January transfer window review
Lewis Holtby, 22, Schalke 04
Zeki Fryers, 20, Standard Liège
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.