Time for the King to abdicate his throne
We won't know Ledley King's decision until pre-season when he decides whether to finally hang up his boots and take one of the options Spurs have offered him, hopefully a coaching role. You don't have to do much reading between the lines here. It's obvious the club and the player believe it's time to hang up the boots. However, the last sentence from the official club update is the one that manages to help retain a smile on my face.
"Tottenham has been the only Club for me and if I can’t play here then I shall look to be involved in another capacity."
Ledley might not reappear in a Lilywhite shirt on the pitch (aside from a testimonial please) but his heart will always be Tottenham off it. Keeping him on at Spurs is imperative. The man lives for the club and we love him for it so it's a pretty obvious way to continue the affair. Quite simply the best defender of his (England) generation. The most obvious thing to echo here would be the what ifs. You know, what if he had two working knees. I was looking back at the archives of this blog and found an article from 2009. An article that could have been written for any one of the past five years.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:03PM
I'm a bit bored at the moment. There's a slight lull in stories worthy of commentary. Other than maybe the news that Ledley King could play in the remaining 10 fixtures for Spurs. According to our oracle of football, Harry Redknapp. This following on from the recent lack of contract talks that won't be taking place just yet between club and player.
King (with Spurs no longer having midweek games to concern themselves with) can now look forward to Ledders being available once per week with plenty of recovery time in-between. As long as the old knee doesn't give way. Is he prolonging the inevitable? Is he sustaining long term permanent damage to his knees every time he plays for us? How long will he persist with this? Equally important to ask whether Spurs will have to make a decision on King's future based on his availability. You can't build a defence around a part-time player. But when the player is this good, do you allow for a concession? Heart says yes. So does the head, but more so the heart.
As for the potential of a new contract, that really depends on whether this is it for the rest of his career. This being 'play when injected with magic' but only half the time and never twice in a week. It's sad. A fully fit Ledley King would be a fully fledged England international. And probably a Man Utd player. But there's no doubt he'd be a defender at the top of his game with countless clubs courting him - in a world with no knee trouble. He's still capable of exceptional performances for us - but still in a part-time capacity. Which is why we are probably not reading a Daniel Levy club announcement justifying a £25M transfer of King to Old Trafford.
What we have instead is a loyal committed servant who gets wrapped up in cotton wool more often than running out in Lilywhite. As long as he is not aggravating his knee problems with the injections and continuing to play professional football then I'm happy to have him at the club and the club should make sure he remains there till he hangs his boots up. I hope there is not a single ounce of truth that doctors advised him to quit or risk serious damage.
Also, I'm not suggesting Ledley is still with us only because of his injury plight. The bloke is no Sol Campbell. Ledley is honest and loves the club. He wants to be at White Hart Lane and in the past possibly could have flirted with a Champions League club if he wanted to. But if he was 110%, he'd be tested, along with the chairman. That's a sure thing. But he'd never walk the way Judas did. Personally hope he does start the big big away games we have at Villa, Everton, Man Utd and Liverpool. Dawson is a fine understudy to have on current form. I'm still staggered by the fact that King never trains.
It dawned on me that it almost feels like his entire career has been dominated by his plight. I can't remember when he didn't have a dodgy knee. Every season it's the same struggles and yet aside from the difficulties experienced this past year, he has been majestic and graceful with the sublime ability to read the game seconds faster than those around him. He went beyond the usual blood-and-thunder-feet-in grunting of the more obvious centre-halves. Didn't need to tackle as much as others either, he just got to the ball before the attacker did. His back pocket rarely empty. His pace was like lightning dancing on a sea of electricity. You know what I'm referring to. Stuff like the Robben tackle. A piece of defending as great as any goal scored. That was King all over. The impossible made easy. You'd run, he'd jog right past you.
When he didn't play well, you couldn't quite believe it, such was the rarity of such a performance. Listen to me, talking about him like he's no longer with us. Still, we knew this moment was coming. He's got to do the right thing for himself. He's a club legend. So it's good to see the club actively seeking to retain his services. They failed to do the same with Stevie Perryman (get well soon).
I don't think it really matters, the what ifs. Fact is, he could have so easily given up years ago, lost focus or allowed his fitness to fade away due to lack of game time. There he was though, never having to train and yet playing like he hasn't stopped training. Every single season he's pulled on the shirt and he's been a colossus at the back. Such an influence, a true club captain. For the good of his own well being and Spurs going forward, it's time for new blood. Kaboul, Caluker, perhaps even Vertonghen could probably do with having someone of King's stature at the club as a nod towards what you can achieve as a player in the most purist form. That's unequivocal commitment to the Cockerel. If they get within 50% of what Ledley has given through sheer guts and heart then both will be very successful at Spurs.