FanCast columnist Roy
James looks at the significant role
Vedran Corluka has played in the performances of Aaron Lennon this season.
just a s*** Aaron Lennon…" bellowed from the Doug
Ellis Stand, as the thousands of Spurs fans barracked Ashley Young.
I personally wouldn't mind a s*** Aaron Lennon at
WHL given how lacking we are for any natural width on the left hand side,
however this chant in my eyes was little to do with Young but more the
recognition of how far our No.7 has come. I don't know a Spurs fan who would
have shed a tear had we cashed in on him during the summer months and my
goodness thank god we didn't.
Somebody mentioned that David Bentley's biggest
contribution to the football club was in fact the upturn in form of Lennon who
became galvanised at the prospect of competition. Why that is certainly a valid
case, I actually believe that a lot of it is down to certain Croatian full back
whose arrival has given him license to roam without any real need to track back
at defend; Corluka's presence means that Aaron Lennon can suddenly play on the
front foot, something he has been unable to in the past two seasons.
During the past couple of season's Lennon has been
playing in front of two full backs who had the tendency to get forward at every
opportunity, which subsequently has meant that he has had to sit back and cover
in midfield. While Hutton and Chimbonda are good full backs their continue desire
to get forward often left us imbalanced and ineffective. Whilst I appreciate
that on occasions that you need that overlapping full back it has to be said
that they cannot rampage forward at every opportunity. Chimbonda in particular
use to bring the ball out of defence and go on a mazy dribble forward only to
end up passing it back to a now flatfooted Lennon who was behind him. It was
totally counterproductive, it never gave Lennon the chance to take on full backs
regularly and his confidence was shot to pieces as a result. We all questioned
at the time as to whether he had lost a couple of yards of pace due to injury,
but this season it has proven otherwise.
I don't know what supporters feel about Corluka, but
for me he is an excellent defender. Although not blessed with any great pace,
his positional sense is second to none and he can actually play a bit with the
ball at his feet. Due to his lack of mobility you don't often see him surge
pass Lennon, which is a blessing really as it gives Lennon the freedom to roam.
You only had to look at the difference he made when he came on and Ashley Young
suddenly lost that freedom he was enjoying against Zokora. In the end Young was
spending most of the time trying to back track Lennon as he continued all game
to torment Villa.
Corluka's job is simply to feed Lennon at every
opportunity and provide him with that defensive barrier to free him up, the
Croatian fulfils that role perfectly and his presence in the team is a big
reason as to why Lennon has turned up a gear this season. Receiving the ball on
the front foot is what brings the best out of him, something he never really
got with Hutton or Chimbonda.