Monday, August 04, 2008

Is it all finally coming together?

So not only did Martin Jol win a trophy at the Emirates this weekend, but we picked up some more silverware in the form of the Feyenoord Jubilee Tournament Trophy. I don’t think I’ve been this excited since we won the 2005 Peace Cup! I watched our victories over Celtic and Borussia Dortmund and was pretty pleased with what I witnessed (other than the German’s constant fouling).

feeling pretty miserable with the end of our last season and then the shenanigans involving both Robbie Keane and the ManUre mafia putting pressure on a Scandinavian website, I haven’t felt particularly excited about the new season. We’ve had a lot of comings and goings, but there always seems to be a lot more changes still required… and we now have only 12 days to go until we kick things off at the Riverside.

So since my last post, Tottenham have signed Bentley (which we all knew was going to happen), Liverpool have signed Keano (again not unexpected, but a huge loss nevertheless), Sunderland have signed Malbranque (a big shame in my opinion, but it was Ramos’ decision), Blackburn have signed Robbo (good luck son) and Kaboul is still close to a move away (it seems that Pompey are now the only ones left in the running, but this has dragged on longer than the ManUre-Madrid-Ronaldo soap opera).

And on the pitch, Bent has been unable to stop scoring, which has ensured several good
pre-season results – let’s just hope the Midas touch can continue when the real business starts. Zokora has started at right-back a couple of times, which suggests that Ramos may well prefer him in Hutton’s absence as opposed to giving Gunter a run in the side. Bale and Jenas have looked pretty good. Gomes, Modric, Bentley and dos Santos all seem to have started very well. And so the hard graft at the Spanish training camp is beginning to pay off, as we all get excited about the new season and Ramos’ new-look Spurs side.

The media are once again making big predictions about a top four finish, and some people are even imagining that Berbatov will still be a Spurs player when the transfer window closes at the end of the month. I’d obviously be delighted to see both predictions come true, but personally I think the optimism is misplaced.

Yes we seem to be playing pretty attractive football so far. Yes we’re certainly getting the sorts of results we want. Yes we have some exciting new talent in our ranks and a potential of new crowd favourites.

However, we still don’t have enough strength in depth in defence, we still miss a true left winger, we don’t yet have a strong enough defensive midfielder and we lack any depth upfront. Maybe if the current squad stay fit and suspension-free we could do well… but from the other perspective, we’d only need one or two injuries to key players and we’ll have a very tough season ahead.

With the best part of a month still to go, I expect to see yet more new faces. It will obviously be frustrating that players joining the club in August won’t have had a full pre-season with the rest of the squad, but it will be better to get them in now than not at all.

On the whole I am encouraged by the signings Ramos has made and although I don’t necessarily agree with all of those that he’s letting leave, it’s clear he’s in control. Other than the unfortunate saga of Keano, Ramos has actively made the decision to move the others on. With Levy supporting him in the transfer market, you have to feel they have a plan and the building blocks are coming together as they’ve envisaged.

And despite the gaps that still exist, I’m feeling more positive than I have done all summer as we seem to be playing decent football. The new signings are all creative types with decent distribution. Couple that with the fact that Ramos likes players to be able to play in more than one position, and you get the impression that he’s building a talented, fluid, versatile, attractive team.

So my pre-season verdict to date? So far so good.


Anonymous said...

i think berbatov will stay. no-one can afford him, so he'll either have to sulk and spend the season playing with the reserves or give his all to put himself in the shop window for a transfer in january

N7teen said...

Don't get me wrong, if Berba stays I think he will give his best. He's a professional. I just think that someone (most likely ManUre) will come up with the money that Levy wants, or Levy will soften his stance. As long as we don't sell him on August 30th or 31st and not have a replacement lined up...

Anonymous said...

The boys looked solid in both games. Harder opposition and the defence frailties im sure would have been clear to see & so would like to see a defence midfield player brought in and cover for CB. Berba while clearly our best player, still seems uninterested and spent most of celtic game critising our players which seemed to affect them.take the money & spend it wisely! arshavin, veloso & CB cover & we'll b ready 4 season!

Anonymous said...

I dont think people realise what an amazing deal levy got on keane.The man is 29 and as good as he is he is NOT worth 20 million,and it is quickly becoming apparent that we are replacing him with arshavin,who is not only 2 years younger, but also twice as good.

We also have NO problems in the depth of our defence,if you havn't realised zakora and huddlestone are becoming make shift defenders when needed, therefore we have 2 top quality centre backs (in woodgate and king) backed up by 3 adequate centre backs.

This season may also see the two hugely under-rated Jermaine Jenas and Didier Zakora finally get some recognition they deserve.

I believe with the signing of arshavin and then either keeping berbatov or signing pavlochenko (or however its spelt), we will definetly have it in us to provide a strong push for 4th place

Anonymous said...

nah i think we should be sweet with the squad we have, with starting most likely modric bently dos santos and jenas in the midfield theres lennon hudds zokora ohara there to cover them, up front maybe a problem if berbs leaves but ramos will have that sorted by the end of the window. at the back with bale (possibly used on the left midfield) gilberto can cover, king and woodgate dont get injured so we dont have to worry about them..ok dawson and hmmm where is rocha...has he gone?? right back seems to be covered by zokora and id love to see gunter given a chance!

anyway...who is this smith character, anyone got some goss on him? and is KPB been given the cut from the first team squad?

Mike said...

Berba does look dis-interested but to be honest he always does. The new boys look class especially Dos Santos.
Could it be that we will start with a flourish this season (Unlike last)?
Bent is even firing again.
I am optimistic for this season but even more for the next few. We need to give the team a chance and Ramos as well. He has already shown his abilities as a manager and I think he could even get Berba playing with passion again given the chance. If Berba leaves I think we have the talent to cope and a number of players who can play in different formationsor positions as needed.
I am looking forward to this season more than most.