invest heavily in the right players to maintain that position.
I can certainly see the case, but still see the approach as a gamble. The amount of transactions required over the next couple of years means that we will be totally dismantling and rebuilding our squad (although hopefully not the first XI), and that is always a risky thing to attempt. Can we maintain stability? Can we integrate a large number of new players at once?
Three years on, and having said that “overhauls clearly don’t work”, we have an overhaul to look forward to in the summer – let’s just hope that, whoever our manager is, he focuses on having suitable back-ups in every area of the pitch.
Join the conversation
The short-termism is perfectly understandable given the uncertainty (at the time) surrounding Redknapp's future as relates to both the England job and the court case.
I think an overhaul is a bit drastic - we need about three top quality signings for the first team and, as you rightly point out, that will depend on whether or not we are in the Champions League and also who the manager is.
So far so good from Redknapp and Levy - it's an important summer but I don't think we need as much as you make out.
I agree re: suitable back-ups, but it's fairly apparent that Redknapp doesn't, otherwise he'd have played them more and they'd probably be happier to hang around!
I would be surprised if half of the players I mentioned didn't leave - they want to play for the good of their careers (and some simply aren't good enough).
Perhaps I should have added a paragraph on the various reasons why they may want to leave.
Totally agree with you about Levy keeping the shopping under control, and totally agree about the core being strong too.
I love your view for the future strategy and, of course, would love to see that too.
I obviously appreciate the style and quality of football that Redknapp has brought, but am just pointing out that it has come at some cost. I am really not a negative fan on the whole - I am very pleased with how things have gone over the last two years.
It's important not to forget to prepare though, and there's a lot of work to do this summer to get ourselves ready for next year.
Just one other point, we signed Falque on a permanent deal in January so I'd highly doubt he will leave in the summer.
Falque hasn't impressed at Southampton and I just can't really see where/how he'll fit in - he's nearly 22 so can see him moving on for his career.
Cudicini is 38 and, for me, lookingly increasingly creaky. I think the reason Friedel has kept going is that he plays every game. With Cudicini mainly sat on the bench, I think he is getting very rusty and I'd personally cut him loose.
Re: Naughton, I think Norwich want to sign him permanently and I can see him wanting to stay there permanently for the good of his career.
Left back is definitely an area where the squad needs strengthening. I think BAE is an excellent player, but you're right, he needs better back-up.
If Modric leaves, Hazard could be his replacement?
Some good suggestions there, mate, it'll be so interesting to see where we look to strengthen our squad - as in, what region.
If I were a fancy foreign manager I would be looking at the Spurs squad and thinking that overall it's strong enough, what needs picking up on is that when a player gets injured it tends to be when his back up is also injured. What other club needs 6 established center backs?
Youth is coming in nicely, Falque looks like a keeper where as its a shame about Khumalo, he looked handy in the world cup. Loaning out players ready to bring them in the next year is paying off and the structure is there. The general previous idea of only adding if its an improvement seems right, but we do actually need to add that improvement, certainly to retain/replace adebayor.
Any gaps in the squad will be made by offloading loanees and more likely natural wastage.
Suspect Hazard and Damaio have reached media saturation and so our chances of getting them are now nil but the others mentioned are all very good signings. I have to say here I wasnt a Comoli fan, I found his approach to be rather scattergun in that he would march into a country and demand a price for the young player of the year, paying whatever was ticketed. While we look back and see names that have come through, we have to say that they are names that were bought for a different system and only flourished when said system was changed, or bought for a completely different position and had to be moved on.
I keep looking at the Director of football position, and it's in the wrong position, it should not be placed above the manager, it's more of a purchasing officer in modern industry, you tell him what you want, he gets it, what we had was someone buying people and pushing them onto a team, doesnt work. And when we readjust our perspective of director of football, lets just call him purchaser, we see that all of the managers in the past had one, they were called assistants
Agree to an extent re: contracts. I can see your point on having no pressure to sell some of these players, but are you not worried about them losing value?
The DoF position you describe - I get the impression that Ian Broomfield pretty much does that in tandem with Levy.
Gabriel Torje - Udinese's Romanian winger (I know he just signed last summer with them but I think he could be special)
Abel Hernandez - rumoured arsenal target
Ron Robert Zieler - a talented young goalkeeper for Hannover 96 (Friedel will need replacing in the next few years)