Fortune favours the bald
Let's see if I've got this.
All popular buzz words in a transfer window which promised so much early on then fell into stasis until Luka Modric's move to Real Madrid was finalised, for it to now come back to life. Although whether life here is a reawakening or something more akin to the zombie undead remains to be seen. And seen it will in the next...three days. That's three days to conduct more high end business in one window than we've conducted for years. In three days. All the missing ingredients for Villas-Boas to be armed and ready for battle, all the key areas that need strengthening will need to be strengthened in...three days. Sounds fairly ridiculous doesn't it? More so if you're already pessimistic and cite prior windows and lack of decisiveness display. But then most of the proposed deals have been long running, if you choose to believe the relentless media coverage this summer has blessed us with.
Yes, we've signed players in the past, of course we have. But we've been restrained in part, because of the uncertainty with the way business has been handles. Say, for example, the lack of a forward and the ongoing sagas pertaining to it. The reasons for this can either be blamed on the lack of apparent unity between Levy and Redknapp or perhaps the complexities of our finances. Just how much money do we have and how much of it can be spent on players? I believe there's money there. Quite obviously. We do well and we've already spent on quality this summer. But it seems it's a controlled budget accompanied by penny pinching. Which doesn't necessarily mean we're being tight. We're not bidding £25M for a player, because we probably can't afford to and if we do so it changes the bids we can afford to make on other targets.
Sure, our scouting system hasn't produced any surprise 'cheap' yet potential superstar acquisitions, aside from some of the broken youth players we pick up, mostly as an afterthought and not anywhere near first team cover. Perhaps the days of picking up a Modric or a Berbatov have gone what with the manner City sign players that in the past would have been shared across several top tier sides. It's all skewered and messed up. Something you can tag the transfer window with being thanks to it's culture of patience and kidology completed centered around it closing. And the fact clubs appear to be scared, for the most part, to do business well before that deadline.
Levy has to back Villas-Boas. The coach would not have taken the job if he believed our hands were tied financially to the point of head shaking despondency at not being able to bring in more players. Which means the nature of the transfer window has Levy playing his usual shrewd calculated tactics based on the fact that we haven't got money to spend over valuation. I've cited this already so I'm running with it. Although what exactly defines valuation is anyone's guess. We played hard ball with Madrid so other clubs are in their right to do the same with us. And what is market value? Are the supporters, the oracle of football, the ones that decide what constitutes value for money? I'm trolling. Clubs will pay and sell at what they believe to be fair where as others will accept gleefully stupid amounts of money because it's being offered to them. There is no balance or common sense most of the time. I guess the bargains are picked up from clubs that are desperate to sell because of debt.
And what of these other clubs? Porto wont sell Moutinho (who wants out) for anything less than their valuation which is more than we can afford. But are they reliant on seeing money come into the club this summer? Is it their preference to sell Hulk instead (who also wants out) to aid their finances and not take a hit to the style of play they are accustomed too? If Hulk doesn't move on because nobody wants him, Moutinho would because Spurs want him. And it favours Levy if Porto suddenly have to sell. It's not always about us holding back, the opposing club has it's own strategy and squad development to cater for. Which is why it builds up into a frenzy towards deadline day when the domino falls and everything ahead does the same.
In the past, under Redknapp, arguably there was no common ground found on targets. This time round, I don't expect the same under a new coach that is hungry to be successful and won't be able to achieve it without purchasing the right players for his system. So if Villas-Boas wants Moutinho and the club are 'talking' to Porto it's only wise we're doing the same with say Fulham over Dembele (I'm just going on hearsay with all this). Two deals ongoing, can't commit to either until that point in the window when a final decision just has to be made. Risky, isn't it? Not all targets can be signed with comfort early on. The ones we did had no obstacles in the way to delay getting that pen to paper. Even though Vert took an age to sign. But he wanted to sign and his club wanted to sell. Other things stopped it from happening. But even in a deal that was on course to happen, it still managed to stutter all the way till the end. Siggy was a far easier deal to conclude.
It's headache inducing and yet it can't really work in any other fashion. If there was no window players would hand in transfers requests during the course of the season. One thing we can all agree on is perhaps having the window close before the season starts rids the debate about 'dropped points'. Why it has to drag to the end of August I don't know, but then that's just a selfish standpoint thanks to the nervous disposition we all experience as the clock tick tocks away.
What also manages to not help is the 'in the know' culture of sharing supposedly inside information with thousands of people on the internet that feeds into websites, blogs and esteemed (and not so esteemed) newspapers as back page news. Most want to sell a story and need to match it with a headline that will draw more attention to it. So just because X journalist says something about X player we all assume 'it must be true'. Credibility; it's all very much mixed and fused with attention seeking and untruths. Some might have info, some exaggerate it. Fact is, with so many people involved (players, clubs, commercial agencies, agents) everyone involved is playing a game so there's never any guarantee the ones proclaiming the truth to outsiders are telling the truth. This adds to the frustration because you're not really sure if we've bid for a player or not, so when the player denies it you instantly feel deflated that we've missed out. Even if you're never seen the player play you're gutted. All you have left to comfort you is the five minute You Tube highlights reel.
I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't be attempting to rationalise any of this. At the end of the day the responsibility is with the club and if we're short of fire-power or midfield craft then we'll be left behind once September dawns on us. If it's all a consequence of surviving within our means as we work towards the new stadium, then our reality and our perception of it will have to adapt a little so that we can live through it with a smile on our face. Doesn't mean I won't be left scratching my head in amazement if we fail. New era, new coach, new training ground. Seems a shame not maximise all the potential there. I've been very optimistic about this so soon enough I'll find out if my faith has been misplaced.
