I'll get around to writing up my own opinions on the the recent 'activity' (scoff) relating to the transfer window once I've returned from my travels. Will not be around to preview/watch/report on the Blackburn game either, so when I'm back I might just ask you lot to let me know how badly we played.
Ah, don't fret, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. We'll do just dandy with our strike-force, I promise.
Talking of which, I will say this about the January Transfer window; Not resolving the fabled forward conundrum will only make finishing in the Top 4 that ever so sweeter.
Just work with me, nod and pretend you agree.
So, moving swiftly on, I've got another guest blog for you this evening. Having received a number of emails that consisted of people going mental over our apparent inability to target a player with genuine belief of signing him rather than appear scatter-gunned and desperate, this particular piece speaks up for the all the frustrated. We all know sometimes (considering we don't actually know what goes on behind the scenes, well, until 'arry let's us know) it's not as black and white as it looks when you're watching SSN or reading news updates. Sometimes, it's best turn up the colour and just see red.
Insert Andy Carroll joke here.
Enjoy the rant/knee-jerk. Agree, disagree, throw rotten fruit.
Dear Mr Levy (and indeed Mr Redknapp),
On behalf of the supporters of Tottenham Hotspur FC everywhere, thank you. Thank you for giving us back our Tottenham. Thank you for bringing back to us what it is to follow Spurs. Once more we can feel like we’re used to feeling, when thoughts of that cockerel-adorned crest come to mind, so again I say thank you. Thank you for re- introducing us to those familiar experiences of disappointment, wasted opportunities, expectations of mediocrity, and that gentle whiff of embarrassment. It’s clear that you realised we were starting to forget what success felt like, so the feelings had begun to be less raw. Less intense. We needed that glimpse of the promised land to remind us what we were missing. But now you have returned our club to us.
This transfer window, you could have led us down a path that would leave us uncomfortable, nervous and twitchy. A path of hope; not a path we were familiar with, prior to the last couple of years. But you saw our confused little faces, and said ‘No - this cannot go on’.
Despite our recent comparative success, certain flaws in our team have been evident to all but the most blinkered of observer. For example, the lack of specialist cover at left-back is one area which patently needs addressing, yet due to the flexibility of players like William Gallas and Younes Kaboul this is an area that could wait until the Summer. There is, however, one area that could not wait. Not if we were to stand any chance of retaining our position among the Champions League elite next season. Not if we were to stand any chance of winning any silverware in the short-to-medium term. Not if we were to avoid a decline from which it will be very difficult to return. That area; the one of greatest importance and urgency; is in the forward line. The strikers.
Firstly, let me illustrate my point using some statistics about our strikers. The combined number of league goals that have been scored this season by the three senior strikers currently on our books totals six. That is less league goals between them than Gareth Bale has scored on his own. One third less league goals between them than Rafael Van der Vaart has scored on his own. Aaron Lennon, about whom it has often been said (incorrectly in my opinion) that he lacks a final ball, has managed half as many goals on his own as our entire strike-force. Even Alan Hutton, our full-back, has managed two league goals. All of these players have scored more league goals this season than either Peter Crouch or Jermain Defoe. At the moment, Crouchy couldn't introduce a banjo to a bovine posterior if they both had name-badges and a bloke at the door announcing them like one of those Cinderella ballroom scenes.
I think this point needs even greater context. At Chelsea, the attacking line of Drogba, Anelka and Kalou have managed 20 league goals, and this is considered to be a poor return this season. They have just added to this strike-force to the tune of £50 million. At Manchester City, Tevez and Balotelli alone have 19 league goals. They too have gone to significant expense to secure a front-line striker in this window in the form of Edin Dzeko. In the red half of that city, the combination of Berbatov, Hernandez and Rooney (in a tricky season for the England striker) have managed 28 league goals. And our natural enemies from up the road have seen 21 league goals scored by Chamakh, Van Persie, Walcott and Bendtner.
Even Liverpool, who have had a woeful first half of the season by their standards, have seen 15 league goals scored by Torres, Kuyt and Ngog. They may have subsequently lost Torres to Chelsea, but they have replaced him with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Remind me, weren’t both of those players linked with us during this transfer window? And how have we enhanced our striking options during this oh-so-important period? By getting rid of Robbie Keane and Giovanni Dos Santos.
Just for a one further reference point, in the 2007/2008 season, our four strikers managed 40 league goals. I’ll say that number again. 40. See the difference?
I don’t think I can make the point any clearer than this: without a first-class strike-force, you will not achieve anything in football. Even if your defence is water-tight (and ours has been anything but this season), it takes goals to win games. It takes wins to achieve league success. It takes league success to maintain European football. And it takes European football to maximise turnover and attract top players. Success breeds success. And it all grows from scoring goals.
And what is the core reason for our failure to secure a top class striker in January? Because we persist in playing this ridiculous game of chicken with other clubs at the transfer deadline. Quite frankly, it’s pathetic. Other fans laugh at us. The BBC Live Text used the following simple phrase to sum up our desperate last-minute scramble to secure Charlie Adam: So near. So far. So Tottenham.
Does it give you some kind of buzz to see how near to the final second you can push it? Is it the gambler in you? Is it the chance that a last minute deal can open opportunities for a bargain? Because let me clarify this for you. Rafael Van der Vaart was a one-off. It was the exception, rather than the rule. It was a freak of modern football, and was rightly lauded as such.
If you leave it too late for other clubs to find a replacement, or so late that administrative problems can scupper the deal, you are left with nothing. You are standing empty-handed; with a pile of cash burning a hole in your pocket; cash which you will be simply throwing away in May when we finish 5th in the League. Or even worse, 8th. And let’s be clear, missing out on European football next season altogether is far from out of the picture.
Congratulations. You have gambled away tens of millions of pounds of Champions League revenue for the chance of saving one or two million. Sound business sense? I think not. It’s like me heading to the bookies and putting a grand on a bet that might return a hundred, but at ridiculously bad odds.
Stop this. Stop it now. When you have an opportunity, do the deal. Secure the players we need to take us to the next level, or even maintain us at this level. Make sure of our future success, rather than throwing it away.
And just out of curiosity, what were we going to do with Charlie Adam? He’s a great player don’t get me wrong. But is he simply cover for Huddlestone? Cover that is so much better than Jenas, Palacios, Sandro, O’Hara or any of the other multitude of centre-midfielders we have, that it is worth concentrating on that deal rather than making one last push to get a forward in? And what do we do when Thudd is fit again? Consign Adam to the bench? Drop Huddlestone? Or shift to an even-more centre-heavy formation of 4-6-0? Hell, why not? The strikers aren’t delivering anyway.
According to the press, we have been linked with Dzeko, Suarez, Carroll, Aguero, Fabiano, Forlan, Llorente, Rossi, Lukaku and countless others in this transfer window. It’s clear that you thought about the problem. But this is one of those cases where it’s NOT the thought that counts. To dare is to do. We didn’t think you’d dare pass up this chance to save the season and cling onto Champions League football. But you did it.
So yeah, thanks a lot.
Also, catch up on Chris King's guest blog on the same subject here.