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Spurs and Soldado Need Adebayor

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

There are very few places happier than White Hart Lane when Spurs score a goal against their rivals. The sheer impact of noise and celebration sweeps across the stands pushing every single thought from your mind, even in some cases the name of the goal scorer.

RobertoSoldado

You know something great has happened, you know its important but at that split second you can’t quite grab the magnitude of it. Its like an having the Theory of Relativity downloaded straight into your brain, its just a bit too big. As Glyfi Sigurdsson swept the ball home, bedlam erupted in White Hart Lane.

The gentleman a couple of seats down from me, turned around looking for his mate, when they finally made eye contact he pointed down towards his leg, his blue jeans had a massive rip down them, from groin to knee.

How’d that happen?

I don’t know, I have no idea!!

The thing about going one-nil up to Chelsea is that nagging feeling that tugs at you. You know we need a second goal,  your whole body craves it, yet it doesn’t arrive. Ripped jeans man, euphoria slowly settling on him is left pondering how he going to get home with half his crotch exposed, the rest of us wonder where that second goal is coming from.

Paulinho sprints into the area, beats Petr Cech at his near post but the post deflects behind. From the Park Lane lower crouched and poised to erupt into more celebration it looked like the Brazilian shanked it, TV later reveals we were inches from more ecstasy. The game, unbeknown to everyone turned at that very point.

The killer second goal didn’t arrive, our dominance was converted into nothing more than a slender lead. With a defence apparently as impregnable as ours, this may have been enough, but against Chelsea, a team who bathe in luck, it was never going to be.

So why didn’t we ram home our superiority as a title challenging team would normally? Were we at our maximum? Are we only one goal better than Chelsea?

There has been an obsession amongst Spurs fans, since Dimitar Berbatov took his Café Crèmes north, for the perfect striker. This season it seemed that the quest for a 9 was ended when we signed a man bought for what was at the time a club record fee.

Roberto Soldado, is a Spanish international good enough to keep the face scratching Chelsea number 9 out of the national squad. His arrival was heralded as the sign of things to come, yet six games in he remains on two Premier League goals, two penalties.

It’s a worrying statistic and one that if it continues will soon become one to beat us and him with. The truth is Soldado needs to start scoring, for his confidence, for the team and because he is a £26 million investment, 100% of which was based on his ability to score.

I am not starting to question his talent, but if this run continues then it’s a question thatwill be asked. Proof that he is a class striker is the fact that he plays for a international team quite capable of operating without a number 9, I just wish he would start scoring for Spurs. Of course he needs time to adjust, but at 28 and a full international, how much time do we afford him?

The biggest fear I had when we switched tact from Christian Benteke to Soldado was the fact that if he doesn’t score what does the  former Valencia man do?

Thankfully it was Soldado that helped create Siggy’s goal on Saturday, but bar that he was anonymous. Against Cardiff his chances were snatched, yes he did brilliantly to be at the right place at the right time, but there is no point being there if you aren’t tucking them away.

One player who’s absence was sorely missed on Saturday, was the much maligned Emmanuel Adebayor. I believe that Adebayor is the key to getting the best out of our Spanish striker.

Soldado has spent a career attempting to prove himself worthy, first to Real Madrid after they cast him off on loan to Osasuna then sold him to Getafe. When he arrived at Valencia, he then spent his time attempting to  prove himself the best Spanish number 9.

At Spurs for the first time in his career Soldado is in a position of comfort as the clear first choice striker for both club and country. Adebayor can be the spark to ignite the Spaniard back to his most clinical form.

Whilst Defoe and Soldado are similar in their style, Adebyor offers the opposition a different conundrum. When AVB switched one small goal-getter for another, the pattern of anonymity continued.

Never before had I hoped that Adebayor would come smiling down the tunnel saying he was fit to play. His goal in the away fixture of this game last year, is a lasting memory that whatever his faults, Ade offers something totally different and game changing to our other strikers.

When he regains full fitness, it will be his ability and different approach to being the focal striker that will drive Soldado to better performances and a goal scoring record.

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Hate for Hate Sake

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Before I had time to comprehend what had just happened, the ball found itself at the feet of Roberto Soldado. Watching on a stream that thankfully hadn’t stuttered in a few minutes I was convinced this was our break through, it wasn’t. Instead we had to endure another 30 minutes of tension and David Marshall making a name for himself.

