Does Tottenham’s Etienne Capoue have a point?

Tim Sherwood doesn’t strike as the kind of manager (or man in football) who would take in the Basque derby or raise a discussion about the positives of Paco Jemez’s managerial principles amid Rayo Vallecano’s struggles this season.

It fits the narrative that the pundits, managers and journalists based in this country – though notably not all – rely on a drip, drip feed of information from the continent based on Champions League games and England internationals.

Could Andy Townsend or Jamie Redknapp have explained to those unaware why Newcastle had bought Yohan Cabaye when they did, why he was arguably more important than Eden Hazard in Lille’s title-winning season, and why Newcastle had landed a phenomenal bargain when they signed him? Probably not.

Etienne Capoue is right to feel aggrieved at having been left on the fringes of Tottenham’s team upon his return from injury. One, it speaks of Tottenham’s organisation and lack of clear thinking in buying players of Capoue’s type, only to ignore their contributions when they could have been of some use. And two, it speaks of Sherwood’s lack of knowledge about the player prior to taking on the job as Spurs manager. At least that’s the midfielder’s take on the situation.

But if there is a problem that needs to be resolved, it would make sense for the player to have a discussion with the manager about his position and likelihood of further minutes for the remainder of the season. There is a problem with the lack of knowledge in England about what goes on abroad, but it isn’t such a stumbling block that Capoue can’t get his season back on track at Tottenham.

It’s difficult to come to the conclusion that Capoue hasn’t been good enough, falling alongside a few who have failed to make an impression since arriving at White Hart Lane during the summer. The Frenchman has started one game under Sherwood; one since he played at centre-back where he and Tottenham were horribly exposed by Liverpool. But he was clearly a good player in France as a midfielder and Napoli see some value in him too, almost certainly to strengthen their midfield.

Capoue’s frustration is more than understandable: he wants to play at the World Cup. Had he still been at Toulouse or secured a move away during the January window – Napoli would have been a good move for him – he would have been able to take responsibility for his own chance of being part of France’s squad in the summer. The current situation does beg the question as to why Spurs bought him when they did.


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