This season was supposed to be the start of a new era for Tottenham, the chance to finally move on from the waning memories of Champions League football under Harry Redknapp and to carve out something special under AVB.
But as is so often the case with Spurs in the last few years they have found themselves mid-way through a season and back to square one. AVB’s grand master plan failed to convince, and under new man Sherwood the signs so far just point to more of the same mediocrity. We were promised a return to the good old days of eye-catching attacking football, but in reality the Premier League club have continued their trend of ponderous and ineffectual forward play.
The stats don’t lie, Spurs have mustered a miserly 37 league goals so far; almost half the amount Liverpool have managed in the same amount of time.
Spurs’ Champions League charge has been blighted by a goal shy frontline, and given the investment made in the summer have the club simply made the wrong choices?
Roberto Soldado is undoubtedly a world-class striker; his return of 25, 27 and 30 goals in his three seasons at Valencia underlines this, but for Spurs the Spanish forward has been woefully below par. So is this a case of square pegs in round holes for the club that pride themselves on the way they conduct their transfer business?
For Valencia Soldado was the main man, the focal point of every attack and the person that the rest of the team were hell bent on supplying. The likes of Feghouli, Mata and Silva were all charged with finding the Spaniard, and more often than not he was there to provide that clinical final touch.
At Spurs though the blueprint seems to be different; there seems to be a need for a more complete type of forward. It is no wonder that someone like Defoe has been so marginalised throughout his time in North London given how little he contributes to all-round play, for me Soldado suffers these same shortcomings. Adebayor by contrast is your typical Premier League lone striker, someone that can hold the ball up and run into channels throughout the 90 minutes. Soldado by contrast needs someone in and around him to create his chances, but with the midfield three sitting so deep it is unsurprising that he has netted just the 6 league goals.
So the question really is why didn’t Spurs go for someone else last summer?
The club surely knew what they wanted, so the decision to go in for Soldado over someone like Christian Benteke seems a little baffling. When you fork out £26m for a frontman you get the impression money isn’t really the issue here, Benteke was well within the clubs reach yet they chose to pass up on the Belgian forward.
Benteke ticks all the boxes; he is an imposing presence able to lead the line but with the inherent qualities to test even the best defences. To cap it all off he is just 23, the sort of age that fits Daniel Levy’s transfer model and someone with the potential to grow further still. Benteke may not be having the best of seasons at Aston Villa, but if you take his 18 months in England as a whole you see someone that has had a profound effect on one of the divisions struggling sides.
What makes things worse is that Benteke wanted to leave over the summer, a written transfer request for many spelt the end of his time in the midlands, with North London his likely destination. Some may argue that Benteke was the greater risk, his youth and inexperience rendering him inadequate for leading the Spurs line at this stage. That said 19 league goals in a pretty average Villa side would suggest he has what is required to flourish at a bigger Premier League club even now; an opportunity that Spurs unfortunately passed up on.
Yesterdays showing may have renewed some of the early optimism regarding Soldado, with fans keen to buy into this development of a partnership with Adebayor. When you spend £26m you want something ready-made and not someone that you need to try and ‘fit in’.
Soldado is world-class but unfortunately at completely the wrong club given the way they are looking to play. Perhaps Spurs got carried away with the Bale money and sensationalism came ahead of rationality on the transfer front.
If AVB had been bought Benteke rather than Soldado then he may still be in a job.
Further evidence of a misguided transfer policy here?