The winds of change were gusting hard last summer as Tottenham undertook what has got to be one of the more notable overhauls in recent years. Given the go ahead to spend the Bale millions, Baldini set about resurrecting the title ambitions of the Premier League club with an audacious summer spending spree.
The centrepiece of the revolution was arguably the acquisition of Valencia’s top marksmen Roberto Soldado in what was a then club record transfer of £26m. Up there with the best in Europe in terms of goals in recent years, there was a genuine hope that the Spaniard would hit the ground running.
Yet it hasn’t quite panned out like that. For one reason or another Soldado, along with many of his team mates, has struggled to adapt to the English game. We all know too well how finite a commodity patience is in football, so is it time to be concerned about Soldado’s form?
The Spaniard’s form has been patchy at best; just the sole goal from open play in the league against Villa and a handful of others coming in the Europa League. This certainly isn’t the clinical and potent striker we were promised in the summer.
In fact the difference between Soldado and Defoe last weekend was pretty stark; the latter playing with all the confidence and assurance of an in-form marksman and the latter seemingly unable to hit a barn door. To some the Defoe deal to Toronto looks like a transfer market gaffe from Spurs, clearly the better frontman of the two and a major asset lost going forward. I don’t doubt Defoe’s ability and eye for goal, but personally I think Spurs have got this right long term.
Soldado offers so much more to the club. Even when he isn’t scoring he is consistently looking to link up with and bring others into the game, a characteristic that is pretty alien to someone like Jermain Defoe. A lot of Soldado’s play in the final third is world class, some of the flicks and knock ons are just simply on a different level to the one that Spurs currently operate on. Rather than the monotonous midfield passing that many have criticised the club for, Soldado really tries to make things happen and naturally he will make a few mistakes at this stage. But given what a fledgling partnership this is with Adebayor, I think perseverance is the key.
Spurs fans though are right to be concerned. Spending £26m on a player who was meant to be a guaranteed success is always going to carry certain expectations. Clearly these aren’t being met, but really this is true of a lot of the new crop that have arrived at the club – people really need to lengthen their time horizon’s for this ‘project’.
The reassuring thing though is that Soldado will be given the time and opportunity to adapt and show off his very best. With Defoe an imminent departure and Sherwood looking to continue with an adventurous 4-4-2, Soldado will get plenty of game time.
This isn’t a question of making do with what Spurs have, Soldado’s contributions have still been marked. Spurs thought they had bought a goalscorer, but potentially they’ve got a lot more. Having topped the assists charts for the club most of the season it is clear that the Spaniard is a lot to a complete player – more than he is given credit for.
Fans should be concerned, but not to the extent where they write off Soldado. Having had a difficult start both on and off the pitch, a bit of patience and faith are in order here.