Kyle Walker Arsenal

In the long run the three points that Spurs collected and the team continuing to gel are more important than any individual performance. However, as the euphoria of watching the Spurs players bundle on top of Paulinho faded, a question came up that had me pondering Spurs fans, and in this of course I include myself.

If the game had finished 0-0 how would we have reacted to Soldado’s missed chances?

Look at this question from a different angle.

Had it had been Jermain Defoe who had squandered the chances what would have been the reaction?

To take this question even further.

What if it had been Emmanuel Adebayor?

For our last home game I sat in the Paxton end. It was the first time I was back there since our 2-1 win over QPR last season where I spent 90 minutes in the most negative atmosphere I have experienced at the Lane for some time. I vowed to steer clear of the Paxton, however,  due to forgetting the on-sale date for the Norwich game, I took the only ticket under £40 left online and I found myself back there.

Whilst Spurs received widespread media coverage for the chants that were emanating from the Park Lane and Shelf, the comments that were springing up around me were far more offensive. As a man who is at home swearing or wandering the virtual streets of Los Santos, bad language doesn’t offend me, but what I found interesting was the context and the direction of it.

Why do some players attract abuse and others escape it?

On Sunday had Glyfi Sigurdsson’s shot that rebounded off the bar fell to Adebayor and the Togolese striker fluffed a golden opportunity, Twitter would have been in a meltdown. The abuse would have ranged from comic to borderline racism.

Had that miss occurred at White Hart Lane, what would have been the crowd reaction? The gentleman that spent most of the Norwich game, when he was at his seat, calling Andros Townsend “greedy female genitalia” would surely have suffered an embolism.

Adebayor is a £5 million signing from Man City, Soldado £26 million from Valencia. Why does Adebayor warrant abuse but Soldado doesn’t?

From the moment Adebayor signed full-time at Spurs there has been a narrative around him. Towards the back end of last season when he found some form the comments and derisory remarks still lingered. You may point to the Arsenal connection but we have seen something similar happen in our full-back positions.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto is without doubt an entertaining straight talking footballer. Under Harry Redknapp he hit levels of performance that no one other than Damien Comolli thought he was capable of, yet under AVB he lost some of that form.

However, despite a catalogue of average performances and rumoured unprofessionalism, he never once had to face a fraction of the grief directed at the full-back on the opposite side.

Kyle Walker, Young Player of the Year 2011/12 has to deal with an unacceptable level of abuse. If BAE attempts to dribble out of a tight corner, people shake their heads and smirk: “Typical Benny.” Should Walker attempt the same, abuse rains down upon him. There is a clear level of tolerance within the crowd. Some players can make countless mistakes before they are attacked, others don’t have that luxury.

The former Sheffield United player has the ability to become our right-back for the next 10 years, yet we are treating him with disdain. Walker always gives 100% for the shirt and is determined to make it as a top class right back, yet still this isn’t enough.

I am not claiming this is a issue only in the Paxton end, this is a social media/SKY TV watching/home and away attending problem at Spurs.

Why abuse Walker yet honour BAE? Why allow Soldado off the hook? And why label Adebayor a mercenary but no one else?

As we have seen thanks to an FA Statement and a comedian attempting to reignite his failing career, crowd reaction is one of the few elements left in football that can’t be micro-managed. However as Spurs fans we should all be pushing in the same direction, supporting the players, the team and not treating individuals differently.

Spurs lose as a team and win as a team, it is never as clear cut as this or that players fault we lost or drew. We are not and never will be a one man team. At Tottenham we are witnessing the birth of a new team, we should take this as an opportunity to unite ourselves and build a support to match what is occurring on the field.

On Saturday Chelsea come to the Lane, the masters of division, homemade banners and hate. It’s time to start supporting every single player, regardless of history, current form or Twitter likability. Stop singling out certain individuals, stop the tutting and groaning epidemic and instead lift your voices in support.

Love the Shirt.

Spurs Fixture Pile-Up Glory

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Madness it has been declared, dangerous says AVB, personally I think it’s brilliant. After a saga filled summer, tennis and some match involving a barbecued wicket and a wooden ball, three Spurs games in a week? Every Spurs fan will be delighted, especially if they are all as easy as the Tromso home game.

