Fitting the links

05Aug10

As pre-season comes to an end and with just over a week before the new premier league season kicks off it is a great to surprise to many, fans and the media alike that Spurs have, so far, bought no one this summer. Of course Internacional U-21 Brazilian midfielder Sandro is on his way but we have known this for a while so whats been happening?

Some of the players linked to Spurs this summer have been, for want of a better word, undesirable. As squad players they would be good but the star player that Spurs are perhaps looking for has not yet revealed himself with links to Fabiano and Huntelaar falling by the wayside so let’s have a look at who Spurs have been linked with and where and how potentially Spurs could setup this season because I think this answers the question as to why we may be going for certain players.

Craig Bellamy, the 31 year old striker at Man City, despite his age still has his pace and could be available for a cut down price between £4-6m but why would Spurs go for Bellamy when they have a reasonable quartet of strikers already on their books? For a start the pace of Bellamy is something the Spurs forward line lacks but also Bellamy’s ability to play from the left as an inside forward is very appealing and could answer another question – what to do with Giovani Dos Santos.

Forgetting the obvious 4 at the back situation a brief synopsis on the 4-2-3-1 is as follows. The 2 central midfield players have to create a staggered line of defense so that the defensive area can link with the attacking area, depending on the players this is somewhat of a blur but the basic premise is these players are deep and can control the tempo of the game, the practicality of having Modric and Huddlestone playing these roles is not what I want to draw attention to right now (maybe a future blog post) but I picked those two due to their successful end of season partnership especially when up against superior opposition who put them under alot of pressure with both players able to play the ball and Modrics’ excellent ball retention to relieve pressure from the back line.

In front of the central pairing are the attacking quartet. It is important to keep width in a game and with Lennon on the right he can hug the touchline to pull players towards him. The pace of Bellamy is massive asset and when on form he is unstoppable. At Man City it is interesting to note that they play with two inverted wingers which, imo, is part of the problem they have in their setup, causing all play to come inwards to the central area. While the idea seems fine as the centre is the most dangerous area of the pitch it is also the most packed area because of this threat and the most space to exploit and play is found out on the flanks and can explain the effectiveness or lack of in some games of Bellamy on the left side.

The ‘in the hole’ role was recently played by Dos Santos for Spurs against Benfica and he excelled in that position in a 4-4-1-1 setup, also the reason I have put Crouch up top on his own in the diagram above. In the Benfica game, Giovanis’ movement was good and he carried the ball extremely well, sometimes finding himself on the shoulder of the Benfica defense, sometimes with plenty of room in front of them to pick a pass or carry the ball even further into their half and of course . A lot has been said of Modrics’ scoring ability or lack of; an alternative in that position is needed especially with Modric excelling right in the heart of the midfield and it could explain why Redknapp was interested in Joe Cole and, according to the media, interested in the German sensation of the world cup, Mesut Ozil.

The only current confirmed link of interest is Scott Parker, an all out tenacious midfielder, similar to Palacios and West Ham’s star player last season. Here is a side by side comparison of the two:

Palacios

126 tackles attempted, 71 interceptions and a 77.6% tackle success rate

1346 passes attempted, 84.2% complete with 1 assist

Parker

100 tackles attempted, 74 interceptions and a 72% tackle success rate
1511 passes attempted, 82.8% complete with 3 assists

There seems to not be much between them but there is also the factor that Spurs do not have a backup with the tenacity of Palacios and it can be argued the most is not made of his mobility. Several times last season Redknapp alluded to a a lack of central midfielders. On the books at Spurs as central midfield players we have Modric, Huddlestone, Palacios, Sandro, Jenas and O’Hara with the last two possibly being let go this summer. If Spurs were to play another variation of a 5 man midfield we may have something like this:

With Huddlestone acting as a deep lying play maker, similar to the role Pirlo plays for AC Milan or Alonso for Spain and Real Madrid, in front of a back 4 they are creating a defensive triangle that pushes incoming attacks out to the wings where they are less dangerous. In front of Huddlestone is the craft, guile and attacking instinct of Modric and Palacios playing in a similar role to Essien at Chelsea under Mourinho, getting forward and back, while pressing all over the pitch. Playing with 3 central midfielders is going to pose a problem squad wise as the depth is not currently there. Jenas could play the box to box role but his inconsistency lets him down, while that one in eight game Jenas is a 9/10 Palacios is a consistent 7 (if not better) and ever reliable there is also no one able to play in the screening role of which a player like Parker would be perfect for.

To summarise and perhaps second guess Redknapp he is looking for the 2-3 players he needs to play a 5 man midfield. He has suggested in various interviews that you need to be able to control the game in Europe and Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken alot about the 5 man midfield being important to control games, especially against the top teams. Spurs strength lies in its midfield and especially the flanks; it’s the make up and depth of the central players that will show if Spurs have what it takes to perform this season.

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4 Responses to “Fitting the links”

  1. Wow, this is excellent analysis. You could well be onto something. Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 Simmo

    Do you know what palacios means in Spanish?

    ‘Bull in a china shop’

    Nuff said

  3. 3 Mongoose

    (\_/)
    (-o-)
    (___)>

    Badger is not impressed.

  4. Interesting. Good read. Tnx!


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