It has been a year since that glorious summer where we signed everyone, but today, three managers and a year later how are they getting on? Dan Rattigan investigates.
The magnificent seven a year on
Like the Premier League being the best league in the world or any player who maims another not being that ‘kind of player’, one of the repeated truisms in football over the last year is that Spurs pissed the Gareth Bale (and the never mentioned Dempsey, Huddlestone, Caulker and Parker) money up the wall.
That we sold Elvis and bought that unfeasibly populated boy band on X-Factor at the minute (my missus watches it, honest). And Liverpool have then in turn ‘done a Spurs’, despite the best protests of their manager that they wouldn’t. We sold a steak dinner and now dine out on burgers and chips. It’s definitely true because proper journalists write it repeatedly and it’s tweeted in droves.
Patience. An oft repeated word in football and definitely one of those things that’s it’s easier to preach than practice. It’s hard to be patient when it’s not even Christmas and you’ve lost four at home, it’s hard to be patient when your £26m man is doing their best impression of a later-day Fernando Torres and, most of all, it’s hard to keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs.
On Twitter we’re all an exaggeration, a Spitting Image pastiche of modern fandom
It’s easy to take Twitter, which at its worst is a continual circle jerk of negativity, as a proxy for the mood of fans (and who among us can say we’ve not been negative on Twitter?) but, really, it isn’t. On Twitter we’re all an exaggeration, a Spitting Image pastiche of modern fandom. But then there’s no escaping that the mood in the ground has changed for the worst either.
But patience is vital. In the aftermath of Bale, Luka, Rafa and Ledley things were always going to get worse before they got better. In my 27 years, that’s as good as it got – possibly a freak. Then throw their erstwhile colleagues like Gomes, Bassong, Corluka, Huddlestone, Kranjcar, Crouch, Pav et al – we basically replaced a whole side, again, over a period of 3 years.
Very few sides could replace that quality and loss of (to use Villas Boas style management jargon) organisational memory. Throw in three completely different ‘head coaches’ in 12 months, then whole other batch of players coming and going this summer, and it’s hardly the most conducive environment to hitting the ground running.
Soldado has the look of a bloke who has seen things, man.
I’ll start by looking at the two most promising of the seven, Eriksen and Lamela. It probably can’t be said enough that Eriksen, for £11m, was an absolute steal. Graceful, incisive and technically gifted, he’s a player who at 22 has the potential to dominate games for years to come. He seems to get what the manager wants to a degree, more so when played in the middle, though undoubtedly needs more consistency. In any other circumstances, he’d be lauded as a masterstroke from the club.
Lamela is a bit more controversial, probably half for the transfer fee and half for the barnet, and probably divides opinion more so than any other signing. But there’s something there. He’s quick, tricky and can make things happen.
He’s 22, like Eriksen, and spent almost the entirety of last season in the Darren Anderton sick bay, of course there will be kinks to iron out but he doesn’t half work at it. People accuse our players routinely of lacking passion and character but, every time I see the spindly Argentine show for the ball and take responsibility, they can’t be talking about him?
Nacer Chadli is probably the best example of why you shouldn’t judge a player after a maiden season in a strange new land. Most fans, myself included, have had to revise their opinion of a player who looked last season like some strange hybrid holding-winger (Benfica away aside). He may not dominate games, but he’s showing a consistency infront of goal that rivals the best players going and puts our centre-forwards, Kane apart, to shame.
Then there’s Soldado. His fate has been better captured in these pages, so I’ll tread lightly, other to say that admittedly it’s not really worked out thus far. He has the look of a bloke who has seen things, man.
My head tells me it probably never will and he’ll get the deadline Torres loan treatment, but I still live in hope. Not every signing will work out but it’s with particular sadness that, after years of needing to spend big on a striker, this seems to be the one that’s flopped. But, still, his approach play is exceptional (perhaps a back-handed compliment) and there is a fierceness in there that, again, belies the criticism that we have no character. I’m naïve, I’m blinkered, but he just needs a break. Come on ye football gods, help him.
Vlad Chiriches is the probably the most Tottenham player to ever play for Tottenham. Technique in absolute abundance, but has issues with positioning and concentration which, when you think about it, are pretty essential when doing his job.
I like Capoue. Well I like the Capoue I saw against West Ham, QPR and Arsenal, not so much the one I saw against Liverpool and Stoke
I’ll hold my hands up and say, after Besiktas, I didn’t want to see his widow’s peak darken my door again. But he’s undoubtedly one of those players we’d end up selling to a top 6 Italian team and would end up being amazing; maybe a spell at right-back, while being managed by a former no-nonsense centre-back, will do him good.
I like Capoue. Well I like the Capoue I saw against West Ham, QPR and Arsenal, not so much the one I saw against Liverpool and Stoke. He’s visibly worked on his fitness since returning from injury last season, but clearly needs to add consistency to his game. I don’t think he’ll ever be a marauding, dominant midfielder the French national side have churned out for generations but, particularly against Arsenal, there’s a calm, disciplined, tactically aware and technically apt holding midfielder in there somewhere.
It probably doesn’t say much for our £17m Brazilian international that I had to google who the seventh signing was. There were times last year when I thought Paulinho was the best of the lot – Stoke and Cardiff in particular. He seemed in many ways tailor-built to play in England – a box-to-box goalscoring midfielder, an ideal fit for a team that has traditionally lacked goals from that area (I’m not classing Van der Vaart or Bale as ‘midfielders’ in the same sense).
Coming on against Hull, there’s no denying he looks hefty and out of sorts. A post-World Cup lul mixed with a lack of football was never going to rival the Insanity workout. Despite my rampant optimism, I’ll probably concede that it isn’t going to work out for him but, not to undermine my own point, I don’t think it’s worth throwing the rest of the players under the bus with him.
Paulinho seemed in many ways tailor-built to play in England – a box-to-box goalscoring midfielder, an ideal fit for a team that has traditionally lacked goals from that area
Snap judgements are sometimes unavoidable, about the players, the manager, Baldini, Chirpy. But I can’t help remembering that we were eating off the work of Arnesen and Comolli years after they left. How many of Bale, Modric, Carrick, Huddlestone, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou Ekotto etc really hit the ground running before going on to become key performers (of course at different levels and for differing amounts of time)?
It took Carrick a while to dislodge Sean Davis (I remember Santini playing Carrick left-wing?!), it took Modric a while to show he could play at the level he’s at now; when we look back to better times, we often forget what went before.
These are our players and no amount of sighing or @’ing them abuse directly on the internet will change that. They’ve been dealt a pretty terrible hand over the last year – we call to the board for patience, stability and support, let’s take a lead. I’m not saying all of them will go down as heroes, even cult heroes (shameless plug for a mate’s book), but maybe we all need to learn to love them a bit more?
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.