The Trouble With… Tottenham’s Transfer Policy

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So, the transfer window closed a few days ago and the two big spenders were Manchester City and Tottenham. Spurs ended up spending around £47million on five players –

Robbie Keane from Liverpool – £15million or so

Wilson Palacios from Wigan – £14million

Carlo Cudicini from Chelsea – free

Pascal Chimbonda from Wigan – £3m

Jermaine Defoe from Portsmouth – £15million

All good players in their own right and all will probably help Spurs avoid relegation and climb up to mid table. But what strikes me once again is the short sightedness of their transfer dealings. 

Hey big spender

Hey big spender

There is the bizarre scenario of Keane and Chimbonda rejoining a club they only left six months ago, while Defoe was only gone for a year. Redknapp seems determined to rebuild much of the squad that were a dodgy lasagna away from Champions League qualification under Martin Jol in 2005/06 and not too far off in 06/07. The problem with this idea is that he has no chance of getting Michael Carrick or Dimitar Berbatov from Man Utd and they were the respective heartbeats of those sides. There’s a reason Fergie signed those two and not say, Jenas and Keane.

As close as he'll get to the United team

As close as he'll get to the United team

We talked recently about how signing Keane is a very odd move after signing Defoe. Defoe left Spurs the first time round as he wasn’t getting games due to Keane and Berbatov being first choice. As a partnership him and Keane never worked and as captain Keane would always play. I can understand that in light of Defoe’s ten week injury it made sense to sign someone but given that they were linked with the likes of Kenwyn Jones and Fred, it seems odd they plumped for Keane. What happens when Defoe is fit? Does Keane, who has been made captain again, get dropped? Does Defoe? If ‘Arry does try and play them together where does that leave £16.5million Modric? You can’t play all three of them at once (well you can, but you’d have a very small, unbalanced side). Bent, Bentley and Pavlyuchenko weren’t exactly cheap either. Redknapp insists they can play together but I’ll believe that when I see it.

I think this is probably Photoshopped...

I think this is probably Photoshopped...

Of course right now, the key for Spurs is to avoid relegation so to that extent the more options the better. Any players out of form, unhappy and eager to leave can be dealt with in the summer. But why have this problem at all? If they thought things through a bit more, they wouldn’t be in this position in the first place – squad wise and table wise. In recent history there are umpteen examples of Tottenham signings which have made you go “Huh? I thought they already a good option there”.  For example – 

  • Why was David Bentley signed last summer when Aaron Lennon was on the books? There’s only one spot on the right and neither are good on the left where there is an actual need.
  • Why was Darren Bent signed in 2007, at a time when Spurs still had Keane, Berbatov and Defoe? How did they think that all four could be kept happy?
  • Why was a good defensive midfielder never signed in the last few years?

 

There is a lack of cohesion over how transfers should be approached. On the one hand, Spurs have adopted Arsenal’s policy of buying up lots of young players to sell later.  They have spent a lot of money on the likes of Bale, Hutton, Dos Santos, Boateng and many, many more. No one has really been a success yet and it just shows how well Wenger did in plucking Vieira, Fabregas, Clichy etc from the rest. They also tried and failed with the continental approach, ex director of football Damien Comolli being responsible for many of the strange deals we have mentioned. 

Would you trust this man?

Would you trust this man?

Part of the problem has been the regular change of manager. Jol brought two consecutive fifth place finishes (their best since 3rd in 1989/90) but was sacked in October 2007 after a poor start. This saw Juande Ramos come which in theory was a good idea (he was quality at Sevilla) but for whatever reason he failed. This was not before dismantling much of the squad that came fifth. I’ve always said that Daniel Levy & ENIC are in a rush to sell Spurs, just as soon as they can market them as a side in the Champions League. The problems with this is that he panics and doesn’t give his managers time to put things right whenever a poor start is made. Thus a vicious cycle is created where, old manager is sacked, new guy comes in with his own ideas and players he wants, new manager then also fails and is sacked, newer guy comes in. And so on and so forth. 

 

We’ll never know if Jol would have turned it round in 2007/08 but I sincerely doubt they’d be in the mess they are now had they stuck with him. Sometimes it takes time but if you back someone they often come good. Martin O’Neill only came 11th in his first season at Villa but now they look like they’ll qualify for the Champions League. David Moyes has had two bottom half finishes in his time at Everton (including a 17th) but has now finally made them a regular top six side. Both have overtaken Spurs as clubs more likely to break into the top four. There’s a lot to be said for stability off the pitch and hard work off it. For too long Spurs have had neither hence their current struggles in the lower echelons of the Premier League.

 

T.

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