The most recent barometer of Tottenham’s readiness for the Premier League season, was last Thursday’s marquee friendly against Valencia. And whilst it was by no means a complete disaster, it spelt out emphatically the issues that Spurs have yet to address during the summer transfer period.
The way in which Andre Villas-Boas’ side went to the Mestalla and enjoyed such large spells of possession, offered real room for encouragement. Valencia are one of the more technically accomplished teams on the continent and their impressive third placed finish under ex-coach Unai Emery is testament to that. Considering the starting holding pair of Jake Livermore and Jermaine Jenas may not even make the XI on Saturday, it made the feat all the more impressive.
But there was a stark difference between the two sides last week and it wasn’t difficult to distinguish which side carried the greater threat. Valencia looked dangerous whenever they went forward, and although Spurs went down to a couple of fantastic goals, it’s difficult to argue with the final result. Tottenham looked toothless up front and it’s no surprise that Mauricio Pellegrino’s team were happy to let Tottenham see so much of the ball. They didn’t do an awful lot with it.
And the frustrating thing for supporters is that nothing that happened last week was of any real surprise. The situation that Spurs find themselves with up front, has been well publicised all summer. Jermain Defoe is the only recognised striker at the club and as great a goalscorer he may be, he simply does not suit AVB’s new set-up. Some fans may feel bored of the continuous assumption that the well-liked Defoe has no future in the starting line up, but those who watched events at the Mestalla cannot be under any doubts; that was only a sampler.
Tottenham need at least one more frontman and they’ve known that for what feels like a very long time. And it doesn’t matter how you want to frame it, if Spurs go to Newcastle without that striker, they have in some respects, failed themselves in the transfer window.
No one is under any doubts that Daniel Levy will pull a frontman out of the bag before the transfer window slams shut, but there is something macabre in the way in which it appears to be left to the last minute. Some have suggested that what the Spurs supremo is doing is a masterstroke and that there is no ‘value’ in the transfer market before August. However right that might be, the concept of it is deeply flawed.
If that was true, in essence, Daniel Levy is saying to Andre Villas-Boas that he won’t have his first choice XI for the first or arguably the second fixture of the season. Depending on how many changes hinge on the sale of Luka Modric, that could even be perceived as writing the first game off. Regardless of whether you think Spurs already have enough in the tank to get past Alan Pardew’s side on Saturday, it simply isn’t good enough. Nobody needs reminding of how many points Tottenham missed out on guaranteed Champions League football last season. You must be prepared for every game in this league. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, is an apt little adage.
Levy cannot be panned for his running of the football club and the fact Tottenham Hotspur are looking to push on for another shot at Champions League football this season, is in no small part to the stance Levy has adopted since he became chairman. But that doesn’t mean he’s bulletproof. The Essex-born businessman has invested highly in disposing of Harry Redknapp and acquiring his favoured coaching set-up in Andre Villas-Boas and his team. The Portuguese needs the best possible start; leaving the team woefully short up front for the first game of the season seems a little bit counter-productive to say the least.
It is the responsibility of Levy and his team to acquire the transfer targets, not Andre Villas-Boas. And up front, the excuses are running out for why no one’s been brought in. Emmanuel Adebayor may be flailing around with wage demands but that isn’t an excuse. Spurs should have set a deadline and they should have enforced ultimatums to the Togolese international. Putting all their eggs in the bag of someone like Adebayor is a huge gamble and at the moment, it’s blowing up in their faces. If the ex-Arsenal man couldn’t agree terms with all parties earlier, it should have been a case of thank you and goodbye.
Similarly with another massively rumoured target, Leandro Damiao, Spurs seem to have postured for an eternity with the Brazilian. For near on 18 months now, Tottenham have tracked the Internacional starlet. They knew what the goalposts were going to be. If they are that keen on him, why was it decided to leave it till after the Olympics to table an offer? The odds on him having a good tournament were always high and consequently, his transfer fee would have risen. If efforts are being made to negotiate a lower fee, than they only have themselves to look at in the mirror.
You can never second-guess what has been going on behind the scenes and it would be foolish to suggest Levy hasn’t been working hard. One or two deals have been thought to have been brokered, only to fall apart and who knows who the board were working to acquire. But all of their rivals have done the bulk of their transfer work early and they head into the season more or less there. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen were excellent deals that were sorted out weeks ago. The problem is, that could only be the tip of the iceberg.
Tottenham need at least one striker, if not two. Arguably their most talented player has no future at the club and a replacement must be sought out. To top things off, the new manager supposedly craves a new goalkeeper to bring to the fore. The new season starts in a matter of days.
Levy will sort the problems out at Spurs and things will start moving quicker when, with all fingers crossed, the Modric deal goes through. No one is criticising the chairman for refusing to be bent over by Real Madrid. But if the team struggle to make an impression upon the Newcastle United defence on Saturday, don’t look at Adebyaor, Damiao or Villas-Boas for criticism.
How do you feel about Spurs transfer brinkmanship this summer? The right thing to do or a gamble too far? Let me know how you feel about how the summer’s gone on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and get involved with the Spurs talk.