Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was informed of the Dutchman’s availability just two hours before the transfer window closed and worked frantically in a race against time to pull off the sensational deal. The Van der Vaart signing was however, unplanned, and the 27-year-old did not originally feature in manager Harry Redknapp’s blueprint for the future of Tottenham Hotspur.
Redknapp, of course, guided Spurs to Champions League qualification last season, a feat he ranks amongst his greatest achievements in 27 years of football management. Big money signings were expected at White Hart Lane this summer, as the club looked to build on last season’s progress. Instead Redknapp kept hitting a brick wall in his attempts to land his top targets. It reached a stage where the 63-year-old went on record suggesting new signings were needed, urging his chairman to deliver the big name players craved by the club’s supporters.
“This is a chance Tottenham really shouldn’t waste because we have got ourselves in a position, the best position since the Premier League started, and we have to build on that,” warned the former Portsmouth boss.
Spurs fans were also voicing their dissatisfaction and concerns over the club’s lack of spending. A quick glance at the Tottenham page on the BBC Sport 606 Forum as the transfer window drew to a close painted a picture of doom and gloom over the club’s summer transfer dealings. One post entitled ‘Standing still while others improve’ claimed Levy had not backed Redknapp in the transfer market, while another supporter wrote: ‘I just really hope Redknapp hasn’t missed the chance to take us to the next level.’
Redknapp watched on in dismay as moves for Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano and English duo Joe Cole and Scott Parker collapsed. Signing a striker was clearly a priority for Redknapp, as oppose to another attacking midfielder where Spurs have overwhelming options to choose from. Yet at a reasonable price, the playmaker remains a first-class signing who can make a huge difference.
Spurs did also manage to capture the experienced William Gallas from Arsenal on a free transfer for additional defensive cover and the highly-rated Brazilian youngster Sandro. Both players should prove to be sound additions to Redknapp’s squad. The manager was also able to keep all of his squad together and Spurs will benefit from this continuity and consistency this season. Fans should also be satisfied that after missing out on deals for a number of top targets that Redknapp did not simply sign sub-standard players to make up the numbers. Although it is always wise to have a Plan B.
Tottenham certainly haven’t been shy in terms of splashing the cash in recent seasons. The club hit the headlines last summer after figures revealed they had outspent the top four sides in the country over an 18 month period from January 2008, with an astounding £150m spree. The likes of Wilson Palacios, Peter Crouch, Sebastien Bassong and Niko Kranjcar were all brought in to reaffirm the club’s reputation for having vast strength in depth at their disposal.
In strikers Crouch, Robbie Keane, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe they have one of the most potent attacking quartets in the Premier League. Luka Modric, Kranjcar and VDV have enough skill and ability to cause havoc and there are plenty of other alternatives including David Bentley and Aaron Lennon for the manager to call upon. Redknapp also has enough pedigree in defence to have confidence in his side’s capabilities at the back. Youngsters Danny Rose, John Bostock and Dean Parrett also point to a promising future.
The arrival of Van der Vaart was certainly a bonus for Spurs this summer and, despite concerns, Tottenham have a squad more than capable of challenging for the top honours. Redknapp and the club showed intelligence and diligence in the transfer market this summer and still managed to add three top quality players who could make the difference this season. Maybe other clubs should take note.
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