Our midfield conundrum festers deep. Sadly there's no playmaker back there.
The long running debate (that I have with myself) is having not replaced Luka Modric (locksmith, creative nucleus of side) with a like for like midfielder and having Bale take the mantle of talismanic player (a role van der Vaart enjoyed for 70 mins of any given game he played well in) - what is the blueprint AVB is working towards for this season and the future?
We are collecting big, strong, physical players at the heart of the side. Players capable of offensive intent, but direct and not subtle in delivery of pass or movement.
What I mean is, a more creatively inclined footballer will tick the team over with his movement, with the movement of the ball and with vision - to carve something out of nothing. Arguably, Sandro/Dembele/Paulinho will bring the ball out of midfield, attack space in a more aggressive manner, look for a pass or lay off or shot - rather than magic something up deeper and move with the passage of play to make sure the trick has an explosive ending.
time we moved on (I've tried moving on a few times) from the way
the side was structured with Modric in the middle? Is it simply a case that we do not need that type of player or do we bide our time and watch one of the current squad members blossom into a similar role?
If that creative outlet is instead width with bullish power down the middle, then it's imperative that our wide players are effective and that our strikers are adaptable. Adebayor can drift, we know that, he does that more often than spending time in and around the box. Soldado and Defoe are more prominent in those very forward positions.
So again, I can't quite figure out how AVB plans to piece this altogether. Aside from my usual ramblings on needing a 'number 10' type of player (this could be Bale) or the necessity to sign another top drawer attacking/ wide forward (Lamela). That craft that I seek might well be width and pace in the way of powerful possession and aggressive counter attacking. Something promised to us when AVB first arrived.
I should freeze-frame this until the window is shut because it really
does make a massive difference if Bale stays/goes and what players we
seek to add onto the ever growing list of new signings.
Concerns are the ones that remain unsolved from last seasons evolutionary transition.
When teams sit deep, when we have the ball at feet, we have to be better in possession. Quick with movement. Something we lacked far too often last season. Hence the continued obsession with a Luka type of player. Maybe I'm understating in thought how Dembele and Paulinho will play. The system from the middle to the wings with wing backs in support and its connection to the forward(s) could just blow everything we know out of the water. The likes of Holtby and Sigurdsson could step up a level.
Holtby could work as a deep playmaker but he might be better higher up the pitch - what with Dembele more likely to sit deep with Sandro (as mentioned, both capable of then bringing the ball into forward positions). Sigurdsson was touted as a van der Vaart replacement, only because 1 + 1 = 2 when it comes to selling and buying players. He's not a replacement but he does have to show more consistency and effectiveness (across the full 90 - ironically, something van der Vaart struggled with thanks to injury). These two fit into the more obvious 'attack minded' players we have that can play in the hole behind the striker and directly in front of central midfield.
The cohesiveness of the team in defence and attack. Fluidity of movement with and without possession. Guile to break teams down then pressure them further. The basics (defending set pieces, the high line). The complexities of strategy and the simplicity of application. Effective rotation.
Somewhere in there, we're going to want some good old fashion Tottenham expression. A touch of swashbuckle. Expansive football at home. There has to be a middle ground between retaining shape and attacking with style without sacrificing too much in the way of points. Don't look at me for the answer, ask our coach.
AVB still has it all to prove.
We have so much to improve on. We need to be far more ballsy this season. I'm confident we can be. Not just because of the manner in which we've gone about our transfer window (buying and selling), but also because (with any luck) we can field a strong side this season with players in their strongest positions. Rather than players compensating for others.
We might take a few games to find a groove. There's a risk that with so many new players, the bedding in for some might cause some concerns. Add to it the possibly fragility of Kaboul and Sandro based on worst case scenario (post-injury). At the moment the spine of the team remains the same as it was last season, or as it should been last season. The new players, being the level of quality they are, should not really suffer when adapting. I'm side stepping this one a little as truth be told, I wouldn't be surprised of say Chadli took a while to settle in. If he does, he might provide that extra spark I lust for.
If we are to evolve into a side similar to AVB's Porto, then with further additions and some degree of patience - we could be duly entertained. We've remained competitive for a while now, always in amongst the top four battle. We can't control the form of others around us, which is why we should only ever compare ourselves to the last revision of THFC. Last seasons.
Best to freeze-frame again until next weekend. Even though I'll hazard a guess and say the side starting away to Palace won't be our strongest side. That will hopefully come post-closure of the window. Dare I suggest we keep feet on ground as supporters and remain patient.
Pumped for the season.