Why Daniel Levy has to deliver the transfer goods
It is, fortunately or unfortunately depending on quite how miserable you are, that time of the year already. Wrapping paper has already began to invade supermarket aisles and Roy Wizard is already approaching, somewhat harrowingly on the horizon. In case you hadn’t guessed, it’s nearly December- and we can all start looking forward to the January transfer window.
Yet if you’re a Tottenham Hotspur supporter this winter, it’s fair to say that the festive period brings with it a sense of urgency that’s previously been missing in the last few seasons. Andre Villas-Boas’ side have looked a somewhat malfunctioning unit in recent weeks and despite being besieged by injuries, you get the feeling that an influx of new personnel could be vital, should they wish to push on this term.
But supporters will be writing out their Christmas lists, perhaps more in hope, than expectation. No one’s entirely sure what unworldly sin fans committed to deserve such a miserable January, but their Santa Claus like figure in chairman Daniel Levy, promptly delivered to serve up a stocking full of cole last time round.
The star additions, at a time when the side were desperately in need of an element of added verve and stability, amounted to the veteran pairing of Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha. Add to that the departures of Vedran Corluka, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Steven Pienaar, and the Lilywhites indulged in a woeful bit of January business.
But where as last season Tottenham were in need of a sprinkling of depth to keep their season ticking over, things feel a little different this time round.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side doesn’t need a couple of spare parts when the January transfer window opens, more vitally important first-team components. Daniel Levy, for all his fiscal nous and transfer market brinkmanship, badly let the Portuguese down during the summer. Despite making a handful of mistakes himself, many of the troubles that Villas-Boas is currently facing, are the legacy of the chairman’s high-stake game of transfer poker.
It was of course, one that Levy ultimately lost. The weeks of haggling with Real Madrid over Luka Modric gave the Essex-born businessman with near enough one solitary week to achieve what were attainable targets for Andre Villas-Boas. But the likes of both Porto’s Joao Moutinho and Shakthar Donetsk’s Willian were left to slip out the North London club’s hands in the dying moments.
So after asking for a midfield metronome and a dynamic, versatile attacking talent, he was given a square American peg to fill his two 4-2-3-1 shaped holes.
Again, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out quite how highly Clint Dempsey may have figured up Tottenham’s wish list. Considering both the timing and the slapdash nature of the deal, the American represented the doomsday transfer scenario for Levy. It sounds harsh, and considering he scored 17 Premier League goals last season, it is to some extents also unfair. But the legacy has been a player who fits neither here nor there in the Portuguese’s system.
And it’s within Spurs’ attacking unit, particularly centrally, that they must look to strengthen come January.
Within the attacking trio that Villas-Boas prefers to play behind a lone front man, the most central of the three, is where he seems to be finding the most problems.
In both Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson, Spurs have acquired a couple of attacking talents with some varying talented skillsets. The problem is, they don’t seem to be able to apply them to their new role particularly well.
Tottenham have struggled to find a consistent rhythm or cutting edge up front this term and neither Sigurdsson or Dempsey have proved an adequate outlet to channel their method of attacking play through. Looking neat and tidy is all very well, but the system requires so much more in order for it to work.
They need someone who can offer a real goal threat, but with the presence of mind to bring the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and either Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor into play. Supporters who watched on begrudgingly during the 4-2 home defeat at Chelsea – in which the Eden Hazard or Oscar-like figure that they crave, actually served to carve them up – would have been distraught watching them again at Stamford Bridge this week.
Tottenham have been reportedly willing to reignite their interest in Shakhtar’s Willian, a player that they seem to be in desperate need of, but his two goal cameo against the Blues in the Champions League has undoubtedly bumped up a transfer fee that they already had deemed too dear. Malaga’s talented Isco and Ajax’s super Christian Eriksen represent a superb alternatives, but either way, Daniel Levy is looking at a sizeable investment if he wants to buffer Spurs’ attacking resources.
It also seems as if Spurs’ perennial search for a striker, will labour into yet another transfer window. With Villas-Boas preferring a one man strike force, you still feel that Spurs could do with another striker capable of leading the line on his own. Emmanuel Adebayor has only just come back to fitness, but past the awkwardly suited but so far efficient Jermain Defoe, Tottenham look short. Dempsey has looked questionable when asked to play the role and a long term injury to either Defoe or Adebayor would leave them in some big trouble indeed.
Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge could represent a sensible option should Villas-Boas go looking to his ex-employer and as unlikely as it seems Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s name seems to be cropping up a little more frequently in the gossip columns Although with a certain Fernando Llorente’s contract expiring next summer, could Spurs persuade Athletic Bilbao to part with their prized asset?
With injuries ravaging the engine room, a look to find a player capable of easing the load on Mousa Dembele wouldn’t be a particularly bad shout, but there is a feeling that the Joao Moutinho ship may have sailed, potentially to the trappings of Paris Saint-Germain.
Tottenham, as with any team in the league, could do with an influx of fresh blood come January. But far from the addition of reinforcements, Spurs are in need of still fixing the half-assembled project from last summer. It’s a tight run ship at White Hart Lane, but Levy has to find a way to back his man. Or else, it could be a long new year ahead.
Who would you bring in to Spurs this January? Join me on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me what you think.