Summer is finally here. It's hot and humid and all windows in my home are open to allow for some desperate ventilation to ease the sweat and stickiness. That other window that frequents the summer months is also open and Paulinho has climbed through it. Not literally, that would be breaking and entering. The Brazilian box to box midfielder has signed and for once there is no protracted saga that runs and runs like Forrest Gump. At least there are plenty of smiley faces.
One down, two or three or perhaps four more to go. Slow news day (new Spurs kit launching today. I'm going to hazard a guess the colours white and blue are involved), so here's yet another summary of our squad and positional targets.
This is the way I see it (strongest players):
That's if we line-up with a 433. That's if AVB plans to use Paulinho as part of a 3-man midfield. Might be that one of Paulinho or Dembele start with a more tradtional 4-man midfield line-up.
Sigurdsson, Holtby and Dempsey are the other midfield options. Livermore a stretch. Carroll a hope. Parker, Huddlestone possibly on their way out.
Dawson and Caulker, central defence backups.
Hard to know at this stage whether Rose and Naughton are going to be part of the fold.
Townsend 'flank' cover. We'll find out just how good he is and to be more precise, if he's good enough.
Adebayor and Defoe the forwards. Both linked with moves away. Both unlikely to leave (based on the fact that I won't believe they are leaving until someone else arrives).
So, we need:
A forward/striker - simply because two players (both very different in style) are not enough to compete of four fronts. 25+ goals man the dream.
Promotion of a youth keeper or a young signing to fit in-between Lloris and Friedel.
Fullbacks - Ideally, cover for both left and right. But it's far more likely that Kaboul will cover the right and Verts will still deputise on the left. Not the best solution for consistency. Naughton/Rose, not up to the standard required.
Central midfield is looking strong and robust. However, another injury to Sandro means we don't have a truly like for like player to replace him - unless Paulinho is asked to adapt. Parker has had his day, might work as cover, but as witnessed last season - he lacks the discipline he once possessed (not to mention tired old legs which he most definitely does possess).
Holtby, a player that I'm looking forward to seeing (properly this season) could be an option in a deep-lying position - but more Luka than Parker. Sure, his tireless running and energy is inspiring if untidy, but there's a cultured player in there that we've boxed up and have yet to release. Could never do a 'Sandro' job anyway and has to be played more offensively but we could utilise some of that energy to hassle players, win the ball, then seek that pass/movement forward. I said he's an option but ideally, he'd have Sandro (or a defensive mid) doing the dirty work for him.
The flanks are strong (Bale, Lennon, Townsend) - but wishing for something extra special here. As I've discussed countless times, that missing craft and creativity we desire (think something in the middle of Modric and van der Vaart) as another outlet (rather than just waiting for Bale to do something) is imperative. As we've gone for power in the centre, having a 'Isco' type of attacking midfielder would give us a true edge. Just where exactly do you find a Isco type player that wont cost nigh £30M.
Lennon's worth ethic is undeniable, but we need to match (or attempt to) Bale's game-changing ability by balancing out the responsibility. It can't all fall onto one players shoulders...again.
It's worth noting the dynamic of the side is about to evolve. Dembele will have a more prominent offensive identity as he won't be shackled to the depths of midfield. Paulinho will give us box to box urgency with an eye for a forward pass and a shot on goal. Sandro will slot back into the beastly role that he dominated at last season pre-injury (fingers crossed there is no lasting damage on his return).
What is pivotal to this dynamic is the way it is led. For all the criticism aimed at the manner in which our forwards played (too deep, too isolated, not enough endeavourer in and around the box in terms of consistency) - Bale might not have had the season he had. He became a forward and was given the freedom to attack. There is nothing to suggest he can't continue in this manner, but what would aid the team more is if he had someone to aim for.
Defoe can't be that player because he struggles with the more astute movement the team requires from a forward for shape to be retained. JD, very good at what he does but what he does has to fit his ability rather than select him and make him adapt to the game. At times last season he did produce moments which suggested he has improved, but at his best he's an impact player and one that can change a game. From the bench.
Adebayor possesses the qualities but last season was hardly in the groove until the very end. First season form is usually only a one time pleasure with him, so we're going to need him to do something he isn't known to do - repeat it in his third season.
Overall, AVB has to get us to move the ball around with far more fluidity and urgency. No point looking like a powerful side and playing powderpuff football. Bully the opposition into submission.
So to sum it up. We need (as priorities) -
A creative/attacking midfielder
One of each to complete the set.
We need to be catching more than rays this summer time. Hopefully we won't spend too much time basking in the sun, leaving ourselves burnt to a crisp come September.