the problem with this season and last for tottenham? they set the bar too damn high. make it to the quarterfinals of the champions league, and suddenly everyone expects you to do it again next year.
such are the risks of success, i guess.
despite turning in a massively entertaining –if not cardiac– first half of the season, the bruises one takes for such success looks set to be cause of their demise. a thin and ultimately not that talented squad (and perhaps manchester city’s oil-drenched billions) mean spurs find themselves again staring enviably back up at the perch they had worked so hard to reach and capitalize upon this season.
in order for tottenham to even consider the thought of a top four finish next season, they have to spend big on world class talent. harry said it. the pundits are saying it. the fans demand it. i’m assuming the players problably want it too.
at least one striker, a right back, and a goalkeeper are not just desires, but necessities.
yet keep in mind that there will be no champions league money rolling in next season. honestly, they’ll be lucky to get europa league money at this point. so while redknapp said they need to open the checkbook this summer, he also knows that money will be tight at white hart lane.
so how can spurs possibly spend big with lower revenues next season? unfortunately, the answer to that question is every fan’s most hated phrase around transfer windows…
“we’ll have to sell to spend.”
it strikes fear in the heart of supporters because we know that means you have to sell valuable assets to be able to buy more potentially valuable assets. none of us want to see our star players go, but that’s usually what that means. spurs faithful the world over know this story well, with the somewhat recent departures of berbatov and carrick to manchester united used to fund the building of the current squad.
sure, they could trim the fat in the squad instead. hutton, jenas, palacios, bentley, keane and maybe even defoe could all go as they aren’t really up to the grade that a champions league level club should expect. pavlyuchenko (himself on the edge of the previous “list of insufficients”), cudicini and kranjcar are all wanting to leave. not all will go. but the sale of a majority of them combined might be enough to snare one significant signing.
so that means a big gun will have to be sold if there’s going to be any “big” investment in the squad. bale, modrić and van der vaart have all been heavily linked with the usual suspects(united, chelsea, madrid, barcelona, inter), so it’s safe to assume that the three of them would give spurs the most leverage in the transfer market.
but as everyone is keenly aware, they’ve all been crucial to tottenham’s recent successes. how could they possibly let them go?
modrić is the best of the three and the one who’s loss would be felt the most, despite the fact that he hasn’t received as much hype as bale and rafa. he would have absolutely no problem slotting in at united or barcelona. tottenham literally have nobody who can replace him in the current ranks, as is visible every time he doesn’t play (or even played out of position on the left). even if they pick off charlie adam from a relegated blackpool in the summer, that wouldn’t be enough to fill the void. in my opinion, luka is virtually unsellable.
bale is a trickier proposition. whether he deserved the pfa player of the year award or not, he has had one hell of a 18-month run. from the transfer list to the hot list, he’s rightfully earned himself all of the speculation he now garners with some glittering performances. he’ll be tough to hold on to for that very reason. he’s been one of the club’s brightest stars in the last two seasons, and you never want to sell off a young player that is one of the best players in the world (or my favorite player!)
but i’ll also be the first to admit that his gareth’s form has dipped recently. it’s possible that is due to his injuries and not regaining full fitness from them, or it could be that the world has finally learned how to neutralize him. while i certainly wouldn’t claim that he’s a flash in the pan, i do worry that he could be. maybe it would be better to cash in on him now while his value is at it’s peak. however, his recent injury could also dent his appeal.
and that leaves rafael van der vaart. the dutchman was the catalyst for spurs’ early season red hot form, as his goals kept us all from noticing that tottenham’s forwards don’t know how to score them. he brought the fire, flare, and excitement that seemed to be the missing piece in tottenham’s quest to break into the english elite. we all wanted to believe that anyway. regardless, the way he played in the fall no doubt raised his transfer value
it didn’t take long, though, before the praise inflated his ego. he couldn’t seem to get a lodge a full 90-minute match, and soon publicly vented his frustration of being subbed off so often by ‘arry. sometimes he morphs into a dribble princess, keeping the ball to himself when he has it and throwing his hands up in frustration when his teammates don’t give it to him. though often started as a right-sided attacker, he often drifts wherever he pleases during the course of the match, murdering the team’s shape and crowding the space of central players. sure, he’s better when he get’s to play the much desired “rover” role. but is it really worth the affect it has on the team’s performance?
so long story short, if you have to sell one of the three, make sure that it’s van der vaart.
look, redknapp wants to play in a 4-4-2. after all, he is english and loves the long ball (right peter crouch?!). tottenham never played particularly well in the 4-5-1, and that’s the formation they had to play with vdV in the line up. it provided enough cover in the midfield to allow the former gypsy to roam the field at his whim. but by selling him off, spurs will have enough room on the pitch to play another striker, and thus justify buying a world class forward.
the dutchman also appears to be one of the only players in the squad with a huge ego (at least one that affects the squad), and has a penchant for biting the hand that feeds him. mabye letting him go would be a boost to team chemistry too. i don’t know; i’m just speculating here.
we all know that someone has to be sold to take this team back to the promised land. there’s no denying it. nobody wants it to happen, but then again, none of us really wanted dimitar or michael to part ways either. look how well that turned out.
who ends up on the chopping block, or whether it will happen at all, remains to be seen. van der vaart makes the most sense to me, but then again, it’s all just a toss up anyway. because if things continue on this way, we’ll probably be fighting relegation next season anyway.