While Bale holidays in Florida and Walker relaxes in Barbados, we’ve had our time off and are back to business at WhiteHartBrain. Over the next few weeks there will be some analysis of the past season, from player performances to transfers to tactics. Starting today with the players there is a breakdown of each individual and their role within the club over the past 12 months.
GK – Hugo Lloris
A deadline day signing Lloris did not have the easiest of transitions, as captain of France many thought he would immediately replace Friedel between the sticks, AVB stuck by his guns though and slowly introduced Hugo into the first team. Once he broke into the first 11 there was no replacing him however as he proved invaluable when playing with such a high line. The evidence was glaringly obvious during European games with Brad back in goal. Lloris is excellent at organizing the defense and this will only improve when fellow Frenchman Kabul returns to full fitness. He was shortlisted for player of the month in December and has proved an absolute coup at €10m – €15m. While there may be some European powerhouses with him on their wish list the GK position seems pretty safe for a few seasons yet.
RB – Kyle Walker
Having finished the 2011/2012 season poorly Walker did not improve in the early outings this past year. He was at fault a number of times and became something of a scapegoat for fans, credit to the England international however as he improved vastly as the season went on and actually ended it as one of our strongest performers. I spoke often about the lack of a break the 23 year old had and how it could benefit him, not being part of the U21 tournament this summer means he can now fully recover from several years of constant competition and focus on the upcoming season, his old Sheffield comrade had a strong year and will be competition next season.
RB – Kyle Naughton
Back up for both wing back positions all season he didn’t do much wrong. His role at the club is quite clear and his target for next season even clearer, displace his old mate Walker at right back. Still young and with clear potential he should get at least one more year at the club.
CB – Jan Vertonghen
No one could have asked for much more of the Belgian in his first season in England, he scored 7 goals in all competitions, proved to be very versatile playing well at both left back and centre back, he won the March player of the month and to top a fantastic year off he was selected for the PFA team of the year. ‘SuperJan’ has settled strait into the team and looks entirely at home in lilywhite, it is clear to see that he will be Spurs captain given time and at only 26 he still has plenty of it, a fans favorite already Vertonghen is up there with Bale for me as one of the first names on the team-sheet… Oh and he openly turned down Arsenal expressing his desire to join Tottenham last summer. Just Saying.
CB – Michael Dawson
This season has arguably been the most impressive of Dawsons career. Deemed surplus to requirements upon AVB’s arrival the club captain refused a move away and forced the manager to change his opinion. (A refreshing trait of AVB’s) He actually finished the season as arguably our number one centre back with Vertonghen filling in at left back so frequently. At 29 Dawson is in the peek years of his career, he is a positive figure to have around the club regardless of weather or not he starts every game and is clearly willing to work on aspects of his game. A fans favorite he is now the longest serving player still at Spurs, lets not have any silly talk of him leaving us this summer.
CB – Younes Kaboul
An injury struck season saw him out for the majority, it allowed Dawson to regain his place and for Caulker to get a little experience but he will have no intentions of being so kind next season. He is back in the gym and looking to make up for lost time
CB – Steven Caulker
18 appearances and an England cap isn’t a bad season for a 21 year old but I can’t help but feel that another year on loan at a Premiership side would have been more beneficial. At such a formative age he spent a portion of the year as 4th choice, much has been said recently about English clubs fielding homegrown players between the ages of 18 and 21 or the lack of it. A player with the clear talent of Caulker has been rightly groomed at Spurs but wouldn’t the game time ultimately prove more advantageous for him, lets hope he’s involved more one way or another.
LB – Benoit Assou-Ekotto
At the point of writing this Benny is being linked heavily with a move away from the club and its understandable why. It was a knee injury keeping him out for a portion of the season but even after recovering his fitness the left back position he had made his own over the years was not a certainty. There has been talk of disagreements between BAE and AVB, something I could very well imagine, at the club already there is Rose, Naughton and Vertonghen who can fill in in Assou-Ekotto’s absence and if he were to be sold a high price could be commanded for one of the Premierships most constant performers. As a potential replacement there is only one player I would like to see, Luke Shaw from Southampton, he will be the British left back of his generation and now has a full season of playing in the Premiership under his belt at only 17. If BAE does not leave the club then I expect him and Danny Rose to compete for the position after Rose’s impressive season for Sunderland.
