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My Soldado sorrow

6 min read
by BardiTFC

When he signed we couldn’t contain our joy. Soldado was a top European striker, who had come from sunny Spain to play at White Hart Lane. Surely glory was just around the corner? Today though watching him toil away in our shirt is a sorry sight. He should have been great.

There is something undeniably sad about looking at Roberto Soldado. Every time I see him trudge away from the pitch or warm up with enthusiasm down the sideline, I cant help but feel a pang of guilt. Did I do this to him? Did we? Rather like those adverts for war torn parts of the world where the individual stares back at you, guilt grips my insides and tries to pull them out through my belly button. Soldado was a thing of beauty, a dangerous predator, a calculated assassin, now he is nothing.

Tottenham-Hotspur-v-Espanyol-Pre-Season-Friendly-2149846In the summer of the Le Grand Depart when we lost our star, our concerns about selling 30+ points was eased as we were finally buying a striker. I remember the opening pod of Season 3 on The Fighting Cock, it was ecstasy.

We have signed a striker.” “Finally Levy gave us what we always needed.” “A striker, oh yeah.”

Think back to those transfer windows where we urged Daniel Levy to sign a striker that wasn’t tall and Polish or old and French. We were desperate for a class striker, then flush with cash he delivered. He opened his wallet, went to Spain and signed an international class striker. A striker that had only been outscored in La Liga by Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I remember his goal for Spain at The Confederations Cup, it was unerring. One touch then goal. It was something that Jermain Defoe had lost and Emmanuel Adebayor has never had.

It wasn’t instinctive, it was something far colder. Football is littered with fantastic instinctive strikers; Pippo Inzaghi, Gary Lineker, Paolo Rossi, but it was something else in Soldado that had me excited. It was the fact that it was a premeditated decision and action. Even in his one-touch goals you could see the workings of his mind. Those eyes, that face, even the hair, he had the characteristics of a cold bloodied executioner. He put the opposition to the sword with a flourish, then calmly wiped his blade on his cloak and slotted it back into his scabbard.

Even in his one-touch goals you could see the workings of his mind. Those eyes, that face, even the hair, he had the characteristics of a cold bloodied executioner

He had it all. Then he lost it. That danger, that ice cold viciousness has disappeared. I see sorrow where I saw danger. I see a man pleading for release.

Soldado hasn’t had an easy career. He has had to work to make it as a top European striker. Despite being nurtured at youth level by Real Madrid, he was never given the opportunity to make a name for himself. A handful of sub appearances and a successful loan spell at Osasuna were not enough save him, even being given the number 9 shirt for the 2007/08 season could not protect him. Soldado was sold to Getafe for 4 million Euros in the summer of 2008. He had failed at Madrid, but he wasn’t the first nor will he be the last to be cast from the Bernabeu.

This however proved to be a turning point for Soldado. He then allowed goals to guide him. At Getafe he scored 29 in 60 appearances, a goal to game ratio that El Gata could not keep hidden. After David Villa starred at the 2010 World Cup, Barcelona pounced, leaving Valencia devoid of a striker, the Mestalla club turned to Soldado to replace their legend. At first the Valencia fans were unsure, but once again his goals convinced them. In three seasons, playing 141 games he bagged 81 goals, a brilliant return for a striker not at one of La Liga’s top two.

At first the Valencia fans were unsure, but once again his goals convinced them

Once again though his goals were too big for Valencia, Soldado was destined to leave Los Che eventually, it was only a matter of time before someone triggered the £30 million Euro release clause. Surprisingly it was Spurs and history repeated itself, Soldado was once again replacing another fan favourite and idol, although this time he was greeted with enthusiasm and applause. He had “come from sunny Spain to play at White Hart Lane” there was a question on all our lips and it wasn’t:

When would the goals come?

But:

How many?

A thirty goals a season striker has always been our dream. It is what we have always lacked, that consistent performer. At Spurs we have grown up with individuals with the ability to grace, thrill and amaze, but all too often its fleeting. It is in the end what set Gareth Bale apart and what has made him a club legend, despite not winning anything. Legends deliver when the club need it the most, towards the end of his career Bale delivered every time. Soldado was meant to fill that void, instead it has sucked him in and not let him go.

