Friday, July 25, 2008

38 days to go and five signings needed

Another summer at Spurs and as usual it means months of speculation. As a well-supported and wealthy club it means we’re linked with everyone from my gran to Pele (or so it seems at times). With 38 days remaining until the transfer window closes, I thought it was time to run through how our squad is currently shaping up for the new season.

Goalkeepers

Our first choice will obviously be new signing Heurelho Gomes, now that his work permit has been approved; with Ben Alnwick and Oscar Jansson vying for the deputy slot. Cerny left at the end of the season when his loan deal expired (and has since signed for QPR), Forecast joined Southampton, and Robbo looks to be heading up to Blackburn imminently.

Verdict: No real experience if Gomes gets injured, but having a confident stopper will be an improvement on last season.

Defenders

We’ve got Alan Hutton and Chris Gunter on the right, although the Scotsman has apparently done his ankle and will be missing until early-mid October. On the left we have Gareth Bale, who we’re all excited to see again (let’s just hope he has better luck with injuries), and Gilberto as his deputy. It seems that Young-Pyo Lee is sticking around after a return to PSV didn't materialise, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave if the club receive a semi-decent bid. Although I expected Stalteri to leave, Ramos may opt to hang on to him for a bit longer with the news about Hutton. But then again, if a firm offer came in I’m sure Ramos would rather opt to take the cash to help him fund further transfers.

In the middle we have Ledders and Woody, with Daws backing up. Since the first two are injury prone, and Daws had a bad season last time around, I expect we may see some further strengthening here, although not sure who we’re likely to buy.

Chimbonda has signed for Sunderland, Kaboul is close to joining Villa, Gardner is off to Hull (initially on loan), and it seems that Assou-Ekotto and Rocha will be off as soon as someone expresses an interest.

Verdict: Our first choice back four looks superb, although buying another central defender would be a wise move if we want to concede fewer goals than last season.

Midfielders

Wow, where do we start? The signing of Modric and dos Santos has definitely strengthened this area, and with the club signing up Huddlestone and O’Hara on improved deals, as well as issuing a hands-off statement regarding Lennon, we have plenty of options.

Let’s start with those leaving. Tainio has signed for Sunderland and Malbranque is pretty likely to. Personally I think this would be a tragedy as he was my player of the season last term. However, if Ramos has told him he has no future at Spurs then I don’t blame and will wish him well. Ramos is no fan of Boateng so I would expect him to be offloaded before the season starts. With Ghaly injured it might be tricky to get rid of him before the window shuts, but we all know he has no future at Tottenham.

With the arrival of David Bentley expected soon, I guess we’ll see him and Lennon competing to start on the right. I guess dos Santos or Jamie O’Hara could occupy the left flank, although I’d like us to sign a proper winger in the mould of Capel. In the middle there is Modric, Jenas, Zokora and Huddlestone. And then there’s always the exciting Adel Taarabt who could play on the left or in the middle, just soon as he learns that there are 10 other players on his team and if he was to sometimes pass the ball he might be more effective. With the talent ahead of him in the pecking order he would be better off going out on loan for a few months.

There is talk of Ramos playing a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation this season, which would presumably give more chances to the names listed above. The other slight controversy is who we use as our holding midfielder. I like Zokora and Huddlestone, but wouldn’t describe either as the perfect solution. Our defensive record was atrocious last season, so I think strengthening this position is key.

Verdict: With such a wealth of talent, the big question is what Ramos’ first choice line-up will be. To fill the gaps, a left winger and holding midfielder would be useful acquisitions.

Strikers

Now I’m not sure if the idea of Ramos wanting to play 4-5-1/4-3-3 came about because of the rumours linking all of our main forwards with moves away or if it his preferred way of playing. Nevertheless, upfront is proving to be a problem area for us at present. Keane’s head has been turned and is likely to be playing for the car thieves by the end of the weekend, and we all know Berba has been waiting for a move for the last year.

Despite rumours earlier in the summer linking Darren Bent with the exit door, I think he’ll now be staying put. If we’re slow to fill the gaps caused by the Keane and Berbatov departures, he could blossom next season.

However, whatever formation we intend to play, I still think we need to replace the two who are leaving. Arshavin has been linked as a potential second striker, but I think he is over-priced and over-rated. David Villa would be an amazing coup, but I don’t think he’d ever join Spurs. As for the Berbatov replacement, a new name seems to be linked everyday. Personally I’d quite like to see Diego Milito sign.

And as for backup, the young Tomas Pekhart looks like a great prospect and will hopefully get a few opportunities this season.

Verdict: A problem area at present, but if we can sign two decent forwards before the end of August we can hopefully enjoy another season with a great, but different, forward-line.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

when did gomez get his work permit?

news to me

N7teen said...

Wikipedia states that: "Gomes has recently obtained a work permit, despite playing less than the 75% required amount of games for Brazil in the last 2 years."

Now I know Wikipedia isn't the gospel, but the fact that Robbo is talking to Blackburn suggests that Gomes is a definite.

He's also appeared in the last two friendlies. Not sure if a work permit is necessary for friendlies, but all signs point to him being permanent.

Anonymous said...

i don't think a work permit is neccessary for friendlies, but the fact he has got it is great news.

somethimes it's nice when the application fails however. bobby convey anyone?

N7teen said...

very true. but despite a few grobbelaar tendencies, i reckon gomes will do well for us

Anonymous said...

I think the impression must be that the young keepers are talented enough to cover for Gomes between them - but I am quite surprised at this and have always expected either a second kepper to arrive or Robbo to stay (but it looks like that ain't gonna happen).
One central defender needed, agreed. Just hope the Hutton injury is a storm in a teacup.
It is with midfield and attack that the real issues lie: Ramos does like a 4-5-1, with a central attacking midfielder - almost in, sare I say it, a Robbie Keaen role, but slightly further back. Kerzhakov played like this for Sevilla - and it no-one ever knew whether he was a forward or a midfielder. The key to understanding Ramos, however, is in understanding that he believes in two things above all others: flexibility and an attacking game. So, with a 4-5-1, he would be looking for two holding midfielders, at least one of whom can ping the ball forward to initiate attacks (i.e. Hudd). This leaves an attacking midfielder - as i have said; but then two wider players, who cut in frequently - Dos Santos, being dexcribed (amongst other things) as a forward/winger, and Bentley likes to cut in and scores his fair share in this way. This system depends on two wing-backs bombing forward and whipping crosses in - for which Bale is perfect, Hutton is pretty good - but the Spaniard showed last year that though he favours this system he is no Ossie Ardiles, by buying the Scot to replace Chimbonda, who attacks well enough, but is less reliable defending. Modric can play attacking or defensive midfield.
As a plan B, bearing in mind Ramos' preference for progressive football. So, to complement Lennon/Bentley on the right, the talk is of a bid for Capel, who is more of a traditional winger than Dos Santos.
Darren Bent's game is well suited to a more direct, creative midfield - IMHO better than Berbatov's. To my mind, the only thing that has thrown everything in doubt is the Keane debacle. Who would be playing deeper than a conventional striker - and that is where the interest in Arshavin comes in. I think too many are worryin too much about replacing Berbatov. Pekhart is wating in the wings, well regarded and capable of playing the lone striker role, or dropping a bit deeper.
That leaves (possibly) a kepper, a central defender, Capel, Bentley and Arshavin (or an Arshavin like player). That team would score goals and would cost less than the amount incoming from the Sunderland mob, Robbo, Gardner, anyone else we can get some money from, and Keane/Berbatov - leaving plenty to strengthen in January if another forward is expedient and non of the young lads coming through can cut it.