Will Spurs 'mix it up' with the Top 4 next season?
Nice little article by Fox Sports with Harry Redknapp. Read it in it's entirety here. My commentry below relates to the sound-bites/quotes Harry made during the interview about the work required pre-season with signing new players and the aim to push forward with some intent cometh next season.
"We'll be needing a few new faces around here, that's for sure"
"I know the spine of my team, the players I build it around every week, but I also know that there are several places I need to strengthen in, if I'm going to get this team challenging for proper honours"
Indeed. Centre-back, left-winger, central midfielder and a forward. And possibly another midfielder to cover Palacios. It's actually tricky to know who we plan to bring in as we don't quite know who will be sold.
Centre-back - We've got King, Woodgate and Dawson. We need another young quality defender as a long term Ledley replacement. I'm not keen on Corluka playing anywhere other than right-back.
Left-winger - We haven't had one of these for a while now. Again, it's dependent on whether Modric is set to remain out on the left and drift in. If he takes a role alongside Palacios then the money spent on a left-winger will have to be more substantial. Otherwise, a young up-and-coming player who is ok with a little bench warming might be the way to go.
Central-midfielder - Huddlestone and Zokora may well be on their way. The latter almost certain to go. If Hudd remains does he do so as cover for Wilson or cover for the position alongside him? Jenas played well with Palacios so he may well retain that role but the never-ending argument is that he is simply not consistent enough or bullish enough to be first choice. Which means we need someone with balls as big as our Honduran Panther with possibly a little more creative flair. Gareth Barryesque would do. Everton's Arteta is currently being linked, although something tells me this is agent talk so the player gets a nice new contract at Goodison Park. Unless they're skint, I can't see why they would want to sell. Whatever happens, this is the key to our success next season. We need a proper central midfield pairing, one that might not match Utd's or Liverpool's intensity over 38 games, but it's got to be able to compete comfortably with City, Everton and Villa.
Forward - Once we know where Bent and Pav's future lies then we'll know what type of player needs to be signed. JD and Keane will need a big strong more direct type of forward (but not the over-rated Jones or Cisse) or possibly a player of Berbatov's ilk. No pressure then. We also need to promote an academy player as a 4th choice option. This is the one key area that has me slightly concerned. We can not afford to make a mistake here. Not after the circus of last summers red-face disaster.
Stating the obvious with the above, and obvious is head-ache inducing.
As well as the team has progressed under Harry we still left lacking in certain positions. Simply put we are decent with what we have but only 6th place decent at the very best. Football is no longer a fair stage and competing with the Top 4 is becoming increasingly difficult thanks to the stepping-stone factor that we have experienced since Carrick left us for Utd. Signing players of that type of (potential) quality seems to be redundant if the team doesn't achieve instant success with them in it. There is no patience from the players. And too right some may argue because they know they can compete at the highest domestic level. The irony here is that how can we ever push on if they don't try to compete for that level with us? Constant re-building means that we are never out of transition.
So Harry and Levy have to be spot on with their signings. Otherwise, if we do falter again, then the likes of Modric and Palacios will start looking elsewhere for the silverware their agents will tell them they deserve.
Think of it like this. Look at Everton. They've held onto some of their star players for a while, but they will never be a Top 4 club because they can't attract Top 4 players. I don't mean this in a derogatory way because we are much the same in that we can't keep hold of Top 4 players we sign who then leave us to actually sign for a Top 4 club. So the only way (and I'm simplifying this) to break free is to actually get lucky and break up the monopoly the first time of asking if not the second.
Not easy is it? And while we re-build each season, the monopoly get stronger and stronger.
"I was looking at a player who'd come pretty well recommended to me recently. I flew to Italy to watch him in a game, but after ten minutes it was pretty clear that this was not a player I would want to sign. All the signs were wrong."
I like this. Because under the DoF that player would probably have been signed on the strength of Comolli or some random scout. Harry has bought some duffs in his career. Plenty in fact. But as Spurs are the biggest club he's ever managed (sorry Green Street, but its true) the pressure is a little more intense so I'm willing to bet we won't see any risk signings. Obviously, the Chimbonda fiasco remains the only hole in the wall of faith.
"I definitely have no regrets. This is a massive club. Great fans, plans for a new stadium and a properly run business. That's not to take away from Portsmouth or Southampton or West Ham. It's just that Tottenham was the logical next step for me and has been a massive challenge so far."
When asked where his next port of call will take him:
"No, no, Tottenham is the end of the road for me. It's a big setup here and I had to have a go, but when this is over, I'll move on and focus on other things."
For a media-loving sound-bite friendly football man, where better to strut and twitch your stuff than White Hart Lane? He'll never be offered a job at a Top 4 club (yes, I get the irony) so this is as good as it will get for him. And at least there's no chance of him doing a Judas and leaving to replace Wenger at Arsenal.
Think the pressure next season will be altogether something different. They'll be no-one to blame if we begin the season badly other than the man in the mirror. Hoping our pre-season is luke warm. God have mercy on our souls if we thrash Barcelona at Wembley 5-0.
"I don't pay much attention to what players do on the training pitch. It's a bit like the horses. They can look sensational at the gallops, but not perform on the day of the race."
I guess Harry just means that someone who trains brilliantly might bottle it on the pitch. Which is strange considering that Jenas is meant to be outstanding in training and bottles it on the pitch. Actually, I have no idea what Harry means with this particular statement.
"Like I say a couple of new faces here and there and I think we can really get in the mix. Of course I have to be realistic about what Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and the others can do, but I believe we can get amongst them."
Best we can do is 5th. That will be the same agenda for Everton, Villa and City. Other clubs will also look to push towards those European places below the top 4. We can't afford another disaster and waste another year. We have to compete. Like I've said before, 4th spot is only a possibility if Arsenal (or whoever) shag it up. But its unlikely. But not impossible. But it would mean our form would have to be outstanding at home and tenacious away. And this will be the result of the summer months and the master plan laid out by Harry to the players.
That master plan should simply be this: Forget about the Top 4 (Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal). Just get ahead of the teams (Everton, Villa, City) that aspire to be there.
It really is stand up and be counted once and for all time.