It had started reasonably well for Soldado. A few penalties here and there, a lovely finish away at Villa and some goals in the Europa League. He seemed to be settling, even if the team around him were starting to malfunction. We knew the system didn’t quite work for him, but we had faith that he, the manager and the players would sort it out. They didn’t.

There were occasional flashes of class such as his hat trick against Anzhi at White Hart Lane in December, but by 2014 the goals had dried up

When opportunities presented themselves they went untaken. A half chance that at Valencia would have been dispatched, at Spurs bobbled wide or hit the keeper. His coolness had been lost, but surprisingly we kept faith. We took into account his homesickness, his wife’s miscarriage and the tumultuous end to AVB’s reign. There were occasional flashes of class such as his hat trick against Anzhi at White Hart Lane in December, but by 2014 the goals had dried up.

I was in the Park Lane when he slotted home against Cardiff in March, the explosion of joy was unbelievable, we thought that would be the start of a goal flood, instead it was just a sole rain drop in a spring desert of disappointment. No further goals followed and the former Spanish international found himself not only behind the recalled Adebayor, but academy product Harry Kane.

I know it’s useless using the 2013/14 season as a barometer of success. That year we hardly saw Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches looked composed and classy and Paulinho scored goals. It’s a write off of a season, but the new campaign has started in a similar way for Soldado. Despite an encouraging preseason where he seemed to rediscover his love for the game and form an understanding with Lamela, it has tailed off. Whether this is a mental problem on his part, or the simple fact he isn’t good enough to lead our line, is a question we from outside the club can not answer.

Despite an encouraging preseason where he seemed to rediscover his love for the game and form an understanding with Lamela, it has tailed off

What we can see however is a man struggling. A man who despite failing at Madrid had the determination to become one of the top strikers on the continent.Today though he finds himself third choice at a club whose strikers have managed 6 goals in 17 appearances between them. Something has gone wrong here, something at Spurs doesn’t suit him, the more time that ebbs away the less faith I have that he will find the answer to his problems.

Watching Soldado toil away now brings nothing but sorrow. When he is on the bench I know he wont come on, when he starts I know he will withdrawn. He needs to leave as I have now come to terms he will not rediscover what made him great at White Hart Lane. It’s heartbreaking to see and it’s disappointing to know that even when we sign a 30+ goal a season, striker we don’t.

I am truly sorry it hasn’t worked for us, or for him. Good luck Roberto.

All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

BardiTFC

Plan B= A Paulinho #TacticalSmokeGrenade

27 Comments

  1. Iain
    03/10/2014 @ 3:21 pm

    I’d start Soldado and give him a run for a few games. Ade doesn’t look interested anyway.

    Why Soldado was taken off immediately after he scored recently was something I couldn’t understand.

    • Shelf61
      03/10/2014 @ 4:17 pm

      Surely Kane deserves a few games more than Soldado?

  2. Kashana
    03/10/2014 @ 3:33 pm

    Eloquently written, and I share your sentiment.

    He obviously has talent, as can be spotted (rarely) in his general play, but he was signed as a goal scorer.

    And he will be judged as a failure.

    I remember watching him in his first appearance at WHL in a pre season friendly. I commented that he didnt seem to have the characteristics required to be a success as a front man in the Prem – Speed, Height etc, but who was I to question the great Franco Baldini who had secured 7 such wonderful signings for Spurs post Bale.

    • arlombardi
      03/10/2014 @ 3:38 pm

      @Kashana

      You’re spot on with regards his attributes. It seems to be a successful striker in the PL you need to be outstanding in at least one physical attribute, speed, height or power etc.

      A deadly finisher isn’t enough.

      • dick scratcher
        03/10/2014 @ 4:09 pm

        I assume you never watched Greavesie, he had none the attributes that you deem needed

        • arlombardi
          03/10/2014 @ 4:34 pm

          Unfortunately I never had that chance. I would have loved to have seen Greaves play, by the time I was watching football he was upfront for ITV with Saint

  3. al granville
    03/10/2014 @ 4:02 pm

    I fully agree with you Iain. I can just see him being transferred and suddenly hitting form. He’s clearly a very talented player and need the proverbial arm around the shoulder and come hell or high water a start every week. Kane also needs to play consistently and as for Adebayor just get rid as soon as possible.

