The weak link at Tottenham?

Sunderland defender Danny Rose

Following a successful loan spell at Sunderland last year, Danny Rose looks to return to the Tottenham fold once more this season. Andre Villas-Boas has favoured the young Englishman throughout pre-season with the experienced Assou-Ekotto forced onto the transfer scrapheap at the Lane. A man of undoubted ability going forward, but do his defensive liabilities make him the weak link for the Premier League club?

Danny Rose was reportedly forced out of the club’s plans under previous manager Harry Redknapp, who apparently picked on reputation ahead of anything else. The refreshingly new meritocratic approach favoured by Villas-Boas appears to have proved fruitful for Rose who looks to be a certainty to start in the left-back berth come Sunday. Rose’s following comments were reported by Sky Sports:

“This is the most I’ve played in pre-season,” he said.

“It’s nice to have a manager who gives you a chance and is not afraid to drop certain players.”

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This is an approach to be applauded by the manager who is seeking to engender a belief in opportunity through hard work and ability above anything else. However, is Rose really good enough for Spurs?

Throughout pre-season he has shown exactly the same shortcomings that marred his short appearance in Spurs colours in previous spells. The 23-year-old is incisive running at the opposition defence, but displays real tactical naivety when defending. Poor in the air and keen to give away needless fouls, surely he is as much a walking defensive disaster as Assou-Ekotto?

My judgements are of course made based on what I have seen of him playing, clearly Villas-Boas sees him train week in week out and is in a better position to judge the player. However, displays against Monaco and Espanyol brutally exposed the young starlet as a weak point in the Spurs side and unless something can be done soon he risks usurping another Champions League push. Perhaps the manager believes he can instil some tactical intelligence into someone who clearly possesses bags of talent.

Would Rose get into any of the other top 6 sides? Probably not. As it stand he is the best option Spurs have at left back and considering how bereft the world market is of wing-backs he is definitely a talent worth developing. A move for Fabio Coentrao has been heavily mooted but would an expensive spend on someone with exactly the same defensive shortcomings as Rose be prudent? Yes the continental sounding name sounds enticing, but the Real Madrid defender isn’t really a huge improvement on what the club already possesses.

Whether or not Rose proves to be a weak link is largely reliant on Spurs’ tactical blueprints. It would appear that Villas-Boas is keen to play both Walker and Rose as wing backs with a licence to push much higher up the pitch and offer an attacking threat. A dynamic three-man midfield should be able to screen the defence even with wide men pushing forward and I would imagine the likes of Sandro and Capoue will be hugely successful in this respect. Any tactical blunder or defensive slip by Rose would therefore likely be confined to the oppositions half and away from potential danger for Spurs. Naturally this kind of system runs the risk of conceding goals more regularly, substituting this with a much greater attacking threat. Would such a tactic be fruitful against the top four sides?

I would imagine Villas-Boas will favour a slightly more rigid shape for the better sides and this is where Rose’s inabilities will be exposed. It is for this reason that I think Spurs will re-enter the market for a bit more experience in this area, a difficult task I would point out.

Danny Rose has never really been granted that consistent run in the first team before, and until that happens it is extremely difficult to assess what sort of impact he may have. On the face of it he may look like an accident waiting to happen, but if Villas-Boas really wants to encourage youth development and meritocracy then the Englishman does then deserve a run in the side.

The reality is that the club do not have a better option as it stands, and their transfer market focus thus far has been on building a world-class midfield three for the manager. As long as Villas-Boas can get his centre halves fit, and finalise the deal for Capoue then I see no reason why Rose cannot be turned into an asset rather than a perceived liability. There is no substitute for first team experience at a club and therefore playing Rose may be a necessary risk the North Londoners have to take.

Is Rose the solution at left back for Spurs?

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