Under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed a fruitful few years, during which they finished in the top four of the Premier League twice in three years and reached the quarter finals of the Champions League. Fast, flowing football was the order of the day on any given Saturday down at White Hart Lane and the Spurs faithful were witness to some tremendous performances which, at some stage, had them dreaming of the title.
What has changed? Well, a fair bit really. Harry Redknapp has gone, sacked in the summer after failing to steer the club into the Champions League. The core of the squad is still there – key players such as Gareth Bale (who looks lean and trim), Aaron Lennon, Scott Parker and Rafael van der Vaart will be keen to kick-start the club into an exciting new campaign. Emmanuel Adebayor has just signed on the dotted line in a £5 million deal from Man City and well-respected Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson joined from Hoffenheim after impressing on loan at Swansea last season. Oh, and most importantly, there is a new manager in town with former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas taking the reins at the north London club.
There is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the new season and, despite an opening day defeat at Newcastle, they still created a host of chances and wouldn’t have been too down-hearted with their performance. All said, I have a funny feeling that this may not be Spurs’ year. Oh, of course, they won’t struggle. Gone are the days of battling it out in mid-table but the top four this year? I’m not sure.
What will still be playing on most Spurs fans’ minds is the prolonged Luka Modric transfer saga. The saga which has rumbled on throughout the last month or so and which, at the time of writing, will most likely end in a mega-bucks move to Real Madrid. As great a club as Spurs are, not many can compete with the lavish riches on hand at the Bernabeu. If the Croatian departs for around £34 million it will doubtless be considered great business for a player who cost them the relatively paltry sum (in current footballing terms) of £16.5 million. The damage this could have on the team though could take some repairing. A lot of Spurs’ intricate attacking moves during last season went through the little man – his positional sense, awareness of his team mates and intelligent play was pivotal to the way in which Spurs won most of their early season games. Bale provided pace, Adebayor the finish but Modric was the man making everything tick in the centre of the park. His departure will leave a gaping wound in the Tottenham midfield.
Additionally, with a new manager in place – new tactics, new ideas – it may also take some adjusting for the players, many of whom will have grown accustomed to the Redknapp regime. Villas-Boas, who signed a three-year deal at White Hart Lane in July, will hope he doesn’t get burned again after failing to make his mark at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, the Portuguese has already wielded the axe with no less than seven players already being shown the door. The friendly, affable spirit which embodied Redknapp most likely will not be mirrored in Villas-Boas’ methods.
With key-man Scott Parker currently injured, Jermain Defoe’s future uncertain and Luka Modric almost certainly on his way out, the manager needs to act fast and draft in like-for-like. He’s a smart man who has already proved he has the credentials – here’s hoping he can rediscover the Midas touch he had at FC Porto and not the one he was dealt with at Chelsea.
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