  4. Ian Ford
    03/10/2014 @ 4:09 pm

    What a very well composed and scene setting little piece , one every supporter should see just to show our appreciation for a player who quite rightly should go down in the clubs history as a square peg , for indeed here is a guy who moves and can be seen as a striker the minute he arrives on the park ! I like our author felt a heavy heart as he trudged off against the welldrilled and enthused Besitkas last evening ! Any thinking supporter is still willing you on Roberto , tho the probability is that yuou return to spain and reclaim success there! We in the meantime have the no hoper Harry and the no enthusiasm for a fight Emmanuelle . And just one more thing I keep reading we need a striker But we need Two !! wake up Daniel
    this is your doing !!!!

    • Shelf61
      03/10/2014 @ 4:19 pm

      No hoper Harry as you call him has been miles better than Soldado since he came into the first team. I’d much rather get behind a young academy product who could have a future with us too.

  5. Halabil
    03/10/2014 @ 4:27 pm

    This year his form has been sh*te because he has been played exclusively in the cup games with Townsend, Paulinho, and Lennon for support. He actually has a good understanding with Lamela and Eriksen and has shown that on occasion. He is an in-the-box poacher and if he gets the right service he can score goals. Given that Ade has been devoid of any industry/motivation/effort this season with only one goal (in the free-for-all game against QPR), I think if Poch was to give Soldado a run of games in the first XI to continue to build an understanding with Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli, I think his confidence will return as will the goals. Since there is no possibility to move him on until January transfer window and since Ade has shown zero form, why not give Soldado a run of games and see what happens anyway? Besides a stint on the sidelines for Adebayor might serve to rekindle his motivation. He always plays better when he has a point to prove, no?

    • andy
      04/10/2014 @ 8:30 am

      Agree

  6. Halabil
    03/10/2014 @ 4:34 pm

    Having said all that, I do know we need to get rid of Chiriches, Paulinho, and Lennon and if we get 50% of what we paid for the first two and maybe 5 million quid for Lennon, that will come to 15-17 million pounds roughly, which should be supplemented with additional funds to purchase an out-an-out striker suitable for the PL no matter what. And if Soldado is not given a run of games by January or if he is and he does not perform, he will also likely be sold in January given reported interest from Athleti and Inter so that can add another 13-15 million pounds to the kitty.

  7. Bill
    03/10/2014 @ 4:39 pm

    I’d be inclined to start him against Southampton. Lovely article though. There is such a lack of good, accurate passing in our midweek side. I don’t know why we’re so bad, the players seem alright. Last night he was totally ineffective but so was everyone else. I also feel for Townsend, a talented, determined lad, but he needs to develop far more awareness and presence of mind. Kane is a fine player and doing well – thankfully. Unlike others here I don’t look for scapegoats; I’m sure Baldini had good reason to sign all these guys. Soldado, Chadli, Paulinho… all looked very good players the previous year. It happens. (To us).

  8. Rick
    03/10/2014 @ 5:12 pm

    To blame Soldado is to be short-sighted. There were so many instances in the game last night where he was free in the box and no pass came. He makes his runs, he gets free, he tracks back and he never complains, true professional.

    Our scoring issues are not solely because of the strikers, its the lack of quality service. Look at Welbeck, he’s a pile of crap but scores because he is helped.

    I feel we need to sign a target man to replace the lazy good for nothing Adebayor, and work on providing quality service to Soldado. He can score, he has scored and he will score given the assists.

  9. PhillyHotspur
    03/10/2014 @ 5:17 pm

    Great read.

    Crazy to see a guy so good in Spain become completely useless in England. So many flubbed sitters and passenger performances last year costing the club 30 large. Shocking

  10. oakvillespurs
    03/10/2014 @ 5:29 pm

    time to give soldado a long run in the team, ade is not interested (should have been offloaded in the transfer window) and plus he will be away for the African cup

  11. dizzydog
    03/10/2014 @ 6:17 pm

    Would rather see Harry get a run of games than Robbie He seems to care about the results , chases the lost causes plus seems to test the keepers
    Not sure where Robbie goes from here and i wish him all the best it just has not happened for him

  12. Tony
    03/10/2014 @ 6:45 pm

    Soladado has seldom been given the type service he requires. In pre season he showed good interplay with 3 supporting players. Sadly he has not been given much game time with Lamela, Eriksen or even Mason to feed him the service he needs.