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Next up for the Lilywhites is Cardiff away, one of those games that historically Spurs would struggle at, however, AVB has, Emirates apart, instilled a real strength to our team away from White Hart Lane. An away day doesn’t have the same connotations it used to have, in most instances, we actually perform better away from the Lane than we do at it. Perhaps it’s the release of pressure from a now continually expectant White Hart lane crowd, but more likely it’s the mentality of the opposition.

Most self respecting home teams will attempt to attack, or at least feint to attack. An away team’s 4-6-0 formation, without even a gesture at employing a false 9 has become as much a part of a home fixture at WHL as the Sunday kick-off. The side affect of this negativity has been slow patient football from Spurs, something that doesn’t sit well with how we were all brought up to watch football.

Last night against Tromso AVB’s reign was perfectly encapsulated in 90 minutes. Start at a high tempo, score a goal then nullify the opposition. If we score another goal it’s a bonus, if we don’t control the game and don’t concede. Its not the thrilling Charge of the Light Brigade football, instead its well communicated football science. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but you have to admire the structure and planning behind it.

This weekend however, I expect a different game. Cardiff, Man City game apart, have had an average start to the season. Four points from four games is a decent return, but the feeling is growing that Cardiff really need to start picking up more than a point a game. The former Blue Birds need to benefit from Sunderland acclimatising to an influx of players, West Brom struggling to score goals and Crystal Palace’s tendency to implode.

They need points, not a point. Surely they will attack?

The opposition’s tendency to sit back and deny Spurs space behind them used to be a worry for me. Last season we saw West Brom, Southampton and Sunderland nullify us, only for the world’s most expensive player to bail us out. This year without him, the fear of being nullified again is non-existent.  Where once we relied on pace and power, new Spurs is all about guile and intelligence.

Pace and power can only bloom given the right conditions, space, plenty of space. Football intelligence and creativity though can spring up in the smallest of gaps. A run off the shoulder, a delicate through ball, a quick shift of direction, seconds later the best laid defensive plans are in smithereens.

When Willian chose the Rouble, many of us despaired at our desperate search for a number 10. However, this may have been a blessing, instead Spurs snapped up the much cheaper and younger Christian Eriksen. Of course its still only early in his Spurs career, but last Saturday he operated behind Roberto Soldado and knitted the team together beautifully. Then last night in a short cameo he proved that he has that something extra many of his teammates lack. Glyfi Sigurdsson is good, Lewis Holtby is good, but Eriksen is special.

A quick shift out of his feet and then a rasping drive which dipped and spun straight into the top corner. A beautiful goal from a player who should not be compared to a former Croat, Welshman or Rafa Van der Vaart. Eriksen is his own man.

Last night we also got a good look at Eric Lamela. He may not have had the impact that Erisken had on his full debut but you have to remember that despite being the same age (Lamela is one month younger) they are coming from two very different backgrounds. Erisksen has been playing Champions League football and winning titles for years. The Dane has been to a World Cup and Euro Championships, he is much further down the road in terms of development, Lamela is still learning.

The Argentine I have no doubt will turn into a superstar, but he needs time. He came to Europe only because his boyhood club River Plate were surprisingly relegated from the Argentine top division. Arriving at Roma he then had to deal with four managers in two years, including the brilliantly erratic Zenek Zeman, and fit into a team boasting one or two small characters.

Added to this he doesn’t have the benefit of 30+ international caps to his name. Lamela is a young 21 year old and I get the feeling he will need to come to terms with life off the pitch at WHL before he can shine on it.

 The only concern to come from last nights 3-0 win are the injuries to Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Younes Kaboul. At central defence and across the middle we have enough back-up, the most concerning issue is the injury to Danny Rose.

This is a testament to his development, many including myself had written him off, but Rose has knuckled down, came through a career defining loan move at Sunderland with glowing reports and made the left-back role his own.

Very few full-backs are born great, it’s a specialised role that needs time, dedication and maturity. Rose is giving the role the respect it deserves, hopefully his rise in form and ability can motivate Kyle Walker to step up his waning game.

Tromso done, Cardiff, Aston Villa and Chelsea to come. Fixture congestion? More like fixture glory. Give me more.

