Football FanCast columnist Fanos Kyriacou assesses the qualities of Didier Zokora and doesn't expect to see him in a Spurs shirt next season.
A conversation I had with a friend recently prompted me to write this piece on Didier Zokora. This friend was confused as to what he called "the mystery of Didier Zokora". He was basically saying that he felt Zokora has shown all the attributes of a good footballer, yet he never seems to be able to present them all at once and on a consistent basis. My response to this friend was a simple one, "there is no mystery, he is useless".
According to Wikipedia, "Didier Zokora aka "Maestro" is a midfielder who plays in a withdrawn defensive role and is a strong tactical player in the middle of the park". I'm not sure who wrote that but whoever did has got a fantastic sense of humour, I almost choked on my sandwich.
I challenge anyone to come up with a convincing argument on what benefit Zokora makes to the team. He is a defensive midfielder who is supposed to protect the back four, yet he consistently loses possession, his clumsy challenges are constantly giving away free kicks to the opposition in dangerous areas, his passing is awful and the less said about his finishing the better. His supporters point to his pace and athleticism as key attributes; that's all well and good if he was running a track event in the Olympics but it is quite simply not enough for a Premier League footballer.
Some Spurs fans who agree with my misguided friend compare Zokora to Stefan Freund and like the fact that the Ivorian displays the same characteristics as the German. I actually agree with the comparison to Freund in that they are both players who lack the quality needed to enhance a footballing side. They may have big hearts, they may try their best for the club; both of which are admirable attributes, but ultimately a central midfielder should offer a hell of a lot more than that.
I have got nothing personal against Zokora, in fact I do actually think he has developed a real affection for the club and I was very impressed that he stepped up to take a penalty in the shoot out against PSV even though he had never scored for us. His reaction to Berbatov's penalty in the Carling Cup final was also priceless and brought a smile to my face as he was obviously reacting in the same way that most of us fans were reacting at that point in time. I just feel that sometimes Spurs supporters need to be more ruthless in their thinking. For the team to move forward and achieve success players like Zokora need to be replaced with players who can contribute positively to the side.
It is almost certain that we will see a completely new look to our midfield next season as Juande Ramos embarks on his first full season at the club and I am sure that Didier Zokora will be one of those who will be replaced, as Ramos has clearly shown in his short time here that he has got no time for sentiment and he will be ruthless when it comes to the players he selects.