Cartilage Free Captain is reviewing each of Spurs' first team players and evaluating their season. The series continues today with Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen.
Bad Body Languages: A lot.
Minutes played: 4,145
What went right?
Jan Vertonghen was a consistent presence in Spurs backline this season. Much of the season saw Spurs' back line usually look like "Not a right back, Decent Defender, Vertonghen, Rose" and yet Vertonghen still managed to look comfortable and assured. Sure, it helped that Danny Rose really raised his game this year, but without a consistent partner in the heart of defense, Vertonghen did just as much if not more to marshall the defense and not make us a total horror show. On the ball Vertonghen is still great and his passing and composure on the ball were much-needed under Pochettino.
It's really hard to evaluate how good Vertonghen was this year because so much of what was happening around him was broken. The midfield didn't track runners, the fullbacks were high up the pitch, and his keeper was no longer sweeping outside the box to pick up balls in behind. Vertonghen looked much less good than last year, but he's still clearly our best central defender.
What went wrong?
How many times did we watch Jan dive in on dumb tackles near the halfway line, leaving the rest of the defense high and dry if he missed? I'm going to say the answer is too many times. Perhaps this is a product of Tottenham not really playing with a midfielder shielding the back line, or maybe it's a product of Jan's desire to snuff out attacks and start a counter, but he really did put his teammates in some bad positions with those ill-conceived challenges.
Unlike last summer, it doesn't appear as though other big clubs are circling Vertonghen. Maybe that's just because Barcelona are under a transfer ban; who knows. Regardless, it doesn't seem like Vertonghen is going anywhere, so the next order of business should be for the club to find a consistent partner to pair with the Belgian. Whether that Partner is Eric Dier, Federico Fazio, Kevin Wimmer, or someone else remains to be seen, but Spurs need to figure out their best center back pairing and get them working together early and often. A consistent partner and an improved midfield in front of him would probably have Jan returning to the near-elite levels we expect from him.
Grade: 4 Chirpys