Tag Archives: Sébastien Bassong

Five Reasons why Tottenham Hotspur could win the Premier League | David Hytner

Um excelente artigo de David Hytner para o The Guardian

Five reasons why Tottenham Hotspur could win the Premier League | David Hytner
A great midfield, an eye for goal and strength in depth make an unlikely case for Spurs this season

Harry Redknapp admits the choice between Rafael van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe up front is a tremendous problem. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

1 The midfield is the envy of the country

Harry Redknapp and Daniel Levy contrived something of a double coup in the final week of the summer transfer window. Not only did the manager and chairman hold Luka Modric to the terms of his contract, so denying him the move he wanted to Chelsea, but they signed Scott Parker from West Ham United for a bargain £5.5m.

With his lung-busting industry and hard-but-fair commitment, Parker has provided fresh ingredients and, like all the classic midfields, this one now has the lot. If Parker screens and breaks up opponents’ play, then Modric makes Tottenham Hotspur tick while Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon offer the pace and incision on the flanks.

Modric’s public silence since 1 September has been revealing. He has not come out with pledges of loyalty and happiness because to do so would insult people’s intelligence. The talks aimed at better reflecting his value with a pay-rise continue to drag and his longer-term future remains in the balance.

There is no prospect of a mid-season move, despite the inevitable ramping up of interest. “No one will leave in January that I want to keep,” Redknapp said. Modric’s professionalism, therefore, feels worthy of the highest praise.

2 The squad’s strength in depth is imposing

Consider the following lineup: Heurelho Gomes; Vedran Corluka, Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Danny Rose; Steven Pienaar, Sandro, Tom Huddlestone, Niko Kranjcar; Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko. There is no room in it, incidentally, for Carlo Cudicini, Sébastien Bassong or Giovani dos Santos. This, at present (and overlooking fitness issues), is Tottenham’s second XI and it provides Redknapp with impressive options.

The manager had only just finished eulogising Ledley King last week when the central defender and medical miracle took a bang on the knee in training and was ruled out. No matter. Gallas stepped in and the team steamrollered Bolton Wanderers. Redknapp admits that the choice between Rafael van der Vaart and Defoe up front is a tremendous problem and the greatest difficulty is to manage the frustrations of those not involved.

There is an exception. Redknapp is sick of Pavlyuchenko, the Russia striker, who gives the impression that a broken eyeliner would sideline him. A back complaint will keep him from Sunday’s trip to Stoke City and Redknapp was asked when he may return. “After the trip to Shamrock Rovers,” he replied. Redknapp would love to sell the player in January but he would do so only if he could upgrade. The strength of the squad cannot be compromised.

3 Focus will not be blurred by European distractions

Redknapp is already talking as though Tottenham have been eliminated from the Europa League, which is not technically true; if they were to hammer Shamrock Rovers next Thursday and Paok were to beat Rubin Kazan, they would wriggle through. But if it happened, you suspect that Redknapp would privately curse. His views on Europe’s secondary cup competition leave no room for the imagination, particularly “that Thursday night-Sunday thing”. “It just messes the whole week up,” he said.

Redknapp was in full flow when he wondered who had invented the rule about the Champions League drop-outs entering at the last-32 stage of the Europa League. “If you get knocked out of the FA Cup, you don’t come back in the Carling Cup semi-finals … it’s unbelievable,” he said. But the demands of the “never-ending” Europa League, with travel and the potential to pick up injuries prominent among them, are now realities for the Manchester clubs, no matter how seriously United treat the tournament; City want to go all the way.

Chelsea and Arsenal will have bigger fish to fry from next February, in the Champions League, and there is little doubt that, barring a disastrous triumph in Dublin, Redknapp’s players will feel the benefit of weeks free from European football.

4 Loanee Adebayor has raised the bar up front

Tottenham being Tottenham, they have chased and been linked to an array of high-quality centre-forwards in recent times, many of whom have felt out of reach, but in Emmanuel Adebayor Redknapp has landed his own highly salaried galáctico. The deal is only a season-long loan and City, his parent club, are contributing £100,000 of his £170,000 weekly wage, making it unlikely that Tottenham will be able to make any transfer permanent. But they are enjoying the Togolese while they can.

Redknapp had been looking for a No9 like Adebayor for some time, a striker who can play up on his own – to allow the manager to play a 4-3-3 or variations thereon – or as a partner for someone such as Defoe, dropping in behind, or Van der Vaart. Adebayor represents an upgrade on Peter Crouch, who was allowed to join Stoke and, although he misses chances, he scores them, too. He has seven goals in 11 matches, all of them in the Premier League. Like Parker, his record at the club reads: W10 D1.

“He gives us more mobility than what we’ve had and his all-round play has been excellent,” Redknapp said. “His work-rate, too, has been top-class.”

5 Is there truly a runaway favourite for the title?

Almost every fan in the country will answer Manchester City but Redknapp argues strongly that there is not much to choose between the best six clubs in the division and by that, he means the current top six with Liverpool swapped in for Newcastle United.

When asked whether Tottenham can win the league, he says “it is not impossible” and he has presented a nice line between belief-fuelling ambition and realism. The players have responded to being portrayed as contenders – Redknapp is a master of putting a strut in steps – and he has reinforced the point by saying that Tottenham have been in the shakeup for the past two seasons.

“We were fourth the year before last and we were fifth last season and only fell away after our Champions League exit [against Real Madrid in April],” he said. “If we’d have had a decent run then, we’d have been very close last season. We are a top-six team, we could get into the top four and who knows from there?”

Redknapp has said that Manchester United triumphed last season “as everyone else fell over themselves” and with consistency and belief, he feels that stunning opportunity could yet knock on Tottenham’s door.

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