Tottenham fans may have been left scratching their heads when the club announced it’s deadline day transfers of Louis Saha,33, and Ryan Nelson, 34. Not exactly the injection of quality many would have been hoping to turn unlikely title contenders into an unquestionable force for the remainder of the season. But Harry Redknapp has done it before, nicking in at the last minute to grab what he thinks to be a bargain and make the squad better.
Kevin Bond is absolutely spot on when he says fans should trust Harry’s judgement on the players. At this point nothing is certain for Tottenham and their start of season ambitions for a Champions League place—and nothing more. Bringing in the big-money signings now would have been a far greater gamble than what the two veterans represent. While on one hand it could have made Spurs unbelievable title favourites, it could also have gone the other way, leaving the team in a position where Champions League football is not secured and the price of big transfers leaving the manager—whomever it is—with very little to work with in the summer.
It’s also a fair assessment that this Tottenham squad needed extremely little, if anything, to continue it’s fantastic run in the league. Why tinker with something that is working so well? But as we’ve seen in the past Harry does like to get involved with the transfer market. The ‘wheeler dealer’ moniker that he was given by a reporter last year was nothing but compliment to someone who has done so well in previous windows. And at this stage why not take a gamble, even if it is on two players on the wrong side of 30? Louis Saha might not be Loic Remy but he has a wealth of experience at the highest level and could come in handy in the final few weeks on the season. Likewise, an international captain in Ryan Nelson will do nothing but good things for a club who have done well to add an extra senior figure at the club.
With the departure of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Steven Pienaar the squad do become lighter in that they have traded two regularly healthy players for two who have a history of long-term injuries. But by no means a bad move as both the Russian and South African were getting fed up of spending most of the season on the bench; even if it meant leaving the journey for something less glamorous just to get games then so be it. With the acquisitions from Blackburn and Everton Harry Redknapp will have no such trouble. The Tottenham back-line has had a solid helping of injury problems in the past and Nelson could even figure more than some would have thought, and Spurs’ attack has been incredibly lucky to avoid any long-term injury to key players. The most important factor in the Saha deal is that he gives a very capable option when the games start to pile up. Emmanuel Adebayor has shown in the past he can be found wanting in front of goal and continues to wander offside.
It was very unlikely that Tottenham would have used the January window to strengthen in a way that most fans would have loved. Instead they followed the rest of the top teams in the league and only brought in to give the foundation a few extra legs. The big pay-off will come in the summer when Champions League football is secured and a wider pool of talent can be attracted to White Hart Lane.
By no means write-off what Harry has done here; it may prove to be a very shrewd piece of business that has a far greater impact on the squad than many would have thought. One of his greatest characteristics as a manager is picking out and giving opportunities to those who are good enough and who can add something to the team. When Kevin Bond says trust Harry Redknapp then Spurs fans would be wise to follow the advice. This is a manager who has added extremely well to his squad with Scott Parker when no one seemed seriously interested. Adebayor has given them something different up front and Brad Friedel has brought stability between the posts. There are no glamorous £20 million signings here, but rather very clever additions that have paid off fantastically. There is every reason to believe the January purchases will have a similar effect.
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