Today’s blog is a guest piece by friend of the Express, Acton_Yid, in which he tears our transfer policy of late “a new one” and offers an incisive view on the way forward.
Paulinho, Eriksen, Soldado, Chadli, Capoue, Chiriches, Lamela. The famous seven, bought in to replace our departing superstar Gareth Bale.
Go back in time for a moment and take a closer look at our “Usual Suspects” line-up. Throw in a disenchanted Head Coach, a world class superstar in the making (Bale), a frugal but financially ruthless Chairman and a sprinkling of apparently capable players from around the globe…
We all know what happened next. The fanfare from the Spurs press team showcasing for the benefit of the media the new additions which, it was hoped, would have gone on to fill a Bale-sized hole in the first team – but instead contrived to spectacularly fail on the playing field.
The ‘special relationship’ with Madrid that saw us selling them Bale… and them selling hated rivals, Arsenal, Mezut Ozil.
As we enter the close season, it’s fair to say that the club’s transfer policy has, if anything, actually put the club back a number of years in terms of its aim of restoring Champions League status.
The cash we threw at that Bale-sized hole was money for old rope.
But where did it all go wrong and who, or what, was to blame for Spur’s failings in developing an effective transfer policy?
More importantly, how do we put it right?
Most obviously a problem was the lack of forward-thinking at the end of the 2012-13 season. We lost Bale. Hard to replace, sure. But instead of investing in a direct replacement, we bought seven players – none of whom had previously played in the Premier League.
This haphazard and misguided acquisition of players, not suited to the style of play demanded by Villas Boas, raised serious questions over the club’s repeated failure to back the manager.
We now know that AVB, in fact, had a specific shopping list – including Moutinho and Hulk – and with the exception of Eriksen and Chadli (and to some extent Lamela, who remains a work in progress) there’s no question that the players bought were NOT of the quality and level commensurate with Spurs’ then style of play.
Fast-forward to today and with Spurs’ recent appointment of Paul Mitchell we have a unique opportunity to put things right, including offloading some of the players so poorly acquired from the proceeds of the Bale transfer.
It is clear that Pochettino won’t tolerate a repeat of the interference we’ve seen from Levy in the past, and for those who think he’s just a patsy or a yes man, that’s a real positive.
He made as much clear after the Southampton game last month:
“It is very important that the players who stay here and the players who maybe we bring in that I agree and that it is my decision.”
What is worrying though, is the recent admission by Levy that he’s keen to return to his ‘comfort zone’.
Indeed the minutes of the March meeting between the Chairman and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporter’s Trust make uncomfortable reading:
“THFC’s transfer comfort zone was with younger players around the £10-15m price range and they would look to return to that policy. They felt that moving away from this strategy in summer 2013 had not worked well.”
The club still claim to have backed AVB with the cash that became available after the boy wonder’s sale, but it’s clear that success on the pitch has not materialised. If anything we’ve gone firmly backwards.
It’s easy to knock, but if we agree the likes of Soldado, Paulinho, Chiriches and Capoue have failed to deliver – what type and valuation of player should Pochettino, Mitchell and Levy now be focusing on?
First and foremost, we must hope that Levy truly has learnt from the relative failure of four successive windows since Bale departed and that he will back Poch with the players he wants, and which suit his style of play; a high-pressing, attacking brand of football coveted by Chairman and fans alike.
It’s likely that Levy’s preference for a mix of younger players, with a low transfer fee but high sell-on value, will remain his preference. Not only has this view been reinforced by the success of Kane, Bentaleb and all, but by the relative (if not absolute) failure of big signings like Soldado and Paulinho to make the grade.
A clear out this summer would present an opportunity to rid the squad of its deadwood.
We seriously need cover at centre-half for a start, and a technically proficient central midfielder to partner the likes of Bentaleb or Mason would be a huge boost. Preferably one who can do the defensive duties and free the more creative sparks to get forward.
We also need to rid the wage bill of Adebayor and that will mean targeting a new centre forward to ease the pressure on Harry Kane. It wouldn’t do any harm to look at another wide midfielder either, one that would offer a more direct alternative to complement the likes of Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela.
It’s not all bad news. The gone (but not forgotten) Aaron Lennon could be recalled after a useful spell at Everton. Whilst Alli, Yedlin and the exciting Pritchard could be set to break through next term.
But let’s not kid ourselves, the development of promising young players is great but we’re nowhere near Champions League without serious, and sensible, investment.