Tottenham Hotspur fans were perhaps living in hope rather than expectation of a positive prognosis towards Sandro’s knee injury, the confirmation that the Brazilian was set to miss the season has still offered a real body blow to supporters.
As is so often the case with a variety of serious knee injuries, there seemed nothing particularly lethal about the way the ex-Internacional man went to the ground during this month’s 0-0 draw away to Queens Park Rangers. Yet even though such almighty damage requires such little movement to inflict, Sandro can count himself as dreadfully unlucky to have torn both his anterior cruciate ligament and damaged his lateral meniscus in one fell swoop.
For the Brazilian, the emphasis will already be on the road to recovery and the race to return in time for the beginning of the 2013-14 term and if reports linking the club with French midfielder Yann M’Vila are to be believed, the man known in N17 as ‘the beast’ may just have a new competitor to boot.
Although while the loss of arguably the club’s finest all-round performer offers bitter disappointment for all connected to Tottenham, it shouldn’t necessarily provoke a drastic alteration to their January transfer plans.
With just over ten days remaining in the transfer window, supporters are already bracing themselves for a customary late charge in player recruitment.
The acquisitions of both Lewis Holtby and Ezekiel Fryers may have offered a refreshing alternation to the club’s penchant for deadline day drama but bar a considerable change in fortunes, neither are likely to play much of a part in Spurs’ 2012-13 season. Throw in the urgent need for the addition of both a striker and a creative force in midfield, then there’s every chance that the club will revert to type when it comes to the timing of it’s transfer business.
And on face value, the loss of Sandro has thrown a real spanner in the works of the club’s forthcoming transfer plans. Alongside Mousa Dembele, he’s formed one half of a midfield axis that’s arguably evolved into one of the Premier League’s best. Although all have played their part in firing Andre Villas-Boas’ side into top-four contention, none have performed with the unrelenting consistency that Sandro’s brought to the fold.
Yet while the squad might not be able to boast a player of the same remarkable consistency of Sandro to call upon, the chances are they’re not going to find a player like that in the transfer window either. And should they halt the expected departures of either Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore or even both this January, they’re more than adequately stocked to cope with the loss of the Brazilian.
Alongside Scott Parker, Andre Villas-Boas has three defensive midfielders that while possessing a range of different attributes, all offer a physical, holding presence to the Tottenham engine room. It would border along the lines of heresy to compare the likes of Huddlestone and Livermore with Sandro, but the duo are more than capable of offering sufficient cover for Parker for this second period of the season. And it’s in Parker that supporters can really feel allayed in their fears, although it appears some are perhaps a little more impatient than others.
Although you’d be hard pushed to find much in the way of a negative from Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Manchester United yesterday afternoon, it was fair to say that Scott Parker didn’t enjoy his sharpest game since joining the club last season. Yet while Sandro’s absence may have felt palpable at times yesterday, supporters must be patient with Parker as he looks to rack up a run of games under his belt this term.
Before yesterday, Parker had racked up little more than 130 minutes of Premier League football since returning from the Achilles surgery that had kept him out until mid-December. His start against United was of course his first in the league all season and supporters can’t expect to a miraculous return to the sort of form that saw him voted club player of the year, overnight.
But as the games keep coming and Parker collects more starts under his belt, that form will return over time. Yes, the Tottenham midfield is going to have a different dynamic and rhythm to it with the ex-West Ham man playing alongside Dembele, but there’s no reason why that dynamic can’t evolve into one that continues to win games in this league. With Huddlestone and Livermore waiting in the wings to offer cover, Spurs have enough in the tank to cope without Sandro, without delving into the transfer market.
If the likes of a M’Vila was available for the right price, the club would perhaps be naïve not to explore the opportunity of bringing in another player to bolster their defensive midfield ranks. But that simply cannot be at the expense of acquiring either a striker or another attacking force in midfield.
In a perfect world, Spurs would be seeking to acquire a replacement for Sandro, a new striker and another creative presence in the engine room. But this isn’t a perfect world and supporters are well aware that the club doesn’t have the resources to bring in the sort of quality they need in three different positions.
Yet for as much of a blow a hypothetical loss of Scott Parker might be to Spurs, loosing Jermain Defoe would inflict a far more deadly and potentially even fatal wound upon their season. Any move to soothe the absence of Sandro must be made in addition to attacking reinforcements – not instead of.