CM – Scott Parker
Another player that has been at the centre of several transfer rumors this summer is Scott Parker. Having been linked often with a move to Serie A it seems like this could be the right impasse for Scotty Parker to move on and finish his playing career at another club. He will not get as many chances in the first team next season with Sandro back especially if we are to invest in another central midfielder, as is rumored. As far as him heading to Serie A I do not believe that is a move that would benefit the midfielder, while he has the tough tackling determination that us British love it is hard to see how far that will get him in Italy with the majority of players being more technically gifted. His brand of resolve and professionalism may well prove me wrong however, if he stays with the club then he will most likely see out his career (at the top level at least) here with his contract running until 2015 at which point he will be 34.
CDM – Sandro
Unfortunately an injury hit season saw Sandro taken away from us just as he was beginning to cement himself as a regular on the team sheet. Taking over from Parker whilst he was injured Sandro began to show some of that potential turning into talent, the team missed his tenaciousness and work rate after January and our form began to slip after. He should be fit again for the new season and will be a welcome sight for fans as he was becoming a favorite of the White Hart Lane faithful.
CM – Tom Huddlestone
Another disappointing season for Huddlestone may well spell the end of his Spurs career, while I have always been a big advocate of his it is becoming clear that the flaws in his game are too vast to forge a genuine career at the very top level as was once predicted, years of injuries have not helped. While he did show flashes of brilliance this season it was too few and far between, I would like to see him stay but I have a bad feeling he along with Parker will be shown the door with a new arrival or two in the centre of midfield. 21 games he played in this season and that is his biggest total since 09/10 so it may be presumptuous to think he is on the way out.
CM – Mousa Dembele
A very impressive first season has seen Dembele’s stock rise even further, he was a fantastic signing and at only £15m it could be said that he has already nearly doubled his value. Only 25 and improving every season he is now an integral part of this Spurs squad, he and Sandro built up quite the rapport on the pitch and hopefully we will see that continue come August. While his role since joining from Fulham has been more reserved playing the pivot role in the centre of the park his impact on each game has increased, he sees more of the ball from deeper and then has the space to move up the field with the ball at his feet like we have seen often this past year. More signings like this in the summer is certainly what the club needs, not too expensive at £15m but is instantly worth more playing for Spurs.
CM – Jake Livermore
After a strong start to the season that saw him pick up an England cap Livermore saw his place in the side become more and more peripheral as players were brought into the club and other regained fitness, he only made 18 appearances all year, 20 less than the season previous and most fans will agree now that he is probably looking towards the door. At only 23 still he can have a bright future but needs first team football in order to reach his potential, we cannot offer him that so a move in the form of either a loan or transfer looks likely. He will always be fondly thought of by Spurs fans for his comments in a post match interview against Barcelona in 2009, that is how to endear yourself to grown men.
AM – Lewis Holtby
He captained the German U21 side in this summer and was their stand out player however Holtby didn’t quite have that same impact in his first 6 months in Engalnd after joining from Schalke for €1.75m. While many, including myself, thought that his brand of quick passing link up play would work wonders in this Spurs team he has found himself the victim of Bale’s rise and subsequent change of position. Holtby is an attacking midfielder by trade, he is most effective there and clearly he prefers to play there, as Bale moved into the middle Holtby saw less game time. He is an immense talent however and I fully expect him to have a big impact on the team this coming year.
AM – Gylfi Sigurdsson
AVB’s first signing at £9m Sigurdsson has had a relatively quiet year at White Hart Lane, despite interest from Liverpool he chose to come to Spurs after a successful year at Swansea. He scored 7 goals in all competitions and at only 23 has plenty of time to solidify that first team place, he was as much a victim of the Bale scenario as Holtby was and saw his appearances often limited to the left wing after Christmas. The club clearly rate him however and have plans as he was the subject of a rejected bid from Reading in January, the fee was reported to have been more than we paid for him so Levy could have been tempted. I for one am pleased he is still at the club and is one of a number of young players that could well have a defining season coming up.
RW – Aaron Lennon
Having been at the club 8 years now Lennon is a permanent fixture at the Lane, and his performances this past year have been among some of his finest. He played more games than any season previous and even represented the club as captain, while many bemoan his final ball and decision making sometimes it is easy to forget he has only recently turned 26 and as hasn’t even reached the peak of his career yet. Lennon is a vital part of this Spurs squad and when he is absent his presence is missed sorely, he gives the team a shape and an outlet that is reliable especially when playing in front of Walker. With Bale transitioning into the middle he is the only pure winger the first team has (with the exception of Townsend) and his position in the side is rarely threatened. He should enter the top 25 players with the most appearances for the club next season with a good chunk of his career ahead and a contract with Spurs until 2016.
