Appearances: 38 (27 EPL, 3 FA Cup, 2 League Cup, 5 UCL, 1 Europa League)
Cards: 1Y, 0R
What went right?
Oh Vinny, I wanted to love you so, so much. Last summer I watched every highlight video I could find, dodgy techno music be damned! And you looked great. A hammer of a left foot, some silky skills and so much passion. You had a great back story. You even had good xG numbers, so my eyes couldn’t possibly be deceiving me. Oh how I long for the Vinny of those mixtapes, because he certainly did not make the move to North London.
The highlights of Janssen’s first season at Spurs are scant. He scored six goals, but just two in the league and only two from open play. He does take a mean penalty with that powerful left boot, scoring all four of his efforts from the spot.
He’s really good at backing his mammoth bum into a defender and posting up like a power forward. He had four assists in all competitions and I count three that came from that situation. That includes the incredibly sexy backheel-through-the-legs against Swansea that kept our title hopes alive. After some time in the doghouse he started to get a few more sub appearances late in the season.
Those are the highlights.
What went wrong?
Pretty much everything else. He made just 12 starts and didn’t score from open play until March.
When Kane went down early in the season (i.e. the exact situation Janssen was purchased for) he was given the starting nod. Spurs went on an awful run in front of goal, scoring just five goals in one particularly painful seven-game stretch. As time passed and he hadn’t scored you could tell his confidence was shot. He gave the ball away far too often and even conceded a penalty against West Ham to really rub it in.
When he was on the bench for FA Cup games against lower league opposition, you knew something was really wrong. If Poch doesn’t trust him to start at home against Wycombe, it’s not looking great.
Even when we thought maybe he’d started figure it out, there was that extremely embarrassing miss against Watford, when he somehow spooned the ball onto the bar from a yard out.
So where did the Janssen of last season go? Is he a slow starter who didn’t have the time to get going? Is he a young man in a new league in a new country who’s just struggling to get to grips with his new life? Is he an average player made to look great by the generally crap Eredivisie defending?
Probably a bit of each, but the last one is most likely. For every Luis Suarez and Ruud van Nistelrooy who go on to light up the Premier League, there’s a Jozy Altidore or Luuk de Jong who can’t quite make the transition.
Perhaps the most worrying part of his struggles is that his finishing wasn’t especially bad. He was struggling to get into position to even get a shot off, which is a red flag.
That’s a pretty big question mark.
He’s overcome adversity before, getting released by Feyenoord and working his way back up to the Eredivisie after a stint in the Dutch second division. Things started off poorly at AZ too before he caught fire in the second half of the season. If given some more time, he has the tools to become an above average Premier League player.
My heart says he sticks it out, gets into amazing shape over the summer, comes back refreshed and starts contributing in a meaningful way. He wouldn’t be the first player who need a year to figure out Poch’s system. He’s obviously not knocking Kane out of the starting lineup, but if he makes 20-ish starts and bags double-figure goals, that would be a huge improvement and a successful season.
But my head says he leaves, either this summer or next. Pre-Poch, maybe he sticks around and figures it out. This Tottenham team is a title contender now. It’s entirely possible that with four of five well-timed goals this season it’s us winning the league and not that lot (sidenote: f*** Chelsea). Poch had to think he’d get those goals out of Janssen and he didn’t.
Spurs don’t really have time for senior players to figure it out right now; it’s “push your chips into the middle of the table” time. So I’d be shocked if we didn’t at least kick the tires on some more established attacking talent this summer.