|With our second pre-season friendly being cancelled because of a downpour of rain of biblical proportions, Ange’s build up to the Premier League season is looking like becoming a bit of a wash out. With AS Roma already having pulled out of the match scheduled against us (was Mourinho a bit worried ?), we now have a defeat by West Ham and a match against a side not many people have probably heard of outside of Singapore before we return home. Lion City Sailors may be a top side in their own country, but would they have provided sufficiently strong opposition to test Spurs as we gear up for August 16th ? One wonders what Leicester might have been like shorn of Maddison and Barnes, although their players might have wanted to have proven something after being relegated.
The West Ham match was a bit of a mish-mash. Great going forward, but letting in soft goals is not something that we want to become our trademark. That was something that Postecoglou was probably looking forward to rectifying against an English side, which he won’t have the option of now, with only Shakhtar Donetsk and Barcelona to come after Wednesday’s match. The Irons had very few chances, but they scored two goals from crosses and another with a straight ball through the middle of our defence. I know it was only a friendly – and the first at that – but having just got back to 2-2, closing out games will be much more important when the real action begins.
The issues arising with players defending crosses has a few impacts. There appeared to be no defensive player who was switched on and willing to attack balls into the box. Will this put pressure on Vicario to come for crosses to nullify any threat ? He seems happy to deal with them and seems to punch pretty well, but how far might he need those in front of him to cope with heading the ball away ? The talk in the media is that the new boss wants to bring in new blood at the heart of the defence, with Micky van de Ven of Wolfsburg and Edmond Tapsoba of Bayer Leverkusen the names most heavily linked, with Fulham’s Tosin Adaraboyio also rumoured to be of interest. Then there is the on-going haggling over Clement Lenglet and now the dispute over add-ons for young Blackburn central defender Ashley Phillips. Goodness help us if we sign Harry Maguire, whose price is dropping rapidly. There comes a point when the club have to stump up transfer fees that are being asked if the targets are going to improve the squad immediately or in the near future.
I know that when we talk about quibbling over a couple of million it sounds flippant compared to the current economic situation in the UK, but where does the problem lie ? Is it that there is not enough money in the transfer coffers and if so, there are a number of players (12 according to the Daily Express) who the club are wanting to move on, so why not get on with finding clubs for them and bringing in the money to replace them. If it is a game of who will blink first, then we could easily lose out on them to another team or to the club who hold their registration, who won’t shift on the price. Phillips and Bristol City’s Alex Scott are two young players who are highly rated and will cost the club, but look at some of the very good young players that we have brought in over the past few years who have repaid their fees. Tom Huddlestone, Dele, Steffen Iversen, Sonny, Aaron Lennon, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker and Anthony Gardner are just a few, who, while not everyone will agree, have been worth taking a punt on. So, where are the talent spotters that can bring in the “ones for the future” and save us the big bucks that we would have to pay otherwise. Missing out on Jack Grealish over a few million looks churlish now and even £40 million for James Maddison is a massive increase in what we could have paid for him when he was at Coventry City. Yes, I know it is always a risk with unproven players (e.g. Bostock, Parrett, Routledge), but even some who cost multi-millions have failed at this club, so it may be a less painful option to lose a few million than an awful lot more.
The second half against West Ham showed perhaps what the team might be capable of. There were plenty of chances in the first 45, but there was a little more potency in the second period, with a couple of well taken goals that looked like it might be possible to over-turn the half-time score-line. It wasn’t to be and on the balance of play, West Ham were fortunate to take the result, as they looked pretty poor. They had already played one game, but there was little joined up play to speak of while Tottenham battered them creating 30 goal-scoring opportunities. The issue then is taking them. With the future of Harry Kane still up in the air, that throws a longer shadow over our goal-scoring options. We have signed Kulusevski, Solomon and Maddison, all players who can probably provide more than they score, leaving only Richarlison if Harry departs as the one to take them. You would expect the club to spend the money on a replacement, but without European football that limits the range of players who might be willing to come to N17.
Although some bright spark in the media (yes there is another to add to the one who pulled out the Kane Bayern Munich shirt at the press conference) has linked us with Mbappe not that PSG want rid of him, even in my wildest dreams I do not expect to see him in the Lilywhite at the THS. Vlahovic will possibly have the choice of clubs he wants to go to, so probably not us. Randal Kolo Muani is a player lots of clubs are linked with, but he might be looking for one of the more established teams to challenge for trophies and some of the names of up-and-coming strikers are getting snapped up as the wait goes on for an outcome to the long-running saga. The last thing we need is for this to drag on into the tail-end of the transfer window, where we will see the Dimitar Berbatov situation where we were left with no option other than to take Frazier Campbell on loan for the season from United as part of the deal. We are at a stage where if Harry said he wanted to go and Levy can squeeze £100 million out of Bayern, then get the deal done and move on. I know it probably stings him a bit that Rice cost £105 million and Daniel might want more than that for Kane, but if a club wanted to pay that for the former West Ham man, then more fool them.
There have been few departures as the market is somewhat depressed in terms of big fees paid by clubs other than the Chelseas, Mancashter Uniteds/Citys and Newcashs of this world. Sanchez, Lo Celso, Ndombele, Reguilon, Dier, Lloris, Hojbjerg, Tanganga, Davies, Gil, Sarr and Sessegnon have all been linked with moves away from Tottenham in the media, with many of the stories probably based on little fact. Hugo looks set to find a new challenge after 11 years at the club and he will go with the best wishes of a lot of fans, having been a fine servant to Tottenham. It looks a bit early to make a decision to sell Sarr, as he looks like he cold develop as a useful player and being African Young Player of the Year, he must have something about him, while Ndombele might have been looking to get some on-pitch minutes against Leicester to show what he can do in a match having apparently impressed in training. He is one of those people that you know there is a player in there, it just needs to come out. Lo Celso had a very good second half against the Irons, but it is all down to whether Ange fancies him or not. We hear that he doesn’t seem to have a place for Sanchez or Lo Celso in his side, while Hojbjerg looks like leaving if the manager can’t fit him into his system or fancies someone else in his place. And it is how the manager foresees his team being set up as to who he wants to fit into it. If Spurs can’t bring in the players he wants, then will he get disillusioned or frustrated with the situation.
It promises to be a return to attacking football under Postecoglou from all we have heard from him and a different Spurs side to the one we have been used to over the last couple of seasons, so in that respect the season looks one to look forward to. Who will be in the team and how long that lasts for are the big questions though. A long time I hope, but then only time will tell.
Keep the faith.
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE