De Luca’s Thoughts on Tottenham’s Transfer Business…
It’s not a coincidence that Spurs’s first impressive performance of the season came as the transfer window had just closed. It’s a recurring theme at Tottenham and a lot of other clubs as the team waits to settle with it’s final squad for the season. It’s not a coincidence either that Christian Eriksen turned in an eye catching display just days after signing his new contract. The signature of Eriksen for another 4 years is probably the key signing of the summer for Tottenham in what has to go down as a very successful transfer window.
The only squad that sustained a challenge to Leicester’s title run last season did not feature a single player who you would have called a household name a year earlier, which is why I’m not too concerned that none of the players we have brought in to join them are of the ‘marquee’ variety.
Christian Eriksen who is probably Tottenham’s most gifted player wouldn’t fall into the world class bracket by any means, but he is still a huge talent and capable of controlling football matches when in the mood.
He’s exactly the type of player Spurs should be looking for. The key to Tottenham’s relative success last season was not having world class players. Too often in the past the clubs desire to progress has been underpinned somewhat a transfer saga or media frenzy to link our world class players away in stories that were true or otherwise, last season though there was none of it, even the occasional stories linking Kane elsewhere were weakly written, transparent, and nowhere near believable enough to be unsettling.
So again, whilst the odd world class player is nice to have clearly, it can’t be at the expense of squad harmony. We saw the impact at Stamford Bridge last season of a world class player or two not being happy at not calling the shots, so bringing in players the level below is not something that Spurs fans should fret about providing they add something to the squad and produce consistent and effective displays.
The second striker that was desperately needed has been bought in in Vincent Janssen, and whilst in the short time he’s been on the field he’s missed a couple of chances I’d expect an international striker to score, it’s clear that we’ve added a player that is a handful and isn’t going to shy away if it takes a while between goals, turning in a MOTM display against Crystal Palace.
It’s important that in giving him games it’s not at the expense of Harry Kane playing as the main forward, but what is notable is that Kane has been substituted in 3 of the 4 games this season, and those extra minutes rest when needed will hopefully add up to a fresher, sharper Harry Kane as the long season takes shape, especially with the Champions League to juggle too.
The league is where the bread and butter is though and despite a good season last term, that is gone; and the team need to improve again, not necessarily in final league position as that will be the result of the how some of the other sides fare, but in points gained. An improvement on last years 70 points has to be the target rather than specific league positions, points will measure our progress and the end position will take care of itself.
It’s not going to be easy, last years 70 included 6 against Manchester City which may be harder to come by this season, although 0 points against Newcastle can hopefully be bettered against their replacements, Burnley.
The obvious fault last season was the amount of draws, 13, but at least 8 of those were games that should have been won but the team couldn’t find a way. Even winning just 5 of those would add 10 valuable extra points.
Having that second striker to throw on, and an international quality striker too, could well prove the game changer that was lacking too often last term as well as providing the option to go with two up tops as the ideas dry up in the closing quarter of matches. Having NKoudou and the late late addition of Sissoko also widen the options available to Pochettino either to force through a winning goal or approach games with a different style if needed. The one criticism that you could level at Spurs last season was that there was a visible lack of pace, even in last months home game against Liverpool the lack of pace compared to our opponents was glaring.
These two have that in abundance and both can play as orthodox wingers which could give us more width if and when needed, and an option to go with 4 or even 5 across the midfield if the situation dictates, and although I’ve not seen too much of NKoudou’s career thus far the thought of being able to deploy two fast wide men with pedigree is one that should excite. There were too many times last season when for all of the dominance a goal could not be found and there was no different strategic options on the bench,
4-2-3-1 but with different personnel and that can prove an easy formation to defend against if things aren’t ticking. This year the armoury has become more vast 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-5-1, 3-5-2 are all reachable with players not having to leave their natural positions, it’s a huge advantage to the manager brought about by the summers transfer activity.
Finally of course, Victor Wanyama. Of all the players from Southampton Spurs have been linked with since Poch’s arrival, he is the first to follow the boss to the club. It’s an addition of steel to the midfield and the only genuine defensive midfielder in the squad. I’d have question marks over his discipline like a lot of people and wonder how that will affect performances if an early booking is picked up.
There will be a red card at some point, no doubt, it’s the price you pay for a quality combative midfielder. Vieira, Keane, all had a red card or two to their name. Wanyama is not in that quality bracket of course but his displays in pre-season were extremely impressive and the best player on the park against Liverpool from a Tottenham perspective by quite some distance.
He’s replaced Ryan Mason in the squad so the strength in that position has gone up significantly as a result which is all a fan can ask for in any incoming transfer. Additionally his arrival increases the in game options available to the boss, as Dier can drop back into centre half or right back if needed to without leaving the midfield void of a play-breaker whilst increasing attacking options on the bench for when they are needed.
This is an option utilised already this season when Walker was injured against Liverpool and replaced by Janssen, a centre forward.
This season is going to be tough for Tottenham, expectations will be high despite the league being ultra competitive, particularly between positions 3-7, but as we’ve seen last season it doesn’t take much to launch into a title challenge from those positions if the ducks fall in a row. Leicester won the league that in December was looking like a fight between Arsenal and Manchester City. Anything goes.
I’m not sure for once how good or bad this Tottenham team are this season, or how high we should aim or how low we could fall. But I know that the players brought in have done nothing to make that worse. Last season some solid foundations were built and now the options and dimensions at the managers disposal have increased thanks to some intelligent squad beneficial recruiting. That can only be a good thing and there’s every chance that last season’s total can be bettered, Champions League distractions or not. World Class players or otherwise.
Sofa Sports News