Happy 131st Birthday Spurs

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

On this day in 1882 a group of bible class students set in motion the forming of the club that we have come to love and occasionally loathe.  Perhaps after a depressing weekend many of us don’t feel like celebrating, this however is the reason why we need to make a fuss of Spurs.

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Today is a day of celebration, a day to salute those young men who created not only a club but a way of life for many of us. This is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have and wish Spurs a happy 131st.

Hugo, Jan, Paul and Bobby

There was a time when we would cast our eyes across the capital and covet what our neighbours had built. We had some great players, but we lacked a foundation, a solid base from where to begin. Tottenham were forever building from the top down, a classy winger, an attacking midfielder and occasionally a striker, but never the areas that mattered most, the centre of the team.

Today though as Spurs prepare to blow out 131 candles, we have a spine to our team that can challenge most of Europe.

Last summer we signed Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen, two players whose standout performances were unfairly eclipsed by the Los Merengues badge kisser. This summer we have added strength to their number in the form of Brazilian Paulinho and Spanish striker Robert Soldado. Through the middle of our team we have four top international class players.

Take a minute to ponder the spine that Spurs currently boast, even when we had the little Croatian, the Welsh winger and Rafa Van der Vaart, the core of our team was never this strong.

Franco Baldini

It is of course too early to judge his recruits, but the fact that Spurs moved quickly and decisively in the transfer market shows promise. The Director of Football in this country is a position that always creates confusion. Certain native managers refuse to work with them, whilst some sections of the press love to  report on supposed fall-outs, or a clash of ideas. Franco Baldini this summer though, made the DoF the new must have in football.

As Man United and others spent the day, and pretty much all summer striking out in various transfer deals, Spurs and Baldini passed Transfer Deadline Day with their feet up enjoying the wide-spread panic. It has been a long time since the close of the transfer window has been so quiet for Tottenham fans.

 On this day we should be happy that we have Franco Baldini, and praising every God in existence that he isn’t Joe Kinnear.

#ILike Under Armour

When the players smashed through the polystyrene wall wearing the new kit many of us immediately cringed at the Americanisation of our club. The use of smoke machines, #IWill  and veteran Brad Friedel all seemed wrong. Why couldn’t we just release our kit? Why did it need to be dropped? What’s with the #catchphrase?

As time passed though and the event slowly faded from our minds, we were left with a kit, something ironically that had been forgotten in all the razzmatazz. A kit that in all honesty, is pretty nice.

We have our navy shorts and socks back, there’s no flappy collar and the shirt has some nice subtle details which make it stand out. The logo may be a different shade of blue, but at least its not a red, or a short term loan company.

The shirt also manages to look good whether painted on to a strapping Nacer Chadli, pulled over a 40 year olds beer belly in Park Lane concourse or worn seductively by a lady boasting a flattering figure. It is essentially a shirt for all occasions.

At Spurs we have had to endure a few dull and down right dreadful kits, but this one thankfully isn’t. Good work Under Armour, just please tone it down for next time.

AVB’s Blue and White Army

On this day of celebration we should be happy that we have a man of undoubted class at the helm. This is the decisive season of AVB’s managerial career, this is the first time he has started a second season at a club and the first time in England where a team has been built to his specifications.

AVB is under unbelievable pressure, added to this he has had the biggest transfer saga in the history of football playing out at Spurs.  Where some managers might have cried, thrown a strop or charged out of the press conference, AVB handled himself impeccably all summer.

There is no doubt that the transfer saga had an affect on the Spurs team, but AVB to his credit never allowed the fallout to affect the clubs preseason preparations. Sunday’s result aside, Spurs have integrated seven new players, a new system and the loss of a focal point remarkably well.

In comparison to last season we are currently +2 in points and +1000 in positivity. The boos and jeers that marred the end of our first few games have gone, in their place is a faith in our manager and his beliefs. AVB had overtures from PSG and Real Madrid this summer, but unlike some he turned them down because he believes in Spurs and wanted to finish what he started.

Happy 131st Birthday Tottenham! COYS!

The Team That Bale Built

August 31, 2013 Leave a comment

As the curtain came down on the 2012/13 season, the overriding emotion was disappointment. We had missed out on lucrative European nights, by a single point. As the late spring developed into summer though it was the feeling that had it not been for Gareth Bale, those evenings under the floodlights would have been a pipe dream instead of an enticing smell coming from an open window just out of reach.

