Was going to write up an award-style blog looking back at 2009 and it's highlights but thanks to some inspiration I'm opting to go instead with a heroes/villains piece. A sort of player-by-player review and accompanying aspirations for each individual for the year ahead.
Gomes - Hero
All gone a little quiet hasn't it? We usually have to listen to plenty of 'ooh look he's flapping' sound bites when commentators knee-jerk as per their contractual mantra on being overly critical of our Brazilian import and his keeping abilities. Okay, so he was a bit shaky for a time and struggled with the odd injury and brought it on himself, but he's not only dug deep, he's fought hard to reclaim some pride and done so with some breathtaking saves and some consistency with decision making. He has personality, and unlike Robinson before him, he has belief and it's a true testament to his character that he has rebuilt himself in this fashion. He has captured the types of headlines that made him a transfer target in the first place. On form, he wins us points. And he's on form. We do not need David James.
Do more in 2010: Instinctive out of this world shot-stopping, and the simple things.
Do less of in 2010: Crying, using brain in scenarios where there is too much time to think.
Bentley - Villain
I have nothing personal against David Bentley. I don't know him. I know of him only by what he does on the pitch and how he presents himself as a Tottenham player in the public eye. So at the moment it's fair to say he's coming across as a bit of an apologetic prick. We've been here so many times with David, trying to figure out what's going on in that head of his. Dealing with facts, pure footballing facts, he's been the ultimate flop. Claims to be a Spurs fan, dream move, la la la, and apart from that goal he's struggled to find an ounce of self belief that would help elevate his confidence to a passable level.
He has attempted to showboat himself out of trouble and it's been one face palm on top of another. But then it's not all his fault. Yes, that's right, let's pin it on the DoF system and Comolli simply because everything is the fault of the Frenchman. Making a 'big money name player of the moment' signing in the wake of Robbie Keane leaving for Liverpool. A player who can only play right-wing and but is hardly a wing-wizard. There is no doubt he has ability. And you'd think, Bentley cross + Crouch head = Goal goal goals. But alas, he's either injured or on the bench and rarely showing any signs of life.
Even with Azza out, I'd much prefer to see Niko and Modric in the starting line-up rather only one of the two Croatians and Bentley slotting in on the right.
Time to end this. Reserve team football to Sunderland perhaps. Not sure I see the point in loaning him out to anyone. Get something back for our troubles. Anything. Let’s face it, it won’t be £15M.
Do more in 2010: Play football rather than play football from memory.
Do less of in 2010: Star jumps, lurking on rooftops, living in skips.
Jenas - Dysfunctional side-kick
The definitive poster-boy is still in Lilywhite. You know what, I can never imagine him wearing another shirt. Honestly, don't mean to scare you, but he's become synonymous with Tottenham. He's like the physical representation of the club. Promises much, delivers little. And with the club showing (dare I say it) signs of changing, perhaps its time for us to firm-handshake and man-hug a goodbye to JJ - who bless him, remains in a state of flux. Apparently, he's a good player. So say all managers who have managed him. I guess he must be something akin to Pele out on the training pitch. But when he was once upon a time a first team starter, he's seen himself relegated and lost in the mighty big shadow of Tom Huddlestone.
So, what does Jenas do exactly? Splits fans, as ever. And it's been discussed to death. He was meant to be the complete midfield. Box to box, defend, attack, score. He's got the lungs. But he lacks the heart. What we get instead is plenty of potential and little end product. But that term, 'potential', is very much an easy way out, forgiving his inconsistency. Fact is, if he doesn't fulfil expectations perhaps its because those expectations are beyond him. When JJ 'turns it on' he's immense. And the mistake made is expecting or believing that particular version of JJ is the one he should be producing week in and week out. The reality is different. Jenas may well be an average player who once in a while excels to giddy heights. Or maybe, just maybe, he's a good player - not good enough for the Top 4, but good enough for teams outside of the cartel and one that won't be plucked away from us, in the same fashion as Carrick was. This can't be as good as it gets, can it?
Every summer we say 'this is the year for him'. I've been saying it for 4 years now. And still we wait. I like him. I wish he was arrogant, I wish he was a piece of shit personality wise. Driven by the desire to be the very best. Look at Lampard of Gerrard. In comparison, there is no comparison.
At the moment, Hudd offers more than JJ does.
Do more in 2010: Tackle boy, don't be afraid, you're not going to hurt it. It feels no pain. It's a football. It loves to be treated rough.
Do less of in 2010: Playing hide and seek out on the pitch. WE CAN SEE YOU, THERE'S NOWHERE TO HIDE.
Palacios - Hero
Here's to a better 2010 for Wilson. Last year was not a good one for the lad and his performances since very early season have been a mix bag. Maybe not as disciplined or sharp with his passing as he can be when completely on top of his game. He's been off-key. But he still brings something to the side that we have lacked for an age. He's a beast. A brick wall. The defensive enforcer we have desperately wanted for. Even a Wilson at 60% is better than a Zokora at 80% (although if we are talking pure comedy and dancing then obviously Wilson is rubbish in comparison). Harry has to get him playing with discipline again. The second part of the season needs us to be completely on top of our game and with Modric back and Niko looking to play a part in the same line-up, we have to be strong in the centre. Is another DM on the way? Sandro? I'd go with that if whomever arrives is an understudy for Palacios. He needs a time out every now and again. He is vital to our midfield and our progression. But he is one man. And no, bringing back Jamie O'Hara is not the answer to the understudy question.
Do more in 2010: Bite. Bite them. Bite all of them.
Do less of in 2010: Air miles. Any chance we can move all Honduran international games to London?
Crouch, Defoe, Kranjcar, Hutton, Huddlestone, Pavlychenko, Bassong, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Woodgate, Bale, Lennon, Keane, Modric, Giovani and Dawson to follow...