Transfer deadline day brain Vaart
Chaotic. You have to scratch your head and wonder about it all, mainly because none of it appears to follow any type of outlined plan written up in the THFC War Room long before battle commences.
"The Premier League are understood to be investigating what Spurs claim were difficulties involving computer servers used in the transaction between themselves and Real, which hindered their attempts to submit the relevant paperwork on time."
Dead line missed. Special dispensation requested. 25 man squad to be named by 5pm. Tick tock tick tock. Drama.
We've been chasing players for a while. Harry wanted Bellamy. Harry wanted Parker. We supposedly inquired about Fabiano. Adebayor another linked one. We've signed a defender, a goal-keeper and a central midfielder. The defender on a free (Gallas), the keeper is extra-extra cover (Pletikosa) and the midfielder was tied up an age ago (Sandro) so good to see him finally arrive from Brasil (having just won the Copa Libertadores title with Internacional).
We've plugged the holes that needed plugging. Perhaps not perfectly, but plugged nonetheless. CB cover was imperative. We probably still need to look at this area going forward, what with Woodgate on the verge of retirement and King's knee. But for now, for the present, the signing of Gallas might yet prove to be one of shrewd astuteness that will bring much need leadership and experience. Tantrums and tears the risk.
Pletikosa is there just in case he's required, what with all the extra games to be played this season and Gomes softy soft skeleton. Sandro is someone I'm immensely looking forward to seeing. I know there is plenty of talk about him taking time (understandably) to settle in England, acclimatise and gradually be introduced into the fold - but he strikes me as a strong personality, one that won't need to be wrapped up in cotton wool. He's built for the EPL. And with Wilson still struggling for composure, the sooner the better.
So, here's the crux of it.
The main hole to be plugged should have been upfront. There is nothing wrong with what we've got (opinions will vary on this from one fan to the next) but we could have really looked to make an impact with something fresh and new. Robbie Keane is spent at Spurs. Although if he's stuck with us until Christmas, he might get the opportunity to shut a few mouths by reclaiming some past form in Lilywhite. Pav (did he reject a move to Anfield?) remains an in-betweener. Sort of okay, sort of not. But he still scores but can sometimes appear to do very little else (Darren Bent anyone?). Crouch is important, as proven last season and this early this term too. And Defoe, for all his minor faults, will always score goals for us. Again, as witnessed last season.
But had we got hold of a brand spanking new forward, someone who could have offered a new dimension to our play, then we'd have been near enough complete. In the eyes of our manager. What with us quite blatantly going after Bellamy. It's an area he knows needs improving.
So no new striker. And to be honest, I'd rather not if there was no viable option for us. Although my argument would be - where are the scouts? We plucked Berbatov from the Bundesliga. Are we to believe that every potential new superstar forward out there is not only known to all, but also demanding excessive wages? Perhaps the risk here was too much. Hence the Bellamy chase.
And there is a distinct lack of targets at home. Babel? On his was to Upton Park in a helicopter apparently, but didn't fancy it, although we (according to Harry) were interested, but didn't get anywhere near discussing a deal. All very meh. Half-arsed. Potential panic buy. But then football is made up of last gasp signings (did we not fail in our bid to sign Ricketts and eventually end up with Keane?)
The Parker Saga is one of much confusion. West Ham friend says he's hardly an update on Palacios and wouldn't offer Spurs as much as he offers WH, because at WH the player is so much better than the ones who line-up alongside him. But then in Harry we trust, and we've all seen players leave one club to turn it on for another, and prove people wrong. How exactly and where exactly was he meant to fit in, I don't know.
Nobody has actually left us, from the list of players tagged with the deadwood label. We can't argue that we don't retain depth, probably too much now. No reserve team for the fringe first team squad players to run around and kick a ball in. So our gaffers man-management skills will be worked over-time. Still, I expect plenty of activity with departures come Jan 2011.
So what exactly was our strategy with consolidation and squad improvement?
The conclusion of the crux is that once more, deadline transfer day proves that when you fail to sign the players you actually wanted in the weeks/months leading up to the 6pm deadline - you just hope for some form of luck or inspired out-of-the-hat unplanned signing, not to appease anyone or just for the sake of it - but end up with something unexpected, which is too good to turn down because it will work in our favour, and do so wonderfully well. One new player at the Lodge, several new options on the field of play.
Rafael van der Vaart. Out of the blue.
Well actually, out of the white storm of Real Madrid. 6pm deadline gone, but since around 4pm on the day, we were attempting to fix up the transfer and get all paper work sorted to beat the clock to sign the player up.
Had we not gone in for him, we'd be all pretty much dejected that nothing much happened on a day of untold expectations. Apparently it was a loan deal initially, then a transfer, although the other suggestion is he was on his way to Munich for £18M (denied by Real Madrid) and that he was then available for just £8M. Levy told Harry, Levy asked Harry if he fancied it. Harry said yes.
Some of you might ask - why? Is it because of the quality on offer, for so little? Did Harry stop to think where and how he would play VdV in our line-up? Would signing the player have a detrimental effect on other players in our squad and their status? Is there a list Levy has drawn up of potential players we'd be interested in if they are suddenly available (not the first time we've flirted with players from Real - so perhaps they've kept in contact with us and vice versa) and Rafael was on that list?
I doubt very much we'd buy a player and not actually consider the impact on first team selection. VdV in the hole behind the forward(s)? On the left hand side (as played by Madrid before Ronaldo was signed)? I hope Harry plans to put his arms around Niko and give him a massive reassuring hug.
We have ridiculous options in central and midfield attacking positions now. VdV is the type of player who can bring some dynamicism to our play. And set-pieces. We have an abundance of creativity of differing guises. The craft and dinking runs of Modric, the beastly power yet sublime touch of Bale, the majesty of Huddlestone's long range to feet passing and disguised angled balls, the speed and tricksy twisting and turning of Lennon and now the technical guile and the versatility of VdV. 4-5-1 would be sweet, but we don't quite have a lone man striker good enough to slot into that spearhead position.
We're not short with other backups. We've got box to box midfielder Jenas. Ball in a skip Bentley. And Jamie Tenacity O'Hara. Hell, dos Santos might even turn into more than just a wildcard this season.
DM wise, you'd think with Sandro and Wilson (if he recovers from his current fragmented play and loss of confidence) we are fixed up. Harry has to sort out the Palacios conundrum because if we're going to hold down our place in the Champions League, we need him to regain the form he possessed when we first signed him. No good having superb footballers if we haven't got a protector screaming you shall not pass at opposing players, standing firm behind them.
It's now up to the front men to find that ruthless streak. One player short of the perfect deadline transfer day. But considering the lack of activity at certain other clubs, I'm not half as disappointed as I should be. We've ended up with a game-changer, perhaps even a talismanic one (something I've banged on about all summer long).
Is he world class? For a long time he was all hype, plenty of promise, but little fulfilment. The defintive under-achiever. But there is no doubt he has allowed his quality to shine through in recent seasons. He's worked hard at it. This will work out just fine.