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The thought of Bale disappearing was one that most of us didn’t even come close to contemplating. Finally he had thrown down the shackles of being an albatross, his ears had been pinned back, the hair restyled, the YouTube Channel created and the celebration trademarked, on there own they meant nothing but together they pointed to an exit, but surely not this summer. Bale had more to do before he was the complete brand, until of course FIFA, BT and NBC got hold of his image.

Suddenly Bale was the poster boy of anything to do with the round ball. His marketability although still miles off Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and the now retired David Beckham was growing. Real Madrid wanted this new phenomena and Daniel Levy was only to happy to secretly sell the dream.

As Spurs fans we have been here before. In my lifetime of Spurs supporting I remember Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne leaving and more recently the departures of Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric, star players sold but never replaced. The money recouped was and in fairness to the club, mostly reinvested, but it was spent by gentlemen out of touch with how to recreate and fill a void.

 This summer at Spurs credit must go to Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini, although the sale of Bale must have been a reality since before the Confederations Cup started, we were left thinking this was nothing more than SKY stirring things up. The ITKS’, the sensationalised reports, were it appears true after all. While we guffawed at suggestions Bale was distressed, and pointed to the posters and PS3 games as proof of him staying, he was in reality secretly saying his goodbyes. It was a tremendous bluff by Spurs and one that has enabled us to dip so successfully into the transfer market.

Across London whilst that team in Red proudly announced that they had, and still do have, £70 million to spend, at Spurs we remained quiet. Instead we haggled, bartered and delayed with various chairmen and agents across the globe. The narrative was the same for weeks, with Bale staying we didn’t have a war chest, we had to fight for the right price. Had Bale disappeared to Madrid in July, then effectively every player bar Roberto Soldado (we met his release clause) would have been more expensive.

Its quite incredible to think that whilst Spurs have been spending on credit, Real Madrid are about to sign the most expensive footballer that has ever existed and he hasn’t even had a pre-season. Pressure better be something Bale thrives on because if he thinks the media glare this summer was bad, he is walking into a city obsessed with football, boasting its own newspaper, dedicated radio shows and 80,000 fans who think nothing of burning a Ferrari or two.

Thankfully though Bale’s state of mind is something that we no longer need to contend with. Instead we need to focus on his legacy at Spurs.

 Nacer Chadli, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado, and what looks like Vlad Chiriches, Eric Lamela and Christian Eriksen. If with Bale we were a one man team, without him we are one squad of terrific potential and potency. What the Welshman failed on the pitch to achieve, off it he may just have created a legacy.

In previous windows, especially those in the summer we have signed two, possibly three players who have taken us forward. Bale’s inflated price has enabled us to reconstructed our core. Add the names above to the those that are already at the club and is anything but our own pessimism holding us back from a title tilt?

Bale left the building seconds after the final whistle blew at Newcastle and the Geordies failed to win a £1 million bonus for their tea lady and other backroom staff. He wanted something he along with the rest of the squad were unable to give. Bale though has given us something we have waited a lifetime to see, an exciting, young and motivated squad with a manager at the helm we unanimously believe in.

I am going to miss Bale, as a player he was at times perhaps the finest I have ever seen. I wish we could have had Bale and the team he has enabled us to buy, but greed is a vice I try to steer clear of. Instead I will wish him well and I hope Madrid is everything he wants and needs. I along with every other Spurs fan now turn my attention to what has remained at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham is the club that Bill Nicholson built, but this is the team that Bale built. As it stands the greatest thing Bale has ever done for Spurs, is leave.

Parker: Completing The Circle

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

When Manchester City tore us apart 5-1 at White Hart Lane, Harry Redknapp demonstrated succinctly to Daniel Levy that Spurs were in desperate need of a holding midfielder. Personally I would have preferred a demonstration that involved graphs, PowerPoint and a spread sheet or two, but the message was loud and clear. Days later Scott Parker arrived, nearly two years on, the English midfielder is set to depart.

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It’s difficult to describe the affect that Scott Parker had on our team. Rather like Didier Zokora, Wilson Palacios and Steffen Freund before him, we loved his spirit and determination, but he will be forever remembered for his limitations.

