With new players and bigger squads comes the juggling act of finding a team that is balanced and effective. Harry Redknapp now has that problem more than at any other time in his career. Although the Brazilian, Sandro was Spurs’ first bit of business of the summer, he has only just arrived in London after helping Internacional to the Copa Liberatores. Add to this the incredibly predictable scenario that Harry pushed through a transfer at the last minute in Rafael Van Der Vaart, and there are some big decisions to be made.
This time last year the partnership of Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios was blossoming, and providing an affective balance at the heart of the Spurs’ side. The form that both showed looked as though it would give Redknapp the opportunity to invest elsewhere, but where Huddlestone’s form grew to match his stature, Palacios began to struggle.
While injured towards the back end of last season, Modric took his place alongside Huddlestone in the middle, and Bale exploded down the left wing: as a formula, it worked. When Palacios returned, his form was underwhelming, and it has continued with the beginning of this season.
What Palacios has gone through regarding the kidnap and murder of his brother, would clearly have an effect on him personally, but directly after the incident he was playing some of the best football of his career. In the three games he has played this season, Palacios has struggled. In Switzerland he spent the first half like a lost child (although he wasn’t alone) and his other two games haven’t been a vast improvement.
All this means that Sandro’s initiation into the side can’t happen soon enough. Whether the 21-year-old is Redknapp’s first choice will be for him to decide. A young South American, trying to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, and a new lifestyle and culture, may take a while to settle and find his feet, and that is totally normal. But Spurs’ loss to Wigan has already got the cynics reeling out the European hangover excuses, and their fixture list will only get tougher.
When the likes of Inter come calling and Spurs need someone to get to grips with Wesley Sneijder, Palacios will need to step up to the plate. If Palacios continues to struggle in finding his form, then Redknapp will have to rely on Sandro far quicker than he may have intending on doing.
It is difficult to know what Redknapp’s first team will be now that their squad has been finalised, maybe Redknapp doesn’t know yet himself. If it remains as a midfield four, then the central possibilities include any combination of Sandro, Modric, Huddlestone, Palacios and Van Der Vaart (for Spurs fans piece of mind I won’t consider Jermaine Jenas a viable option).
Harry certainly has his work cut out. This is the biggest and most talented squad he has ever assembled, and it is down to him to find a system that works. Sandro has a lot of pressure on his young shoulders already, and it could end up being a rude awakening for the Brazilian. Spurs fans will hope he can live up to his price tag; he has made them wait for him and is still relatively unknown, with positions still undecided, a good start could lead to him making the role his own.
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