Going back to the end of last season, in the following blog entry I noted the following:
These defects are still present in the team that Martin Jol built and financed by Daniel Levy. Its like having a house with several holes in the roof that water drips down from. Instead of fixing the holes, you leave several buckets to capture the falling water.
* We can not defend crosses or set pieces
* We give away painfully simplistic goals, usually created out of individual errors
* We cannot take set pieces (corners or free kicks)
* We cannot cross the ball (still no true left winger three years later)
* We cannot keep clean sheets
* We still don't have the right balance in midfield
* We sit back instead of dominating possession
All of these are fixable at a management level, so this is Jol's main priorties. Taking set pieces should not be a problem at all this season with Bale in the squad and Kaboul having quite a hit on him. The lack of a true winger who can swing the balls in from both angles (Lennon isnt quite there yet and Routledge never will be) is vital unless the style of play Jol has in mind doesn't involve out-and-out wing play. Anyone can see that if you add a MGP style player into the team then we would score 15/20 more goals per season. Thats a massive difference to the goal difference.
At the other end, the conceding of the simplistic goals was down to the back four changing all the time. No King means more concerns, but again - with the whole of the summer at his peril, if Kaboul is the only player we need at the back, then fair enough. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and see how it all pans out.
The defence needs to be organised to form a unit that knows each of their individual responsibilities and their collective responsibilities. That's what training should help formulate. Again, regardless of the players (does help to have quality) having the right instructions during pre-season and week to week training is where the foundations are built.
Clean sheets is up to the defence and up to Paul Robinson to trim down and stop getting beat from 30-40 yards out. But there's more to it. If we get over-run in midfield then its likely to cause more stress and pressure for the back four.
Will Boateng (offensive, yet apparently decent defensively too) play a part as the Man of Steel that we are crying out for?
All the top clubs have their bullish strong central midfielder that does the dirty work. We had Carrick, who was more Hoddle than he was Keane. Zokora is still a grey area. What kind of player will he be for us this season? He was bought in as the Carrick replacement of sorts - so no point in writing him off until the end of season 2008.
One thing is for sure. If Spurs can dominate teams for prolonged periods (at home) why do we struggle to get hold of the ball just after we take the lead? Its the main fix IMO.
Be ruthless, swagger with effect and bully the opposition. At 0-0, at 1-0, and at 2-0 and so on.
Its the mental block that also costs us when we lead against the top 4. Its lack of self belief.
Again, no new players will sort this out. The manager must.
Over to you big bear....