Last season as Andre Villas-Boas attempted to create a more progressive, possession dominated team; Parker fell well short of what was required. He still gave everything he had, but age, injury and a fundamental lack of class limited him. When Mousa Dembele collected the ball there was a swagger to his play, when Parker found himself in possession, Leonardo Da Vinci doffed his cap at his attempt of circular perfection.

A 360 spin when coupled with ball retention and slice of vision is a masterful thing to behold. It has become the signature move for Barca’s Xavi and Juve’s Andrea Pirlo, but for Parker the full circle spin became a maze, once he started there wasn’t a way out.

Personally I never took the Englishman to heart, his rejections in favour of the wages on offer first at Chelsea, Newcastle then unbelievably West Ham stung. Here was a player clearly following his accountant’s advice, rather than any footballing logic. His two years battling against relegation in East London were just deserts for a man who could have been playing at White Hart Lane before his twilight years came calling.

One attribute Parker has never lacked though is determination, and it was this overbearing willingness never to give up in our “Mind The Gap” season that forced me to put away my feelings of rejection.

As Spurs charged through the back end of 2011 into early 2012, it was clear that for all the brilliance on display from Rafa Van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, it was some English spirit holding things together.

Bustling across midfield to the sound of “One Scotty Parker,” our former McDonald’s pinup rightfully won many fans and plaudits. Redknapp decreed that he was Dave Mackay incarnate, Stuart Pearce England’s caretaker manager bestowed upon him the captain’s armband, and not even a Mario Balotelli stamp could stop the combative central midfielder.

However, something did. Forces far greater than those he chased around the pitch. His own body caught up with him. Parker had found his place in a club where he belonged too late. As the “gap” vanished and Spurs crumbled so did Parker. He may have featured for England at Euro 2012 that summer, but his race had been run. He was never the same again.

Rotation, tactical naivety and nature caught up with him, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t best his own failing body. Injury and tiredness ravaged him, he would have to learn to rely only on his technique.

When the 2012/13 season began, Parker was absent still nursing the injuries that he had played through at the tail end of 2011/12 and the Euro Championships. Parker missed the start of the season and Spurs witnessed a dawn of a new central midfield partnership. As Tottenham beat Man United 3-2 at Old Trafford, we had had a glimpse of the future and it didn’t feature Parker.

Sandro and Dembele combined everything that exemplified Parker’s game, but they added the dynamism and skill that the Englishman’s game lacked. Both were capable of scoring and creating as well as tracking and tackling, when Parker returned from injury his role was clearly defined. The former Hammer’s role at Spurs became one of back-up only, until of course Spurs played QPR away and Sandro’s knee gave way.

Over the summer we have dissected what happened to Spurs and how they managed to finish once again below Arsenal. Many point to throwing away three points at Liverpool or a insipid display at home to Fulham, but for me it was the day Sandro’s knee abandoned him.

With Parker alongside Dembele the best of our Belgian was lost. Forced to patrol deeper his dribbling skills that had struck fear into opposition holding midfielders and centre-backs disappeared. For the first time in his Spurs career, Dembele became ineffective. Apart from a mazy run and a pile-driver goal away against Lyon, we never saw the Old Trafford Dembele again.

Parker meanwhile found himself further up field than ever before, in areas where as a young man he had excelled, now as a veteran he was out of his depth. Every professional footballer has that moment where his career at the top level officially ends, for Parker it was at home to Basel in the Europa League.

Having gone two goals down, Spurs managed to claw one back, then on the stroke of half time the ball fell to Parker with the Park Lane goal gaping. All he had to do was role it home, instead he contrived to hit the ball against a prostrate Lewis Holtby and saw his effort trickle wide.

It may have been bad luck or an act of an unkind God, but what he couldn’t hide was his complete lack of composure and technique. Two skills that our manager craves from his central midfielders, his career at Spurs has come full circle.

From being a player we were in despearte need of, he is now one we are happy to exist without. Parker leaves us for a club and a level of football where he will undoubtedly excel as he progresses deeper into his twilight years.

I wont let his below par 2013 form spoil the appreciation I had for him in 2011/12, he deserves better than that. I will forever though remain disappointed that he never joined us sooner, perhaps then we would be saying goodbye to a legend, not just a player.