    Poch must have some kind of death wish sticking with Ade. Kane is scoring freely and is playing confidently, surely now is the time to put him in the league team which lacks goals. Ade will probably start again on Sunday but if he draws another blank or provides a crap performance, Kane should come on and replace him.

    Also Poch is rotating the team too much. How can the players in key positions CB, midfield pair or up front get an understanding if the team is constantly changing? Just rest the players when they need a break, but lets build some team understanding. Trying to learn a new style of play and adapt to new players must be very challenging.

    Interesting to know if Poch would give the legend King a role in fast tracking Dier into a CB ready to play as ist choice next season. With Kaboul in his last season, Vertongen possibly leaving if we don’t qualify for the Champs league we need to build for the future.

    • andy
      04/10/2014 @ 8:27 am

      Personally I don’t see Kane as a number 9. He seems more effective playing off the striker.

      • Steven
        07/10/2014 @ 4:35 am

        Kane isn’t good enough for a top 6 Premier League side, he needs too many touches.

  13. Gazza306
    03/10/2014 @ 8:05 pm

    Super article, summing up the feeling of many of us. I think back to Sergei rebrov, for those of you of an older vintage who we did the same with a few years ago, or even Pavlachenko. I wonder what would happen if we built the team around Bobby? Let him just sit in the penalty area and goal poach while the others do the running!
    I think we need to keep him, stick him in from Sunday til January and see what he does with a run if games, I’d prefer him to Ade, surely after one or two goals he’ll come good?

    • arlombardi
      03/10/2014 @ 11:10 pm

      Good call with the rebrov comparison!!

      • Steven
        07/10/2014 @ 4:34 am

        Soldado has more skill and game intelligence than Rebrov. Once Rebrov was separated from Schevchenko he was exposed as just an average player.

  14. c b waters
    03/10/2014 @ 9:58 pm

    Poor Soldado ..the right striker (or poacher} but at the wrong time.
    How we could have done with him 2 to 4 years back when Crouch/Defoe/Pav etc. were so profligate in the box. Back then, of course, we created countless chances crying out to be converted ..all created by our wonderfully balanced wing play {Bale/Lennon} and the creative/holding force that seemed perfect, and was yet oh so simple, for us (Modric/Parker). How different it all is now! How much more complicated! How much more INEFFECTIVE and DULL with all those samey players! Someone mentioned Greaves {my hero and the finest player I ever saw) but even HIS honed incomparable instincts and incredible football brain would have not been enough in the ‘systems’ played at our club since Modric (Bale’s final exploits just clouded our problems) left! I wouldn’t compare Soldado to Greaves, but in a different time and set-up I may well have. I just can’t help believing we’ve lost a hero, for whom we never provided the platform of success! No wonder he looks lost …because our club and us, the fans, seem lost too! We deserved better as a legacy from the past 5 years, and Soldado deserved a club that played to his strengths ..er actually made chances in the Box! Otherwise, why buy a box striker when the glory was slippng out of our play?

  15. andy
    04/10/2014 @ 8:24 am

    He plays well and then he gets dropped, those that have played as a striker at any level of football would agree that it’s not helpful. I think writing off our players like levy does our managers is exactly the reason our club never moves forward. Articles such as this encourage negativity and are in no way helpful. But… Dont get me started on Adebayor!!!

  16. Len White
    04/10/2014 @ 3:30 pm

    You expressed my feelings exactly in your article. Soldado should be given a run of at least five games with Erikson and Lamela and then we will know if he is capable of scoring consistently.

  17. Steven
    07/10/2014 @ 4:32 am

    It’s pretty obviously – we signed the wrong striker for a team playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with inverted wingers. Soldado scored most of his goals at Valencia from crosses and through balls when he was facing the goal. The AVB and Pochettino formations, similar to Mouriniho’s approach, only have room for 1 out and out striker who needs power and strength to hold up play and bring the 3 attacking midfielders into play.

    One thing is for sure, that when (not if) we sell Soldado for a marked down price he will get picked up by a team that play with 2 up front and natural width. And then he will score goals, lots of them.

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