Why Tottenham need a ‘sizeable excuse’ should they fail
Given Tottenham Hotspur’s tumultuous transfer window experiences in recent times, it seems somewhat naïve to speculate as to what might happen over the next two weeks.
For supporters, the remit is plain, simple and overwhelming in its consensus. While fans may perhaps dispute which of the two takes priority in terms of coming through the door first at White Hart Lane, it appears all are in agreement that Andre Villas-Boas’ side need both a new frontman and a driving creative force in midfield to boost their quest for Champions League qualifications.
The recent additions of both Ezekiel Fryers and Schalke’s prodigious Lewis Holtby were welcomed amongst the White Hart Lane support but although fans were pleased to see chairman Daniel Levy completing deals earlier on in the window for a change, the duo aren’t likely to be able to do much to influence Spurs’ season. The 20-year-old Fryers has linked up with the club’s development squad upon joining, with German international Holtby not set to arrive in North London till the summer.
Tottenham’s goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers on Saturday only served to highlight the lingering impotence of the side’s forward unit and given the disastrous approach to the January window 12 months ago, supporters are understandably anxious to not see history repeat itself in 2012.
But despite many assuming that Villas-Boas’ recent insistence that the squad doesn’t need strengthening was little more than the exhibition of a poker-face, there is a school of thought that the Portuguese might not have been bluffing after all.
Recent speculation circling about the depth of Tottenham’s warchest and the possible retention of funds towards kickstarting the new stadium project is hardly anything new and it’s not without substance either.
But with little over two weeks remaining till the end of the window, it’s only served to fuel speculation that the club’s January shopping may have already reached it’s zenith. Scaremongers would have it down as the doomsday scenario where as optimists would tell you it’s more smart calculation than care-free catastrophe. Although what happens if Spurs don’t make any more moves during the transfer window?
If we purely look at the implications this would have for the squad, as opposed to the wider outlook of why the club haven’t sought to invest, it throws up some cautionary observations.
The most pressing situation facing Andre Villas-Boas’ side in coming weeks is of course a potential famine of talent in the forward ranks, with Emmanuel Adebayor now expected to imminently depart for the African Cup of Nations barring another soap opera. Publically, Villas-Boas has insisted that his side can cope adequately with only Jermain Defoe and Clint Dempsey in the squad, although the feeling amongst fans has been that this is little more than a public front.
Yet if we do take AVB at face value, while it’d represent an undoubted risk, he’s hardly being delusional in his expectations. The side managed to cope just fine – albeit with its share of teething problems – till nearly mid-November with only Defoe and Dempsey to pick from up front. With Togo sitting at 66/1 to win the tournament, you get an idea as to quite where their chances lie in advancing to the latter stages and if they do exit at the group stage as expected, Adebayor may only miss Spurs’ next three games.
The issue here is that such has been the lack of contribution the former Manchester City striker has made this season, even if he was to miss the African Cup of Nations all together, the side could still do with another frontman. Considering Spurs went into the QPR game having created more chances from open play than any other team in this league, the case for purchasing a new striker hardly constitutes rocket science.
Although should Spurs amble on without another striker for the rest of the season, issues with the supply line to their attacking unit is hardly without its faults, either. In fact, you can make a case that such has been the side’s inability to feed their strikers and breakdown stubborn defenses; the need for a creative spark in midfield is of higher urgency than a new forward.
The Lilywhites have been linked to everyone from Christian Eriksen to Wesley Sneijder in recent weeks, but should they stick with what they’ve got, they’re going to have to hope their current attacking contingent really raises their game as the season continues.
Before his recent injury, Clint Dempsey finally began to show signs that he was capable of offering Villas-Boas a productive outlet in the No10 like role he was being asked to play, but he’s going to have to find another gear if Spurs have designs on keeping the pressure on for a top four finish. Gylfi Sigurdsson has cut a frustrated figure at times, but given a lack of a real run of starts in the league, perhaps the jury remains out on his ability to really make a difference in this Tottenham midfield.
Ultimately, it’s not going to be game over for Tottenham’s season if they fail to bring much in the way of reinforcements in. Given Dempsey’s poor showings up front on his own, the biggest worry would be overcoming Adebayor’s absence, but should come out of that unscathed, this squad still has enough to compete for a top four finish.
But despite it offering a second January in which Spurs have failed to strengthen, in not buying reinforcements, Daniel Levy is yet again failing to back Andre Villas-Boas following the debacle that was their summer transfer activity. It’s early days and a lot can change in the next fortnight. Yet if Tottenham fail to produce during the transfer window, fans will be expecting something in the way of stadium-based developments to boot. And if that’s the case, the club could do with being a little more honest with supporters.