AM/FW – Clint Dempsey
It felt as though Levy only splashed out £6m on the American to rub it in Liverpool’s faces and damage their hopes for the season, he succeeded there but what has Dempsey done for Spurs? The answer is a surprisingly large amount. He is a player popular with our stateside fans but not so much over here, while admittedly he has scored a number of important goals at important times his contribution is just not comprehensive enough. No one knows his best position or how best to utilize him which is a problem before he steps foot on the pitch, he played the tail end of the season from the left in the absence of Bale which any Fulham fan will tell you is where he is deadliest. Problem is that his set up play is not of a high enough quality, in the box Dempsey is as clinical as they come but can’t lead the line himself. Perhaps we will see more of him next season, perhaps not, 12 goals in his first season is impressive enough and along with the added interest from American fans there is enough reason to keep him around the first team.
AM/LW – Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale’s season needs it’s own post entirely and cannot be done justice in a short paragraph. The Welshman has evolved from a very good player into one of the worlds best. He is settled, has a young family, a manager he clearly enjoys playing under, fans that adore him and is the proverbial big fish in a small pond. There is no need to move at this point in his career and I believe he knows this, we will have the privilege of watching him represent Spurs again I’m sure of it. 26 goals in a season from midfield is a spectacular haul and one not even seen by the club in nearly 20 years since Jurgen Klinsmann, his 21 in the league is a record that stretches even further back to the 91 season when Lineker scored 28. While he scores goals for fun that is not what sets Bale apart, he has the same ability that Ronaldo and Messi have and it is the most deadly weapon in the modern game, he can just run past an entire team. We have seen him do it time and time again this season, no one wants to bring him down either as his free kick technique is among the best in the world, his final product is breathtaking at times and it really is an honor to watch him play in the colors of Tottenham Hotspur. The fact that our club can develop talent like this will not be overlooked by the worlds brightest young stars and Bale’s impact on world football will be felt by our club for seasons to go regardless of where he ply’s his trade.
ST – Emmanuel Adebayor
After signing for the club for £5m Adebayor seemingly gave up, except I think we all knew this was going to happen. He is a player that will only perform when he needs to prove himself, which is why he was so strong for us in the previous season as his career at the top level (and a potential 100k+ a week contract) was on the line. Towards the end of the last campaign fans began to voice their feelings towards his poor performances, he was left out of the team and what do you know Adebayor begins actually trying for a few games. While I have never been his biggest advocate for me he is not earning the money Levy is paying him at Spurs and the best outcome for everyone is to find him a new club with plenty of money, there are a few popping up in France? 5 goals in the league from a striker that once scored 24 in a single premier league campaign is not good enough, if there was a hatful of assists I could overlook it but he has 2… Time to move on.
ST – Jermain Defoe
There has been a lot of talk about Defoe leaving this summer, the player is the 7th leading goal scorer the club has ever had with 133 goals, the fans are unanimous in their appreciation of him and at the minute he is our best striker and our most prolific. While he is now entering the latter stage of his career there is no reason why he wouldn’t still be utilized at the club he has now spent a combined decade, he is the most natural English goalscorer of his generation and has an impressive return for the national side. I expect one of the strikers to be sold this summer and replaced, the right decision is to keep Defoe, he is a more effective substitute that Adebayor for one as I believe whichever stays will be playing a role from the bench.
With just about everyone associated with the club saying he was their outfield player of the season Danny Rose has given himself a real chance of first team football next year at Spurs. With AVB reportedly telling BAE that he can leave this summer it would leave only one left back in the first team, Naughton and Vertonghen are more than capable of covering but if the manager was happy with Rose replacing BAE then he has at least 5 months to prove what he can do. The fans will back him as everyone remembers his debut strike but not for long if the performances aren’t up to scratch. I still believe he will be 2nd choice after someone else (yet to be brought) but it would be refreshing to see the young Englishman be backed and given a real chance.
A decent season with the majority spent on loan at Millwall the young right back faces tough competition in the first team so another loan spell, perhaps to a lower Premiership club could be the best way to go next season. He has bags of potentiall and has played a respectable number of games in the past 3 years, he could still yet ‘come good’ much like Rose has done this year.
Time to move on… Permanently