There continues to be much debate about the Rafa van der Vaart conundrum. He brings in-balance to the side. He can't last the full distance. He's a selfish egotist that places himself above others including the club. His lack of conforming to formational positioning can lead to goals conceded. He scores goals, but what else does he do? One trick pony they say.
Okay, so, I'm highlighting various arguments in isolation and if you wanted to be pedantic about it people who are overly pro-Rafa completely ignore his weaknesses and the strengths of others. Welcome to the headaches of football management. But get this...all players have weaknesses, imperfections.
Not everyone is complete in what they have to offer. Modric is good on the left wing, very good when he cuts in from the left wing. But place him in the middle and let him recycle possession with ample doses of Barcelonaesque push and run touches and he's great. But he doesn't get into goal scoring opportunities often enough and his shooting boots are not always polished. Yet he has been known to score a corker or two. Then again, why should he be expected to score a bundle when he's primary responsibility is to play make from deep? Still, get enough Spurs lads in a room and they will still argue and shout about the negatives rather than simply embrace the positives.
I'm not suggesting that Rafa doesn't have any negatives, just that perhaps all the hype around his role in the team tends to be lopsided towards the fact that we are supposedly better with two up front.
Jermain Defoe is in form, in that when he's played recently he looks zesty and has that burst of pace and shot that usually results with a goal. He blows hot and cold and there's a solid argument that when he
blows hot we should make sure we use him effectively before the icicles return and leave him frozen in a permanent state of offside.
Hindsight is the usual tool dusted off post-game to argue the merits of either players. Now you might want to perhaps look towards Harry Redknapp and question if he is strong enough to handle the personalities we have at the club and controlling tactics to the teams best interests rather than accommodating players for the sake of it. Harry might not be the most tactically astute. He might wing it from time to time. But his track record would either suggest he does know what he's doing or that the sheer abundance of quality we posses means we rarely get unstuck. More fine tuning and we might elevate ourselves further.
But removing the managerial element and simply looking at van der Vaart as a player - he is pretty much
undroppable. In my opinion, you cant drop a player in form (more so in form than Defoe) who can't stop scoring.
In fact, he's practically a forward with his ratio of goals scored. He's a born winner that wants to play, always wanting to play and always wanting to lead. Something we have lacked many times in the past. I've used the word 'galvanise' one thousand times before and I'll use it again because that's what he does.
Dropping Rafa to make room for Defoe doesn't equate to logic. Perhaps sometimes he goes missing and he might not defend as brightly (if at all) compared to other players. But check this out: He's a flipping attacking midfielder, he attacks. He attacks the penalty area, he attacks space, he looks for assists and looks to get on the end of assists. He's a forward focused machine, be it one that runs out of gas and needs to be parked up but then having to make a substitution late on in a game is not a strong enough reason to leave him on the bench to start with.
He does cover a fair bit of ground too. Drops deep. This is where you might question how much influence Harry has over Rafa and if he is instructed to go on a wander or if he does so because that's what Rafa likes to do. If played out on the wing, much like Modric, he probably doesn't fit in as effectively. Imperfections. Maybe Rafa does defend more and work harder than we give him credit for. A forward focused attacking midfielder who drops back into deeper positions. If he didn't drop back so often he might not be as effective.
There is valid reason for us to sometimes start with two forwards up top. Long season, plenty of games,
players need to be rotated to retain freshness. With Rafa, at the minute, I'd sacrifice that to allow him to continue to puncture games with his brilliance because when we're not performing all that well, to have such a player in the team that is capable of winning it for us can not be ignored. There's never any guarantee that two players up top will make a bigger impact. Strikers have been known to offer nothing but a goal from time to time. It's about getting the job done, and he does just that.
Having a free-scoring midfielder that turns up no matter the opposition, home or away, big or small - it's something that should be celebrated. You have to love Spurs. We have problems scoring one season and then have problems making room for goal scorers the next.
So just stick a smile on your face.