It's been a while since I last wrote (http://www.cartilagefreecaptain.com/2013/1/8/3846944/spurs-formations-and-personnel). 15 league games to be precise. Now, with the end of the season nearing, it would be a good time to follow up on the article and see how right or wrong I was. Like the previous article, I will concentrate on a position-wise analysis. There are a few assumptions I am making: 1. Spurs don't qualify for UCL (sacrilege?) 2. Gareth Bale stays 3. Transfer budget of 30 mn pounds (before outgoing transfers). 4. 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 is the way forward.
With this in mind, let's now look at how we can build a team which can challenge for the league title (but just miss out?) next season itself (a mandatory requirement if Bale is going to stay). For this, we need atleast 7-8 out of the starting 11 of the quality/ability to be starters for teams like Barca, Madrid, ManU (and obviously Bayern). I will follow up this post with another one purely on transfers to rectify problem areas which we discover in this article (and comments).
When I last wrote, I praised AVB for introducing Hugo in the way he did. I also wrote that he must be the 1st choice and Brad Freidel the 2nd choice for the next or so atleast (Brad just doesn't want to retire!). Still holds true. Hugo seems to be tailor made for the high-line tactics. This position is absolutely safe and no tinkering is needed.
If I had written this a month ago, I would have been pitching for a lavish outlay on a new RB but that's just how Kyle Walker is! And after reading Kevin's column, I am more than willing to put my money down on Walker. He has surely improved his defensive abilities, has some serious athletic ability and a very good understanding with Aaron Lennon. Kyle Naughton as the deputy just doesn't cut it though (a deviation from my previous article). However, considering budget constraints and the fact that we have a decent, young and improving first choice, I don't think this is an area to spend on.
Enough quality and quantity here. But finding the right combination is going to be difficult. SuperJan is an obvious choice but he has been prone to a few mistakes recently especially when Daws is absent or BAE has been having a stinker. Let's hope the problem is more the latter. Also we can't predict if next season he'll be able to cut down on the errors or suffer the traditional second season syndrome.
Choosing Jan's partner is more difficult than most think. Do you go with Kaboul and assume that the preseason will be enough to get him into Kaboom mode after a year out? Also will Jan be able to lead like Daws? Will Caulker be the third choice relegating our awesome captain to 4th choice? Or do you relegate Caulker to 4th choice and hamper his development for Daws leadership?
A solution I find suitable is to have different, mutually exclusive CBs for the league and European games.
pros: established firmly this season, Daws leadership
cons: pushing either Kaboul or Caulker to 4th choice
pros: on paper, the best partnership
cons: leadership? the question of whom to relegate to 4th choice
pros: again, an established partnership. looks good on paper too.
cons: do you seriously want to see SuperJan on the bench?
Aah, the big question. Do you keep Disco Benny for his awesomeness and previously decent performances or spend on a defender when there are obviously other problem areas too? Going by his recent performances, BAE is proving to be a big liability. Jan's displays have been affected trying to cover up his mistakes and unlike Walker he doesn't offer the same threat offensively to paper over his defensive cracks. Remember what I said about players having the quality to start for big, established teams? Well, Benny doesn't just fit in. Buying a young, solid, marauding (and left footed) LB is a necessary it seems. The outings in cups and the occasional appearance against the likes of Norwich at home should keep BAE happy. After all, I don't want to see him go. He has got too much love towards the club for that. Having a strong bench is important too.
RM / RW:
This should be Gareth Bale's position. Not on the left, from where he can't realistically unleash his left footed rockets or in the center where doesn't possess the guile needed to operate there. We have seen in recent matches that he can cut in and shoot from the right. He also doesn't mind running to the byline (if his route inside is blocked) and curling in deliciously unorthodox (and accurate) outside-of-the-foot crosses. Obvious options for this position are Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend (yes, now I do rate him).
LM / LW:
This has been a hotly-debated position since Bale moved inside mid-season. Do you play Dempsey or Sigurdsson and reduce the width and offer and extra man in the midfield or well, dunno...... This wouldn't have been such a big issue if Naughton wasn't playing or Benny was playing well. A new left back and Holtby (Sigurdsson 2nd choice) on the left should be ideal. Holtby can offer really interesting options in this role. Being left footed, he can drive to the byline or being a playmaker by trade, provide an extra passing option in the midfield while allowing the LB forward on the overlap. Not playing in the crucial playmaker role would also reduce the responsibility on him allowing him to flourish as we have seen with Siggy (I have to admit, I was very critical of AVB playing him on the left but kudos to him for helping him rediscover some of his form).
CDM / CM / CAM:
Centre midfield. THE biggest problem. I would rate the lack of a passer and a creator bigger problems than the lack of a world class striker. In fact, I'm going to stick my nose out (at the risk of having it cut) and say that Adebayor is world class. He has shown that at ArseAnal, ManCity, Madrid (to an extent) and his first season here. The departaure of Modric and Vdv is what has affected his form the most with more duties being asked of him in the build up play and lesser service provided. Against Chelsea, with Holtby in the hole, he had a great game.
Coming back to the midfield, we have two good pure destroyers in Sandro (1st choice) and Parker (2nd choice). The issue with Parker and the position in general is that now-a-days, CDMs are also expected to be the technically good passers (Busquets, Alonso, Martinez, Gundogan). As much as I would love the extra dimension it adds to the play, budget constraints mean that we must stick with the pure destroyer (the reduced responsibility would also help Parker perform better).
The two midfield slots are no obvious choices either. For this I have made a table listing the qualities of each midfielder we have.
|Defensive reading of game||Metronomic Passer||Hard worker||Dribbler||Creator||Shooter|
As the table shows, we have no shortage of willing runners but that in itself can cause problems with players being caught out of position. For the position of CDM, Sandro is the obvious choice due to his fine reading of the game. Sigurdsson had a great time at Swansea as he had two metronomic passer behind him (Allen and Britton). Huddlestone doesn't bring much to the table. He cant be a passer because of he's way too slow to be in the right position at the right time to recycle possession. And I have checked shooter only on those who can realistically get us more than 10 goals a season if played in the right position.
Carroll would be the obvious choice for the passer from this list but he is a youngster and I fully respect AVB's policy of gradually introducing him. He is two seasons away (one loan, one occasional starter) from being a regular starter. We need someone good here. A good recycler will make the whole team tick along with providing the necessary creative ability the side has been so obviously lacking.
For the role of the purely attacking midfielder, we have Dembele and Sigurddson (Holtby is on the left). Both have an eye for goal along with reasonable but not extraordinary creative abilities. Neither has the movement or appreciation of space that players like Mata, Silva, Valbuena, Kroos or for that matter even Holtby have though. So we probably need someone here too. Then Dembele can be used as an option for the midfield positiosn or even RM / RW where he played so brilliantly in the absence of Lennon.
I am so insistent on spending on midfield because all great teams have great midfielders. They may have weak link elsewhere in the park but never in midfield (and this holds true for teams even before the recent romanticization of the midfield by Barca/Spain). Even currently, ArseAnal have had more dominant performances than Spurs because their midfield has a great balance in the form of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla (tactically sound; energetic, passer, creator; creator, shooter). They just lack a bit of physicality.
ST / CF:
As I have mentioned, I see Adebayor as a good (if not great) striker. Defoe, despite his early season heroics is best suited for the impact sub role. A good midfield will automatically result in better performances from the forwards. We need strengthening in numbers though. I was hoping for Harry Kane to have a hurricane of a season on loan someplace but sadly that wasn't to be. Also after spending in other areas which I deem more important (LB, CM, CAM), not much funds are going to be available for a striker. Let's discover the next Lewandowski instead (remember he was offered to Spurs for 5mn? We have to take our chances here).
Summarizing this rather verbose post, we've to get a left-back and two midfielders (passer, creator). A young striker for the future (and to provide numerical depth) is also necessary.
If you reached the end of this post, thank you for being patient and reading a rather verbose fanpost. Your comments are always highly appreciated. Suggest corrections/transfer ideas etc. and then I'll incorporate them in my next post (exclusively on transfers).