Change can do you good, apparently. Daniel Levy probably wasn’t listening to Sheryl Crow when he was appointing Andre Villas Boas, but the crux of that song could hold a fair bit of meaning at White Hart Lane next season. Could a dashing of new players and an injection of youth into this Tottenham squad be just what’s needed to propel them to headier heights?
A brief look at this current Tottenham squad offers some interesting analysis. On paper, Spurs’ strongest staring XI, set up in the preferred 4-4-1-1 formation, isn’t particularly easy to pick holes in.
Of course, football is a lot more complex than how the players look on the team sheet. But a steady, if not spectacular goalkeeper in Brad Friedel, was supplemented by a back four that picked itself all season (with the obvious exception of Ledley King at centre-half).
The attributes of Scott Parker and Luka Modric speak for themselves and whilst Gareth Bale is unswappable, supporters value Aaron Lennon’s balance in high esteem- he was certainly missed when out injured. Rafael van der Vaart had another successful season in front of goal and Emmanuel Adebayor hit a fantastic 17 league goals.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t faults in that side. But if we shelve the issues of rotation and tactical set up away from home momentarily, there aren’t any obvious players in that side which you would instantly want to pluck out and replace. However you feel about Harry Redknapp, if he had that exact team for another league campaign, does it really seem that unfeasible that another challenge for third place couldn’t be on the cards? You would think they’d be there or there abouts.
Yet the last few weeks have brought with them something of a mini-revolution in N17. Whilst not quite a coup d’état, the replacement of Harry Redknapp brings with it a change in ideas and a new philosophy. And consequently, Spurs are facing perhaps the busiest summer of activity at White Hart Lane in several seasons.
Emmanuel Adebayor has returned to Manchester City and may or may not return. Luka Modric looks more than likely to cut his ties with Spurs in an off-season which may finally spell the end of club legend Ledley King’s time at the club; as a player, at least. Add to that the chance that Villas Boas might look to replace the veteran Brad Friedel and Tottenham are suddenly staring at a new-look spine to the team.
Superficially, this seems like something of an upheaval. But the mood at White Hart Lane feels drenched in cautious optimism and dare you say it, even relatively buoyant. Supporters aren’t afraid of the impending changes.
Because as good as brand of football that Spurs employed last season, they began to feel like the sort of film churned out on ITV2 every evening for a fortnight- decent entertainment, but pretty repetitive after the hundredth time. You always know how it’s going to end. For all the talk of Redknapp’s missing Plan B, sometimes you just felt even the players knew their endless spells of possession and domination were going to end fruitless. A completely unfounded hunch of course, but maybe it’s a good thing that those XI players are going to be shaken up a bit.
And already, it feels like just the right sort of players are making their way to North London. We can wax lyrical all day about Gylfi Sigurdsson’s abundant potential. But it’s his youth, his determination. He’s not afraid to shoot, to have a pop and try something different. Sigurdsson won’t bring with him a default Tottenham mode, if such a thing exists.
The impending arrival of Manchester United youngster, Ezekiel Fryers, is another that can make a subtle, yet real difference to Spurs next season. No one is saying he is going to come in and tell Benoit Assou-Ekotto to sit in the boot room. But he should be coming with the hunger and passion to make his mark on this team. If he offers genuine competition for ‘Disco Benny’ at left-back, then that is something which is only going to enhance this Tottenham team.
Jan Vertonghen’s exhaustive move to Spurs might be made into a three-hour biopic one day. But when he does arrive, he’ll bring something new to the team and can hopefully finally begin a period of stability in the continuously yo-yoing defence at White Hart Lane. As already mentioned within these columns, the Ajax skipper’s move can invigorate Michael Dawson again. This can only serve to galvanise the club.
This isn’t a call to ignore the potentially hazardous future that may await Tottenham. Villas Boas must get off the ground running quickly and if Modric does leave, then the premise of ‘change’ seems nothing more than a diversion tactic.
But a change can help Tottenham Hotspur. It may have always been on the cards, but it’s time we embraced it for what it is. This is a chance for new players to come in and bring with them more competition for places, different ideas and a hunger and drive for success.
Is your glass half full or half empty this summer? Is change a positive at White Hart Lane or a potential negative? Let me know how you feel, tell me how you view it on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus