Sandro: Is This The Best It Gets?

Does the blue-haired one have a role in the first team? Should he?

Like some kind of nagging funsponge of a coddling parent on this board, I'd like to take this opportunity to once again attempt to point out that all the good things Tottenham Hotspur have been enjoying in recent months might have a couple of negative consequences in the near future. In this particular instance, this proverbial post-treat-binge bellyache relates to our squad's forgotten man, Sandro Ranieri. He turned in a number of vital, game-defining performances last season against such distinguished opposition as AC Milan and Liverpool, but with the emergence of Scott Parker as a key player, many of his former advocates now seem content to describe Sandro as little more than an impact substitute, coming off the bench at the end of tough Premier League matches to help ensure the result goes our way.

To me, this poses a serious problem, as Sandro arguably at a critical stage of his development where he requires regular first team action, not just appearances in the last 10 minutes of every match to bring some steel to the midfield. Subsequently, a way of fitting him into the side more regularly and prolifically needs, in my opinion, to be found soon.

In trying to unpick this issue, two important points have to be addressed. First of all, Sandro and Parker do not play the same role. Whereas the former is broadly an anchor man, sitting deep and covering for the back four, Parker is arguably much more of a box-to-box midfielder, as comfortable at launching attacks as he is at claiming the ball in the middle of the park. This difference stems from the two player's very distinct skill sets - Sandro is fantastic at presenting an impenetrable wall for attackers, while as Brian Mechanick has demonstrated elsewhere, Parker is better at precision passing as well as forward movement.

A second and more contentious point is that Luka Modric is not as totally non-expendable as the £40 million price tag slapped on him by Daniel Levy this summer would lead you to think. Though it is true that he brings almost unparalleled creativity to the side, on those notable days where Rafael van der Vaart is fully fit, Redknapp can be safe in the knowledge that his squad will have someone fulfilling the playmaker function, and thus that Luka can from time to time sit one or two games out. By comparison, I genuinely believe that at the moment, I'd be more anxious to see us without the tenacity and passion that Parker has brought us since he signed.

Bringing all these threads together, I would like to argue that the best way to ensure that Sandro gets to play the role he deserves in the Spurs side would be to rotate him occasionally with Modric. This would see him playing an out and out defensive role beside Scott Parker, who could play the box-to-box part while Rafa pulls the strings sitting in the role in front of them. This wouldn't have to be a long-term arrangement; just an occasional setup, maybe against weaker sides so that Mod wouldn't feel left out of the defining parts of our season, which would allow Sandro to spend a little more time playing 90 minutes in the Premier League. It's arguably the only way of ensuring that Sandro stays ticking over in his progression into a vital player without needlessly forcing out that gallant RAF veteran-alike who has been in my opinion the most instrumental player in preventing us from dropping silly points so far this season. Creativity, tenacity, and rearguard action - surely that's the dream?

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