Wilson Palacios is a legend
With a couple of months to go before pre-season kicks off, I thought it best to spread the season review and 'awards' across several blog articles. Keep things short and snappy (for a change).
So first up the first batch of player awards.
Best Summer Signing
Lickle Luka Modric. The impish looking lad that was written off before he even kicked a ball in the EPL. Not strong enough cited old man Wenger from the depths of his swamp. He'd be blown away like a crisp packet in a storm if you cared to believe some of the punditry dished out early season. And there were moments when we almost believed it to be true as we held our heads in our hands watching Spurs slump from one game to the next. Luka, looking lost and struggling. And then in came saviour Harry and with each passing game the Croatian began to find his feet and dink about with confidence. All thanks to a little bit of balance and team structure. From the left, cutting in with purpose, there was plenty of crafting and clever balls and the odd goal too. There is absolutely no doubting this blokes ability and he has conducted play from midfield with freedom and much glee giving us a spark that most thought had gone with Berbatov's departure to United. He took time to settle, as expected, and has proven he has a touch of the world class about him. Lovely player, proper Tottenham sort, who will no doubt improve further next season and grab a few more goals. Luka Moddle indeed.
Difficult one this. Should the accolade be awarded to someone who has played few games based on the fact they are woeful or someone who has been selected time and time again regardless of the fact they are woeful? Or perhaps it should be given to the player who played several games whilst being woeful and then hardly figured after that. Such was the woefulness.
Step forward, Mr David Bentley. Personal problems have been cited along with the pressures of a massive transfer fee as the main excuses for his non-existent form. Others would suggest being played out on the left-hand side destroyed him. So what exactly happened to Beckham MkII? Where did it all go wrong?
Much like most of the side in those opening eight games, there was no cohesion or belief. But where others clawed their way back up from mediocrity, Bentley was left behind with his head buried in the sand. He was devoid of all the basics. Simple passes and crosses were an impossible tasks for the lad. Everything had to be Hollywood and came off looking a ITV. That Goal against Arsenal could have been and should have been the opportunity to reclaim some of the hype, but alas, it wasn’t to be. He got worse with each game. The worst of them, a depressingly bad display against Burnley in the home leg of the semi-final.
For the money spent on a player that was not a necessity in the first place who then found himself pushed out of the right side to make way for a blistering Aaron Lennon, you feel his dream move turning into a nightmare was possibly the reason his fragile ego collapsed with no apparent sign of recovery. It's looking highly likely that Bentley will be sold on - for a loss - in the summer, allowing Harry to sign another right-back (probably).
It's been shambloic.
Best Comeback Player
According to Alan Hansen, Gomes was the worst Premier League goal keeper he had ever seen. This coming from a man who played in a side with Bruce Grobelaar in goal. There is no doubting the fact that our Brazilian lank was the very definition of calamity during the period of time that we took backwards steps away from the upper regions of the table. He likes punching the ball. And he likes running out, jumping, and claiming it. In a winning side that defends well, you can do this sort of clean-up work with that extra buzz of confidence instilled by the fact that all is well and you're protected. When the team is crap and you make a mistake or two then the mistakes keep on rolling, especially when you start thinking too much instead of reacting instinctively.
It gets even worse when you try even harder to do your job - all eyes on you, the slightest normal run of the mill error suddenly becomes yet another joke piece of goalkeeping. The media are relentless with the jokes and comedy commentary. But rather apologetically implode like Paul Robinson did, Gomes knowing and believing he is a player of quality, dug deep. And even when the media ignored his improvement and concentrated on any little thing ('oh look he came for the ball and didn't quite make contact no other keeper ever does that') he continued to work hard until it was impossible for anyone to ignore his assured confidence and superb smart saves. With several clean sheets and a big smile, Gomes has been outstanding for us.
His spirit should be commended.
Best Winter Signing
When Wilson Palacios was signed, various sound bites did the rounds.
"£14M? It's madness!"
"He looked great at Wigan because he's a good player in an average team"
The usual 'OMG what have we gone and done?' reactions followed thanks to the countless inflated transfer fees spent on players not worth even a quarter of the price.
Yet it wasn't long before Wilson marshalled the midfield like a general. He displayed qualities that we had only ever seen in those rare blink and you'll miss 'em moments. But now we were being spoilt by the bite and tenacity on show. With all the money that has been at our disposal over the years and the incriminating evidence in the way of weak performances proving our backbone was softer than a teddy bear sleeping on a sea of feathers, why had it taken so long to sign a player of his ilk? Palacios has brought composure and discipline allowing others to blossom offensively while he bosses the park, crunching tackle here and block there and clever professional foul over there. Staggering that we have failed to fill this gap time and time again. It was a risk to spend the money that we did on The Panther, but then having spent an abundance on players in the past the risk was only ever going to be more egg on an already egg covered face.
Palacios has been undoubtedly one of the signings of the season. You wonder how the likes of Arsenal, desperate for a defensive/holding midfielder, didn't smart their way to his signature. Spurs finally have a tough hard working warrior who constantly puts himself about for the team. Selfless and proud. A proper player that has given us an air of authenticity in the way of fight and that we can now handle ourselves against teams that would usually brush us aside. Bring in another player with this type of winning mentality and slot him by the side of Wilson and our midfield might just explode with challenging class.
Next up - Player of the Year, Goal of the Season and more.