Harry Redknapp has a habit of signing former players: Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Younes Kaboul and Niko Kranjcar are all in their second spells under Tottenham’s charasmatic manager. So it shouldn’t be a suprise that for the last two years Spurs have been linked with former Portsmouth player Sulley Muntari; Inter Milan’s powerful midfield workhorse. On Tuesday Muntari had a chance to shine and show Spurs fans why Redknapp, according to the press, seems so keen to re-sign him.
When I was asked to write a piece on Sulley Muntari performance I was a little worried. I’d watched the game and had barely heard his name – how do I know how well he’d played if he didn’t make any impact on the game? Then I realised I’d answered my own question.
Muntari’s only telling contribution to Tuesday’s match was falling for Modric’s dummy prior to the opening goal and leaving the field through injury after only 53 minutes. Muntari is a versatile player who can play central midfield or on the left and he is the type of player who, when on top of his game, will boss a midfield, keep possession and break up opposition attacks. But last night he was completely overrun by a dominant Spurs midfield who made the best team in Europe look decidely ordinary.
Muntari has a good pedigree, he has over 200 appearances in Serie A and was integral part of the Portsmouth team who qualified for the UEFA Cup in 2007, but last night Tottenham’s central midfield duo of Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric who ran the show. Both were fantastic on the ball, completed passes all over the pitch and put in a shift defensively whenever it was required of them. Modric especially has shown the Spurs faithful exactly why the 16 million spent on him after Euro 2008 was a shrewd piece of business – his assist for Van der Vaart’s opener was a sublime piece of skill. With the attention from last night surrounding Spurs’ impact players: Gareth Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon it was the efficient, but largely unglamorous, performances of the central two that kept Inter at bay.
So will all the rumours go away now? I’m not questioning Muntari’s ability, but Spurs would end up spending a lot of money (presumably) on a player who doesn’t look any better than what is already at the club. Behind Modric and Huddlestone there is Sandro, Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Jenas and Niko Kranjcar; all talented players vying for places in the starting XI who Muntari would need to compete with. I’ve said previously that Spurs’ midfield is a match for any in the country and when we were after Joe Cole I was a little skeptical as to where he would fit in and who would fall down the pecking order as a result. The same can be said of Muntari – on present form who would lose their place in the Spurs team to accommodate the Ghanian midfielder?
Muntari has proven himself in England before and could well end up there again – you don’t secure a £16 million move to Inter Milan from Portsmouth if you’re a bad player, but judging from Tuesday night’s match his proposed move to White Hart Lane could now be a no-go.