Last week a friend suggested that Tottenham Hotspur would not progress as a team until they got rid of Rafael Van der Vaart. It seemed a radical and harsh view considering the Dutchman’s outstanding contribution last year, but having mulled it over, there is certainly a case to be made.

The most important thing is to see past his individual talent and consider the effect he has on the team as a whole, after all, no individual is bigger or better than the team (a fact that Van der Vaart could be reminded of from time to time). So did the team perform better with him or without him?

In the league Tottenham performed considerably worse. They scored 12 less goals (55 compared to 67) than they did in the 09/10 campaign and finished the season with 8 less points (62 points compared to 70 the season before). Had they secured 70 points last season Tottenham would once again be in the Champions League. Of course it’s a valid point that Tottenham’s European run may have detracted from their league form, but to what extent it did or didn’t is hard to know and Tottenham were supposed to have a squad capable of approaching both competitions anyway.

The drop in goals has been attributed to the poor form and standard of finishing of our strikers. Whilst no-one will deny that they were wasteful, (particularly against poorer teams at home), Van der Vaart was also part of this wasteful attack for the entire season. His return of 13 goals was good but not remarkable considering the sacrifices made to accommodate him. It is important to remember that it is not Van der Vaart who has pushed Tottenham back, but Redknapp’s inability to fit him into his previous system. Defoe, kept out of the team by Van der Vaart, went from scoring 24 goals in 09/10 to 9 in 10/11.

It was Redknapp’s responsibility to take a talent like Van der Vaart and somehow squueze it into the already successful model, thus making the team better. Redknapp failed to do this entirely or perhaps did not even attempt it. He just dropped a striker and whacked Van der Vaart in. (He’s never claimed to be a tactical genius). The problem is, Van der Vaart needs discipline. If he’s playing off the big man there’s no point in him spending half the match spraying Hollywood passes from a deep-lying midfield position. Redknapp, as though daunted by suddenly having an established star in his squad, just gave him a free role and waited for the magic to happen. Van Der Vaart himself said there didn’t really seem to be any tactics, his performances seem to confirm this.

(Unfortunately Redknapp also gave Luka Modric a free role and whilst the Croatian may have more positional discipline, it doesn’t stop the two of them drifting into each other’s space all the time).

If Redknapp can actually work out a way to fit Van der Vaart into his team without compromising on strikers or the whole shape and structure of the team. i.e. give Van der Vaart a defined, disciplined midfield role, then perhaps the goals will flow again for Tottenham, of course that leads us back to the age old problem of where do you fit him in. It wouldn’t hurt if Redknapp took a little longer to think it over this season.

What do you think?

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  • karl
    3 years ago

    crap article from an blind fool

    Reply
  • kimchibaka
    3 years ago

    Agreed – it’s a very tricky one. I think the main problem is we are a team of individuals – there is no system, Harry’s said he doesn’t believe in tactics, and VDV’s explained the tactical instruction – there isn’t any.

    Modric is disciplined in his free role, VDV isn’t. Harry absolutely berated Sandro for scoring out of position, but doesn’t even seem to have a word in VDV’s ear when he drops deep and leaves the striker isolated.

    This ‘team of individuals’ approach led to some excellent performances at times last season, but equally when one of the first choices wasn’t available or off form we struggled at times.

    Very disillusioned with Harry and still worried that VDV can’t play with Modric, and/or in a 4-4-2 with two out and out wingers. I pray this season proves me wrong on all fronts…

    Reply
    • aqaljuta
      3 years ago

      Agreed too.. That’s the main reason why Modric was so adamant in moving to Chelsea. Said this thousand of times, harry is mother of all idiots!! harry has made him “feel” he’s the star of the team. feck him and pls someone stop him from taking all corner / free-kicks. The team should be built around modric, not van der “primadona” vart!

      Reply
  • jerkinmahjurgen
    3 years ago

    ‘Team of individuals’ is a bit harsh for a side that passes like ours can. Some of the moves, the attacks, the amount of them… Don’t detract from the only issue being someone who can lead the line. Ade can. With all our cm’s fit and available, I think H will play more 4231 or a 433 variable. But taking out one of the clubs best players is hardly going to help.