Spurs vs Espanyol: The Promise of More to Come

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

It was a preseason friendly yet the importance of Tottenham’s game against Espanyol at White Hart Lane can not be underestimated. It was three new signings first opportunity to play at the Lane and feel the weight of expectation that belonging to Spurs comes with. At Tottenham we spend most of our lives demanding greatness, yet for two generations we have feasted on mediocrity, are these the players to finally deliver?

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I am not going to insult your intelligence and claim that a 1-1 draw with a mid-table Spanish team is the start of a triumphant reign over England, but the signs are promising. Paulinho and Roberto Soldado our two most expensive ever transfers seemed to have an immediate understanding and camaraderie. They looked for each other, they spoke constantly to one another and seemed to have that natural understanding that two great sportsmen can build instantly.

Soldado who joined up late with the squad due to his participation in the Confederations Cup and another protracted transfer saga, was playing his first game for Spurs in full view. Although relatively small in stature, the Spaniard is deceptively strong and affective with his back to goal. In 60 minutes he managed to link the play with centre-midfield more times than Emmanuel Adebayor managed in 20 plus games last season.

Perhaps the most promising of Soldado’s attributes though is his movement. He is constantly looking for space, darting past defenders to attack the ball and craving the through ball, when he has more minutes under his belt and better service from his team mates, those darting runs will undoubtedly start to produce chances then goals. It was a shame he was unable to register from open play, but without decreeing he is the second coming, he is definitely an infinite improvement on last season striking options.

Further back was Paulinho, a man many of us had not heard of until he helped Brazil to Confederations Cup glory, with some crucial goals and a 3rd Best Player of the Tournament award. The Brazilian looked composed and confident on the ball, his burst from midfield into the opposition area after good pressing from Aaron Lennon shows that he is that “direct” midfielder that AVB has been coveting. Paulinho may not have the metronome grace of Joao Moutinho, the dazzling strength of Mousa Dembele or Sandro’s sheer grit, but he possess enough of all three to make him vitally important to Spurs this season.

Operating wide on Saturday was Nacer Chadli. The Belgian is far from being the next wing wizard, but he looks comfortable on the ball, confident in attacking spaces and without doubt is a step up from the ponderous wing performances exhibited by Clint Dempsey and others at points last season. The former FC Twente man still has areas to improve in, but as most people thought when he signed, he looks like a decent squad addition.

With the new season fast approaching, it was also a massive positive to see the return of two key players, whose physicality and on the field presence was missed during the back end the last campaign.

Younes Kaboul was the stand out defender of Harry Redknapp’s final season at the club. The French man has evolved from the clumsy, naive kid that arrived during Martin Jol’s reign into a international class centre-back. Kaboul posses all the physicality of Michael Dawson, but has the extra skills that AVB craves from his centre backs, composure and ability on the ball. It was great to see him get 45 minutes under his belt, cause a nuisance at attacking set pieces, and drive forwards from the back with the ball.

It’s a cliché, but only because it’s rightly over used: “He will be like a new signing for us.”

Making his comeback alongside Kaboul was the indomitable Sandro the third member of the Spurs squad after Kaboul and Lennon to opt for the skin-head and beard look. It’s too early into his comeback to expect to seem him chopping Espanyol players in half, but the sight of him alongside Dembele again is one full of promise.

Personally the most promising display at White Hart Lane on Saturday was that of Kyle Walker. The 2011/12 Young Player of the Year seemed to have shaken off the doubts and sloppy errors that came to define his 2012/13 game. Offensively good and defensively sound he looked rejuvenated.  He possesses all the attributes expected of a top right back, he just now needs to engage those with his decision making on a regular basis.

Becoming a top class full-back takes time, you have to learn your role and hone your craft, we must remain patient with him, only by making mistakes will he develop into the player he has the potential to become.

Of course there were some negatives to come out of the game. We failed to win another friendly, we are yet to master zonal marking, Danny Rose isn’t the answer at left-back and Jermain Defoe’s remains ineffective unless given acres of space to operate in.

However these are issues the new season will bestow us ample time to ponder. For now we should be satisfied that our record signings deserve their “record” tag, our long term injuries are returning and life will continue to exist regardless of whether Madrid’s Welsh population increases by one or not.