Thursday, December 21, 2006

Comolli’s January To-Do List

In just over ten days time the January transfer window will open, sparking a rush of transfers all across Europe. As Daniel Levy pointed out in his recent Chairman’s statement, THFC have been one of Europe’s most active clubs in the last two years, so should we expect the same level of activity this time around? Here The Waddler takes a look at what realistically needs to be done to the squad, whilst keeping in mind Spurs’ finances, attraction to players and likelihood of players moving clubs.

IN: A Centre Back to act as cover for Ledley or Dawson. Curtis Davis at West Brom has been mentioned a number of times and looks like a sensible option if available for the right price. Davenport and Gardner are simply not in the same class as King or Dawson, and whenever either is not available, we suffer. King also has long standing injuries that may bring his career to an early close, and quality cover needs to be brought in sooner rather than later. A little competition in that area wouldn’t hurt either.

OUT: Davenport and/or Gardner. Don’t need them if a replacement is bought, neither are good enough. Good bargaining chips in a negotiation for someone better.

IN: A left winger/midfielder. The perennial target, and one that has been needed during the last two or three transfer windows at least. Downing would be OK if Boro are sensible about the price, he’s English, has a nice cross on him, takes corners etc. Nothing special, nothing exciting, but would be good for the squad. Ideally, we’d go and buy Robben at Chelsea but it’s simply not realistic. There are European versions out there as well, and hopefully Comolli knows of one or two.

OUT: Murphy, Davids. Too old, too slow. The game seems to pass both of them by and neither are used to playing bit part roles, and neither make good substitutes. They aren’t going to start anymore, and must cost a fortune in wages so why have them in the squad?

IN: More decent youngsters. Not everyone comes off, for every Dawson there’s a Reid, for every Lennon there’s a Routledge. Its quantity and potential when it comes to youngsters and Spurs should continue to snap them up. It’s the only way we’ll compete with Chelsea’s millions – by buying the players before they get really good. Giles Barnes at Derby, Gareth Bale at Southampton both fit the bill and should be snapped up early. Comolli looks to have signed Abel Taarabt from Lens already if stories are to be believed, and hopefully the window won’t pass without another couple coming in. The outlays tend to be small, with most of the cost wrapped up into how many games they play, and how many caps they get.

Aside from the above it should be a case of shopping in a opportunistic manner. If for example a good young right back becomes available, buy him and ship out Stalteri. If he doesn’t, hold on until the summer. Anderlecht’s Van den Borre was linked last week, and he has an impressive reputation already and could be ideal. If a good keeper is available, get him in and dispense with Cerny. Robinson needs some competition to ensure he doesn’t become complacent. Cerny seems to be here as purely cover. What’s wrong with someone pushing Robbo for the number one spot? Ben Alnwick at Sunderland has been strongly linked and is a good up and coming youngster so he could be the one.

So a centre back and a left winger should be at the top of Comolli’s to-do list, and preferably underlined with little stars by them. Once they’ve been sorted out some deadwood can be shifted and then some good youngsters and the odd squad upgrade should be sought. The squad is very close to being one of the best in the league and above all trading should be kept to a minimum. Too much upheaval, and too many new first team players can cause issues in terms of stability. After each of the last four windows Spurs have had themselves half a new team, and as a result suffered from needing time for the team to gel. Bar the left wing option any changes now are to the squad players, so should have a minimal impact.

Once again it will be an interesting month, and Spurs will be linked to every man and his dog but this time, hopefully, we can bargain from a position of strength, knowing that for the most part the team is sorted, and that we just need to make a couple of adjustments to the squad here and there.

The Waddler.