    Reply
  • sydneyspurs
    3 years ago

    I think I have to agree with this article. I read a lot of football and tottenham related articles, including comments but never add my own. Having said that,I’m not supremely passionate about letting VDV go or anything because it’s definitely a very tricky situation. I for one believe that the poor performance of the strikers last season was partially due to VDV and the inability to find him a suitable position. For illustrative purposes, we all know Wayne Rooney is a class player and when C. Ronaldo was in the team he didn’t score as much (for many reasons, lack of shooting chances due to Ronaldo taking them, lack of space for the same reason etc). Form plays a role but fact is I feel that’s what happened to us last season, VDV took the place of 1 striker and didn’t do the job of one cos he kept dropping deeper to get the ball and be part of the action, which is not what we needed. We had bale, lennon, modric, to do that. This certainly didnt help lennon either as he got the ball less and fewer chances to run with the ball and provide assists. I really think the VDV problem has to be resolved for Spurs to succeed. I dont want him to leave but harry has to make it work, even if it means him leaving. If he stays in the support striker, he has to stay in position and only leave position to tackle without drifting, and definitely not go back to his own half just to get the ball from teammates. With only 1 striker, him getting the ball in our own half and trying long passes isn’t the best tactic cos there’s only 1 bloody striker to pass to, aside from the odd passes to bale.

    Reply
  • IoanX
    3 years ago

    Playing VDV, the only real world class player of Spurs, has nothing to do with playing with one or two strikers as long as you use two defensive mid-fielders who can really cover and tackle, for example Sandro and Parker.
    The problem with Harry is that he often brings an unbalanced team on the field and he hasn’t found yet a proper position inside the team for a lot of Spurs players.
    Some major shortcomings include that the team misses automatisms on the field, inability on covering the free space and also bringing a significant number of players in the rival’s box when the team attacks.
    VDV is currently the only player of Spurs who can change the course of a game in favour of his team with his individual performance.
    And he has done this repeatedly last season.
    But of course you need more intelligent players than Lennon, Defoe, Crouch and Pav to work properly together.
    Spurs have missed an opportunity to sign Ruiz.
    An intelligent player playing in many positions in the attack and able to score.
    Spurs generally miss intelligence, proper tactics and winner’s mentality/fighting spirit in their game.

    Reply
  • Greekos
    3 years ago

    As it article infers, I fear it is not Van Der Vaart but in fact Redknapp who needs to do some work to make either VDV or LM more disciplined positionally as you can have one player with a free role but not two. Anymore than that and you need to be playing total football and as glorious as it would be we dont play total football. So make a choice Harry which one of them has the free role?

    Reply
  • Joe
    3 years ago

    I believe the problem does not lie with Van der Vaart, but with the wingers Tottenham have. Playing a 4-2-3-1 would naturally make the most sense to accomodate all their best players, including Modric, VDV, Bale, and Lennon. However, the fact is that playing this formation REQUIRES you to play inverted wingers, who cut infield to support the attack and not go to the byline. It’s true that on paper, Lennon and Bale on their respective wings with Vdv behind the strikers looks extremely potent, but one simple question remains. To whom will the wingers cross to? The one striker in the box?Considering Vdv so often drops back to midfield, often they leave the striker isolated up front without any support as both their wingers prefer to stay wide. THis is the fundamental flaw in Harry’s tactics. I do think he sees this though, and that’s why he sees Bale’s long term future at left back, where he can maraud forward past once the left winger cuts in and leaves space for him on the outside.

    Reply
  • brian
    3 years ago

    A lot of you are getting stuck into VDV,But personally i would rather have him,then that greedy liitle shitte you all seem to think,is the greatest thing since slice bread.well he is’nt.When he was injured we had our best results.Yes he is a good player,but his goal return is very poor for an attecking half back.Plus mhis attidtude since the Chelski bussiness,is deploranble.Thenm again in fairness it would be hard to resaist 3 times your present salary. That said,one only has to look at his performance against Manshitty,Very poor.One can only hope it does not come back to haunt us like the berba situation.

    Reply
  • HoskSpur
    3 years ago

    Well we will find out over the next month or so, given that he is going to be out injured. Personally, I think selling Crouch was the best move; no pace and that’s what the Premiership is all about now. Adebayor and Defoe will get a hatfull of goals you just wait and see.

    Reply
    • amf00769
      3 years ago

      I hope you are right!

      Reply
  • lieutenant
    3 years ago

    Iam not a fan of rafa hes no gascoigne or ginola, more poser I like 4-1-4-1 but 2-1-4-3 in ATTACK! would have liked striker leandro damiao aswell and mature center back not cahill, 4-4-2 ok but center backs slack need protection whilst needing 2. strikers GOALS! pienaar and pavlyuchenko can leave kranjcar alongside adebayor rotate team. c`mon you spurs dudes posse outlaws…

    Reply