So, what of the popular transfer targets I mentioned at the start of this blog?
Luka goes, then in we go for Hugo again, offering a little bit more than last time and having our offer accepted. Supposedly done. We're only confident because Lyon were the ones that revealed that it was now down to the player to agree personal terms. With Brad not the type to run off his line, Lloris fits the bill as a sweeper-keeper in the fabled high-line tactic that Spurs might gradually shift towards. A Villas-Boas 'signing'.
Hardly the same class as Modric but he's already in the Premiership and might be substantially cheaper than Moutinho although will still cost a packet as we know prices in England are always at a premium. Attack minded and from what I've seen of him could adapt as a player in a more deeper position than say Sigurdsson who is better placed in a more forward role. How a player adapts is going to be down to the coaching. We witnessed Luka and his shift from advanced left (cutting in) to a more central position before making the regista role his own at Spurs. Although he was always really a central midfielder. If I'm honest, I think Dembele is more of a van der Vaart than he is a Modric and expecting deep play-making from him might be beyond his abilities. Which means we could resign ourselves to the fact our style of play might rely on a different ilk of forward thinking. If he signs.
Defensive midfielder. Do we need one? Sandro, Parker, Livermore already in our ranks. The latter would possibly suffer the most if we signed the Rennes man. If we do, would it impact the signing of a more creative player? Does VB plan to play with two holding midfielders with the likes of Sigurdsson and perhaps Bale taking more central and direct responsibility to carve out chances? Surely we need someone to own possession in the middle, allow us to flow with flash fluidity? M'Vila would not bring that particular dimension. But he'd give us extraordinary depth in strength in central midfield and perhaps with Parker's age and Livermore's youth, we need another beast to stand next to Sandro. We've got a long bruising season ahead of us. The more warriors the more blood the opposition will bled.
Adebayor signed. Kane far too inexperienced. Defoe off to Arsenal. Yeah, sorry about that last one. It's one of the more humourous moments this window has thrown up. Literally, thrown up. We need another striker. A genuine goal scorer, one with guile and intelligence. Adebayor gives us that link up play, that work ethic through the channels but JD is an impact player at best. A smash it and see specialist. This is the one story arc that has run and run and sadly the ball has never been passed to the back of the net, just sent flying over on occasions but mostly the boot had struck a divot and the stands sigh. The likes of Llorente remains a dream. Perhaps one far too expensive to waste time window shopping on. Same with Leandro (for now). So the second tier of players consist of...Remy. Dzeko might have been an option if he was still in Germany. One of the Newcastle strikers if we wanted to aim closer to home. There are other players out there but thanks to the mere interest of a Chelsea or a City, they are deemed as redundant thanks to the hefty price tag hanging off their shirts. Remy would be a risk, but let's be honest. Any player would be. Including players of the moment like Ba and Cisse back home. We do need another forward. I'd love to refer back to this on Saturday with the word sensational signing!
This type of player, positionally, would be superb. Anyone that can cover the flanks (or a flank) and play centrally means they offer that little bit more. Would also mean signing someone like this might make one of the other potential midfield captures unnecessary. If Willian is left-sided then it still leaves the right wing, so perhaps Townsend might get a chance there (unless someone tells me he's gone out on loan). As things stand, we have to bid more. Not getting a healthy vibe from this particular story. Don't think it will happen. But that's just based on Shakhtar laughing off our first bid. The player, apparently, wants to join us. That's got to count for something. Yeah?
We might as well throw his name into the big olde hat. Partnership deal announced with Madrid. Not in time to take Sahin on it would seem, so why not a former great that isn't that great (thanks to injuries) but still greater than most. I'd prefer we got the man below.
You just know this is the key player. The one Villas-Boas wants. A true replacement for Modric, not a direct one in comparison pound for pound but one that can own that midfield like Luka did and dictate play. Again, that same tune is being whistled. The one that that tells the ditty about how the selling club want more money that the interested club are willing to pay. Willing or able. He can create, set the tempo but equally can defend much like Luka was capable of doing from deeper positions. A massive yes please from me.
So, what does all this mean? It means I know as little as you do and all we can do is guess and hope. It's fairly certain we have several bids in, some of which we won't see out till the end because one of those other bids might get accepted. It's a game of cat and mouse simply because of what's at stake for so many of the players involved. And by players I also refer to chairman, clubs and agents along with the footballers.
I'm thankful that I'm travelling Wednesday. Not back home till Friday, possibly just after 9pm. So I'll witness the last couple of hours of the window play out in full technicolor as the veins in Jim White's forehead start to burst the closer we get to 11pm. I'll be on Twitter when I can be, which is hardly the best way to enjoy (suffer) the transfer coverage thanks to the variety of extreme opinions social media is blessed with. If you haven't played with Twitter and you're not sure how to get the best (and worst) out of it, follow me @spooky23 then follow everyone I follow. You'll get more than a decent stream of Spurs chat and journalism (from the pros) along with other dramatics. Which might well put you off it for life.
Lloris. Remy. Moutinho. Ideally.
Lloris. Dembele. Probably.
Lloris. Remy. Moutinho. M'Vila. In fantasy world. With Kaka to warm the bench.
Be safe people.