Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Comolli: No left winger (yet)

Sporting Director Damien Comolli has spoken of Tottenham Hotspur’s search for a left winger:

"They (Spurs fans) have wondered why we haven't signed a left-winger but they are difficult to find. Of the teams who reached the last 16 of the World Cup there was only one left-winger. It is not something we should concentrate on. We have enough quality to compensate. It's not so much of a problem and they should not worry."

The interesting bit there is the line “…not so much of a problem”. Meaning it is a problem, but we are going to work around it until we can find a solution. He is right of course about not many teams having left wingers. If you look at Chelsea or the side Arsene Wenger picks each week, neither of them pick a left winger as part of a four man midfield, which Jol uses. Rosicky, Ljunberg or Hleb tend to play wide and are not what you would call wingers, and Chelsea only play Robben as part of a forward three, with three central midfielders behind. The premise being that playing two wingers and two forwards is too attacking – you either play two with one forward, or play three tight central midfielders and one flyer. Which is what Spurs do with Lennon.

Spurs’ problem though is that the guy who plays on the left side of midfield is playing out of position. Whether it is Davids, Murphy or Tainio none of them would choose to play there, or regard it as their best position. What Spurs need to balance Lennon on the right is a left footed midfielder who works hard, can tackle and cross and in an ideal world have a bit of pace. Having a left footed Lennon on that side would be great at home, but away, or against a physical team, Spurs would get overrun. That is why Spurs are struggling to find this player, there are not many around of quality (Reto Ziegler and Johnnie Jackson technically fit the bill, but just are not Premier League players). Gareth Barry would work, and Downing does to an extent but not to the tune of £12m.

Spurs would also prefer not to buy foreign, which further limits the available pool of talent. Comolli said: "We will never do what Arsenal have done. When I discussed with the board last year about coming they told me that the club's philosophy was built on English players and I agreed with them. What we have been trying to do has not changed. We always try to sign British players, the second option is foreign players within the Premiership and the third is looking abroad. But we won't say we won't buy someone because they are foreign as we need to bring in quality players. Martin is right about having an English core. We lost only Michael Carrick in the summer (to Manchester United) but Tom Huddlestone is getting more involved this year as a result. Our policy now is to sign the right players. We are looking for top quality so the quantity will be less."

So don’t expect anything soon, but when we do get new players they are going to be great? Well OK that sounds like a reasonable policy. In the meantime, let’s hope Malbranque fits the bill, or Tainio comes back from injury a player reborn. If not, we may have to go for someone just below top quality, or break the bank on someone who is. Its simple economics Damien: demand high, supply low equals high price. Surely Mr Levy knows that?

The Waddler.