Not the end of the world at White Hart Lane
It may have come as a surprise to some of the more doom-mongering contingent amongst Tottenham Hotspur’s fan base, but regardless of their fate in the January transfer window, the show must go on.
The club’s generally perceived failure to sign another frontman last month may have left most in the white half of North London disappointed, but since the transfer window slammed shut last Thursday, that disappointment appears to have morphed itself into something resembling mass hysteria at White Hart Lane.
Yet in spite of the moral panic that seems to have embedded itself within N17 in recent days, the side’s 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion yesterday served as a timely reminder that the end might not be quite so nigh for Andre Villas-Boas’ side just yet.
Claiming that Spurs are set to circumnavigate their stormy waters up front would be as reactive as the cries from some that their assault on a top-four Premier League finish may have been irreparably damaged following last month’s events. Beating an out-of-form Albion side reduced to 10 men for the best part of 90 minutes hardly constitutes an accurate barometer for Tottenham’s short-term future prospects.
But on the same grounds, neither does it serve as a baseless fixture for any future optimism. Because although Spurs aren’t likely to emulate Spain’s striker-less success any time soon, their current predicament isn’t the terminal, season-ending disease that many seem to have it written off as.
Make no mistake about it, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has taken something of an unnecessary risk during the January transfer window, but he hasn’t defined Tottenham’s season in not shelling out for a new frontman.
Regardless of the volatility that the winter transfer market invokes, a club with the sort of lofty ambitions that Spurs possess shouldn’t be taking the chances they have done in neglecting to bolster their ranks. It wasn’t about shelling out a club-record fee for Leandro Damiao last month, it was about adhering to common logic.
Tottenham have been ambling on with just the two strikers all season in Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe; the former has been struggling for form all season and is currently away on AFCON duty and the latter’s also seen the goals dry up in recent weeks. And that’s not even taking into consideration Defoe’s recent injury issues. At the very least, Spurs needed some form of short-term cover. Neglecting to even seek a Louis Saha-like figure for the season’s run in is a roll of the dice they didn’t need to take.
Yet equally, it’s not a roll of the dice that spells the sort of pre-determined gloom that some seem to believe.
Spurs may have only lost Defoe to injury yesterday, although you would have thought they’d been without him for several weeks now, such has been his recent performances in a white shirt. This isn’t another of the needless digs that Defoe seems to have perpetually taken from his doubters this term, but for all the inconsistent service he’s received in recent weeks, his failure to score in the last ten games has left little to the imagination. Goran Popov’s red card made life a hell of a lot easier for the away side at the Hawthorns, although you couldn’t help but feel Tottenham felt an awful lot more creative with the England man off the pitch.
Again, this isn’t to claim that Spurs should consider taking a leaf out of Vincente Del Bosque’s book for the rest of the season. Although for as frustrating as Clint Dempsey may often be, between himself, Lewis Holtby, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, Spurs looked a very swift, mobile and quicksilver outfit indeed.
Jamie Redknapp’s musings that Bale was up there with the ‘Messis and Ronaldos of this world’ saw the footballing world collectively cringe in horror, but while the Welshman has some way to go to reach that level, he now resembles a legitimate goal threat for Andre Villas-Boas’ side.
His success centrally for the side in recent games gives the Portuguese a really encouraging and interesting option moving forward. Furthermore, in Dempsey and in particularly Holtby, he looks to have a set of players that could adhere to the sort of interchangeable movement needed to make a striker-less set-up stick.
Although even if Tottenham do come unstuck playing without an out-and-out frontman, supporters seem to be forgetting that they have one imminently returning to Hotspur Way.
Togo’s surprise exit to Burkina Faso will see Adebayor make an early return back to North London, although by the way some are acting, he might as well stay in South Africa. Yet while the ex-Arsenal man has rightly taken stick for some of his performances this term, he’s still got a massive part to play for this Spurs side.
He can hardly be blamed for the fitness issues that prevented him from making a league start till mid-November and while his sending-off against Arsenal left a bitter taste in the mouth, it’s worth noting that following his fourth start against Swansea, the club took 14 points in six games. Adebayor started all six of those games.
The big Togolese isn’t without his faults, but November’s game away to Manchester City has been the only one in which he’s started in his preferred position up front on his own. Playing alongside Defoe aides him little and sitting in front of a Lewis Holtby-like figure could prove profitable.
Either way, for however frustrating the failure to sign a striker may have been, it’s not the end of the world for Tottenham Hotspur. Whether Levy’s continued game of high stakes poker has gone a bridge too far remains to be seen, but in the mean time, there’s still room for optimism at White Hart Lane.