Tom Huddlestone had some interesting insights on his former employer upon his return to White Hart Lane with Hull City Wednesday night. The midfielder told reporters after the game that the the current Tottenham squad is better than the sides that played under Harry Redknapp.
“I think this team are probably a bit more organized than the good teams I played in here. [Mauricio] Pochettino has got them playing the right way and they have got three or four different systems they can play. It all looks good for the future.”
Huddlestone spent eight years at Spurs. During that time he played in some pretty bad sides (the less said about Ricardo Rocha the better) and a few good ones! That 2011/12 team was probably Redknapp’s best team, and definitely his most aesthetically pleasing side, just FRAAB-ing all over the pitch. So we’re going to compare it player-by-player to Poche’s current XI to decide if Huddlestone is right. As always, these are personal opinions and we’d love to hear yours in the comments.
Brad Friedel vs. Hugo Lloris
Friedel joined the team on a free transfer to replace the error-prone Heurelho Gomes. The then-40-year-old was impeccably consistent if unspectacular. Lloris would eventually replace the American midway through the next season and hasn’t looked back, quickly cementing his place as one of the best goalkeepers in the league, if not the world.
Kyle Walker vs. Kyle Walker
These two guys are remarkably similar (ba-dum). After a year on loan at Aston Villa, 2011 Walker made the right-back spot his own, winning PFA Young Player of the Year and making the PFA Team of the Year. Still, he was known to commit the occasional dumb error. 2016 Walker has largely rid that from his game, growing into a much more complete defender, while still posing a threat as an attacking full-back.
Result: 2016 Walker!
Ledley King vs. Toby Alderweireld
Ledley is a club legend and (when healthy) potentially the most complete defender we’ve ever had. In what would be his final season, he made just 23 appearances (without even training!) but always put in an error-free shift. Alderweireld came in with little fanfare last summer and helped to completely transform a very leaky backline into the stingiest defense in the league. Our form during his extended absence this season shows just how important he is to the team.
Result: Tie! (I could never pick against Ledley, how dare you suggest such a thing)
Younes Kaboul vs. Jan Vertonghen
During his second stint with the club, Kaboul had largely replaced Michael Dawson in the center of defense. He had decent stretches, but never quite developed into the defensive centerpiece we were hoping for. Vertonghen is the less-heralded member of Janby Alderweirtonghen, but is still pretty great. He stepped up in Toby’s absence and led the line admirably for the better part of two months.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto vs. Danny Rose
Disco Benny was a fan favorite, mostly for his choice in transportation, but he was a relatively solid defender. He was fairly unadventurous going forward, but would chip in with the occasional wonder goal. Rose burst onto the scene with a stunning debut goal against Arsenal, but struggled to hold down a place in the team. He was on the verge of leaving multiple times, but has blossomed into one of the better fullbacks in the league, making the PFA Team of the Year last season.
Aaron Lennon vs. Erik Lamela
Azza was extremely fast... and that was about it. He came to Spurs with tons of promise and was a decent contributor for a decade, but it was always a bit disappointing that he never developed the ability to consistently cross or shoot. In the same vein, much was expected of Lamela and it took him a few years to find his feet. The Argentine hasn’t quite lived up to his hefty price tag, but he does lots of little things well, and we’ve definitely missed his tenacity recently.
Scott Parker vs. Eric Dier
Parker looked like yer da playing football, with his schoolboy haircut, shirt tucked in way too high and no-nonsense style. He was fresh off winning the FWA Footballer of the Year and his fancy pirouettes landed him on the PFA Team of the Year. Dier is a more creative defensive midfielder who’s versatile enough to plug into multiple other positions. His hair is really bad though.
Luka Modric vs. Mousa Dembélé
Modric was criminally underrated for much of his time at White Hart Lane. He was the engine that kept the train moving who could also pop up with something incredible (his goal against Bolton is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen). Dembélé also struggled to find his place in the side early on, but has become largely irreplaceable. He is such a uniquely gifted player, we’ve struggled to find an adequate back-up for the past two years.
Gareth Bale vs. Christian Eriksen
Bale wasn’t quite the best-player-in-the-world Gareth Bale we came to know and love, but he was pretty freaking good. He was still playing (at least nominally) on the left of midfield, but was often given the freedom to roam around, meaning he could win a game with a long-range laser or a tearing run. Eriksen has his critics (who are wrong), but is one of the most productive midfielders in the league. He can score an incredible goal out of nothing or whip in an inviting cross for a teammate to hammer home. He’ll almost certainly never reach the heights of our favorite Welshman, but he’s a key piece of our team now and in the future.
Rafael van der Vaart vs. Dele Alli
Ahhhh Rafa. Our time together was far too short. He had a knack for scoring lots of important goals and making them look so effortless. Dele is still young and probably already has a better all-round game than VDV. If he can become a bit more consistent there’s no reason he can’t hit the dizzying heights many expected a young Rafa would.
Result: Van der Vaart!
Emmanuel Adebayor vs. Harry Kane
This is the year Ade actually tried, and shockingly he was good, notching 18 goals and 12 assists. Then we signed him permanently and he went back to being moody. Kane on the other hand, being one of our own, would never give less than 110 percent. I think we understate sometimes how cool it is that such a talented young player feels the way Harry does about this team.
Those Redknapp teams had a few weaknesses, but ultimately had the two most talented players (Modric and Bale) out of either group — players who could (and did) win a game in a moment. The current iteration has far fewer holes and is ultimately better top to bottom. It’s also significantly younger, with most of our best players under the age of 25, and should (hopefully) only continue to improve.