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saoirse1986

Aspiring journalist. Tottenham Fan. Legend.

Aug 222011
 

By John Toner

After a day of social unrest disrupted Tottenham’s opening day game at home to Everton, they face the rather more difficult task of going away to champions Manchester United.

Only time will tell if the late start to Tottenham’s season will have a positive or negative effect. On one hand the extra few days of rest might be beneficial to the players’ fitness; but then on the other, playing catch up from the off is never ideal and could have an impact on morale if things don’t go quite to plan early on.

United started their season as scheduled and as expected by seeing off West Brom 2-1 at the Hawthorns. Strengthened by the acquisitions of Ashley Young and Phil Jones, they look to be starting much as they left off at the end of last season; although there are questions being asked about the ability of new goalkeeper David De Gea.

The champions do however have a number of injuries to key players which will be of some concern to Sir Alex Ferguson. Nemanja Vidic had to be withdrawn from the victory over West Brom with a calf injury and could be out for another three to four weeks. Also substituted due to injury in that match was Rio Ferdinand who suffered a hamstring problem, he should return by the end of August but Monday night’s game comes too quickly for him to feature. United are also without Rafael Pareira Da Silva (shoulder), Darren Fletcher (illness), Javier Hernandez (concussion) and Luis Antonio Valencia (ankle) with Michael Owen also a doubt.

Spurs have a similar amount of injuries with midfielder Sandro sidelined after a knee operation and Steven Pienaar unavailable for at least a month after having groin surgery following an injury in pre-season. Also doubtful for the game are William Gallas (calf), Jermaine Jenas (achilles), Ledley King (knee) Luka Modric (groin) and Wilson Palacios (knee).

Tottenham have a miserable record against United in recent years, their last victory over Ferguson’s side was way back in 2001 and the last time they won at Old Trafford was 22 years ago. As opening games to a Premier League season go, Spurs especially, could not have ended up with a harder one. Although they will be buoyed by putting five past Hearts in midweek at Tynecastle this is an altogether more challenging prospect.

After a good start United will want to push on and get their title defence well and truly underway. Considering Tottenham’s dismal record against them, especially at Old Trafford, they will very much fancy their chances of getting the three points.

However, Ferguson will be very wary of Spurs’ Attacking threat especially having been deprived of both first choice centre halves. Redknapp will need to capitalise on that weakened defence if his side are going to come away from greater Manchester with anything.

United and Spurs usually provide an entertaining show, recently with added controversy; that combined with both sides being somewhat weakened and the unpredictability of early season fixtures, we should be in for a cracking game.

Toner’s Prediction: Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Follow me on Twitter @johnedwardtoner

Aug 022011
 

We are now at the end of July and it is exactly 31 days until the end of the transfer window. Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and even Arsenal have strengthened their squads in key positions.

United have bought a winger, a centre half and a goalkeeper. Liverpool have bought a winger and a central midfielder. Manchester City have bought one of the worlds best players (again) and will probably buy another entire squad before the window closes just for the craic. Even notorious non-spenders Arsenal have bought a striker.

In the midst of all this Tottenham have signed a teenage striker (albeit a highly rated one) when it is clear that our squad needs more extensive strengthening and bloodletting.

For a start there is a considerable amount of deadwood that needs to be either cleared from the ranks or turned around. This group consists of David Bentley, Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Jenas, Ben Alnwick and Bongani Khumalo. In my less-than-humble opinion I would sell them all except Dos Santos who I believe still has something to offer, he’s young, quick and has bags of technique. He just needs to get more first team opportunities.

Then there is the necessary strengthening. We need another centre half. Ledley King and William Gallas cannot be relied upon for an entire season meaning we essentially have two centre halves (Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong) and two half-centre halves. We also need a striker. We have three strikers in our first team squad but not one of them is a stand-out 20-25 goal a season striker. I think we should allow Roman Pavlyuchenko or Peter Crouch to move on and use the money to put towards a world class replacement.

I’m guessing here but I figure most Spurs fans would agree with the changes I’ve outlined above and must therefore conclude that Daniel Levy recognises the necessary changes. So why in the name of Great Oden’s Raven has he not done anything about it!?

I can only assume it’s because he’s doing what he always does. Playing the waiting game, looking for that last minute deal to get the best value player or get the best price for a squad member. It’s a tactic that has it’s advantages and Levy is very good at it. However it’s a risky business and I can’t escape the feeling that come midnight on August 31st we are going to have the same squad we do now (minus Luka Modric) and be a long way behind our competitors.

Jul 182011
 

Another summer, another high profile Spurs player wants out and has well and truly jettisoned the toys from the pram as a result of the chairman’s refusal. It happened with Dimitar Berbatov and it’s now happening with Luka Modric. As a Spurs fan it feels as if it’s become a depressing recurrence however there is, as always, a silver lining.

Modric wants to go to a ‘bigger club’ in order to further his career which is a perfectly understandable aspiration. Unfortunately he, as Berbatov did before him, has conducted himself in a fantastically unprofessional and undignified manner. Telling the press Levy ‘threatened’ him with sitting in the stands and that he’s gone back on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ poor little Luka, everybody feel sorry for him. It’s a little naive as nothing is definite, Chelsea may not come up with a sufficient bid to pierce Daniel Levy’s resolve and the player may have to tuck his tail firmly between his legs. The more likely outcome however is that Chelsea or another suitor make a large enough bid and off the little Croatian goes, this is where the silver lining comes in. Modric goes and is replaced.

The old cliche that no player is bigger than the team or club is very true in this instance, as good as Modric is he isn’t irreplaceable and when a player’s heart isn’t in it, he’s not worth keeping. Levy must avoid making the same mistake he made with the sale of Berbatov, yes we got a very handsome fee of around £30m but we got it at the death of the transfer window. As a result, we were unable to replace him and were light up front the following season (Manchester United sent us the extraordinarily average Fraizer Campbell on loan as part of the deal which frankly I found insulting). If Modric is to be sold it has to be at least a fortnight before the transfer window closes so we can find an adequate replacement.

What constitutes an adequate replacement for Modric is highly debatable but there are certain requisites: must be about the same age, must be a very good passer of the ball.

In my humble opinion I believe Riccardo Montolivo to be a perfect replacement. He’s 26 years of age, a very talented passer of the ball and is widely thought to be open to moving on from Fiorentina. Also he looks a bit like Luka so we might not even notice he’s gone! Hypocrisy I hear you cry. Not quite. A large proportion of the fans want him out as they feel he has gone back on his commitment to the club by not signing a new contract, with sections of them urging him to remove his captain’s armband during the end-of-season game against Brescia. Conversely you would be hard pressed to find many Spurs fans that ‘want’ to lose Modric. Whether or not he would want to come to Tottenham is another speculative point especially as he recently attracted praise from AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri who said “[Montolivo] is one for the big stages, one of the best Italian midfielders blessed with great skills and athleticism” Although Spurs are an ambitious club in a healthy financial state so have a fair chance of luring him to London

A fee of around £35m may tempt Levy into selling Modric and about half to two thirds of that may be sufficient for La Viola to sell. A replacement, profit and a player who wants to play would be a very nice conclusion to the whole sorry affair.