It says a lot about the work Martin Jol has done and the expectations surrounding White Hart Lane that simply having more points than Arsenal is no longer enough.
But even during Tottenham’s successful season last year, there was one glaring hole in the side – left midfield. Edgar Davids was deployed there all season, despite not playing in that position since he was an embryo at the Ajax football academy. During the summer, it was assumed that the club who had made a habit of signing dozens of players to fill the same position would merely do the same to address the left. With money to burn from the sale of Michael Carrick and new Puma and Mansion sponsorships, there was plenty to be excited about.
But the transfer window came and went, and inexplicably not a single left winger was brought in while new signing Steed Malbranque was signed while crocked for two months. A bid was made for Stuart Downing that ended up with Middlesbrough laughing at us publicly, leaving us with 97 year old defensive midfielder Edgar Davids yet again.
Tottenham’s policy of signing multiple players for the same position, and letting the best rise to the top, was started by Frank Arnesen and has been continued by new Sporting Director Damien Comolli. The strategy has been met with mixed reviews from supporters and rarely has the phrase “Where the f**k is…” been used so frequently. But at least we are never short of depth, so why the hell did we not apply the same policy to our only remaining problem area, the wings?
The club claimed that the failure to sign a single left winger was due to not wanting to settle for second best. But the club have signed enough central midfielders, centre backs, and full backs in the last two seasons to put out 3 or 4 full teams – yet were unwilling to do the same to address what is really the only remaining weakness? By the time we get to January and inevitably sign the same players we were interested in during the summer (but are finally willing to pay the extra 500K) it will be too late.
As a result, Tottenham have looked imbalanced and awkward this season. Often playing four central midfielders at once leaves the players static, looking for outlets that inevitably aren’t there. With Michael Carrick off helping Manchester United to the top of the table, there is no one in midfield who is able to control the ball quickly, and play the right pass quickly. Danny Murphy is a player Spurs have who could fill this role, especially with Tottenham’s other midfielders already inclined to do the dirty work the ex-Liverpool man avoids. But for some reason he doesn’t get more than 10 minutes when the club are chasing a match.
As a result, watching Spurs play football is like watching netball – players get the ball and immediately stop moving.
Wayne Routledge has been loaned out a second time, this time to to Fulham as part of the Steed deal, leaving Aaron Lennon as the only winger we have to rely on in the entire squad. Predictably, he has now gone down injured and if – as feared – the damage is to the cartilage it will mean months on the sidelines.
It’s just typical Tottenham. With only a single, but crucial, hole in the squad to address in order to consistenly put out a side good enough to challenge the best, and with a over a year to do so – we make a complete hash of it.