Spurs’ Change For The Better? Or Worse?By: Robert Reed | April 3rd, 2013
Personally, I am of an unshakeable belief that we have a much better manager than we did last season. Whether our results will bear that out remains to be seen, but is our first eleven also an improvement on that of last year?
Here I rate and compare last season’s players with their replacements, and also where applicable compare the contrasting form of the same player. It’s only my opinion, so feel free to air your views in the comments section.
Friedel was great for us last season but let’s face it, after ’sack the juggler’ Gomes anything would be an improvement. It was never any secret though that, now at 41, Brad was a short term option. All credit to Levy & Co therefore for securing the services of one of the world’s top goalkeepers in Hugo Lloris. Some were slightly critical of us investing in a top goalkeeper this early when we still had Friedel in the ranks, but as was evidenced against Swansea being able to swap quality with quality can never be a bad thing.
Hugo may have had a bit of a shock when he didn’t walk straight into the team upon his arrival, but the fact is Friedel was playing well and deserved some respect. It would of course only be a matter of time though until Lloris was our number one and now that time has come he has not disappointed. He is the ideal goalkeeper to compliment the present team, with his ability to come running off his line to (usually) deal with a ball over the top of the advanced defence having observers compare him to a sweeper. His play is reminiscent of Peter Schmeichel in that way and may explain the big Dane’s voicing his admiration on Twitter of the qualities of our goalkeeper.
There has been the odd error, but this is his first season and I expect him to be even better next year.
Ratings (last season/this season)
Friedel – 7 / Lloris – 8
What a difference a year can make. England’s future right back and Young Player Of The Season last year, lacklustre and potentially replaceable in the Spurs team this year. ‘That difficult second album’ is the curse of flash in the pan recording artists; this is definitely a difficult second season for Walker.
Last year young Kyle had a little trouble coupling defensive stability with his attacking play, but that is something which can be taught. This season however his defensive proficiency appears to have gone backwards, and he has also let us down on the attack on too many occasions with his crosssing.
I have a feeling the lad will come through this season’s poor form and improve next term, he should be given that chance at least due to last season’s promise. Another outing like this however could see him in danger of losing his first team spot.
Walker – 8 / Walker – 5.5
Controversial; Mr Ekotto. Say he is rubbish in the pub and people will shout in your face. Say he is brilliant and different people will do the same. I can seldom remember a player who has so polarised opinion among Spurs fans. The fact is though he is neither unfit for the Premier League (which I have heard said) nor is he the best left back in the league (which I’ve also heard said).
In my opinion Ekotto is a decent player but one who has games where he makes crucial mistakes, often leading to a game changing goal for the opposition.
He is proficient at going forward and forged a good partnership with Bale down the left last season, but with Bale’s move to a more central position that plus point to his game has been reduced. I definitely think we can do better than the 29 year old Ekotto at this time, and AVB appears to be of the same mind.
Ekotto – 7 / Ekotto – 5.5
As a club we have something of an embarrassment of riches at centre back I feel, and see no need for recruitment in that area at present.
Kaboul was immense last season and one of the best in the league. He has all the physical attributes you look for in a top centre back and with decent distribution coupled with his storming runs from defence he would surely have been first choice this season if fit.
I must confess that I thought AVB’s willingness to let Michael Dawson leave at the start of the season was the right idea. The manager has admitted that was a mistake, so I’d look pretty silly not doing the same. I honestly thought Boas’ high defensive line would be anathema to Dawson and his traditional English type of game; as it had been for Terry at Chelsea. Strong, good in the air, leader of men etc are fine qualities but mobility was never an attribute I would credit Dawson with and I could see his inability to deal with pace from high upfield as an issue.
What can I say? Unlike Terry, Dawson has adapted his game well and that is probably more down to his attitude than anything. Apart from his unnecessary penchant for wasteful long balls, he has had a good season.
Kaboul – 8 / Dawson 7.5
OK, this is a hard one. King is my favourite ever Spurs player and a club legend who will always be remembered as such. That is why this will pain me a little.
Last season King made the difference in defence as he always did, raising the game of everyone in the back line. Sadly though it was his last season for Spurs and, while not a ’shadow of his former self’, he was not the player we know would have been first choice for England for the previous decade had injury permitted. He was restricted to fifteen league games, but oozed class in every one. At least that’s how I remember it.
Vertonghen? Signing of the season. Honestly, did any one of you know he was this good? He is a rock at centre back, he can pass like a dream and he scores goals. He started brightly, tailed off a bit and is now in outstanding form. He’s a class player and if this is what he is like in his first season I can’t wait for the next.
King – 7.5 / Vertonghen – 8.5
There has been a tendency to underestimate Aaron’s importance to the team and, although I think AVB’s handling of the situation didn’t help, Lennon’s absence in recent games has shown how important he is to our style of play. He may not be our best player but he was a vital component last year and is continuing to be this year. Overall his form this season has been better than the last.
Lennon – 7 / Lennon 7.5
Scott Parker last season was the type of player we had been missing for years at Spurs; a decent midfield tackler to break up play. With his arrival the soft underbelly of our midfield was gone and he was the platform for the attacking play we exhibited.
This year we have had Sandro. Again, the type of selfless defensive midfielder vital to any team but it soon became clear this season that Sandro was a class above Parker. In terms of discipline, passing, awareness and general ability the Brazilian was proving to be one of the best in Europe in the holding midfielder role. Parker has filled in for him since his injury but that has only served to emphasise the gap in class between the two players.
Parker – 7.5 / Sandro – 8.5
In the light of his nightmare season in Spain, some Spurs fans would have you believe that they always knew Modric was crap and not worth anything like the fee we sold him for. Although upon reflection £33m was steep, the fact is we’d have all rather kept the player if we could. Modric was the catalyst of the majority of the attacking moves during his time at Spurs an he was brilliant for us last season. He didn’t score enough goals and, although able to handle the rigours of the Premiership, wasn’t much of a danger in the tackle but he remained one of our most important players.
Dembele has been something of a revelation to me this season. I knew he was a creative player and a dribbler who could ghost past people but I didn’t realise how strong he was. Opposition players bounce off him and he is an accomplished tackler also. He can pass, score, get forward effectively or stay back and defend equally well. Due to his having a lot more to his game I believe he has proven a worthy replacement for Modric, leaving our midfield not quite as creative but definitely more solid.
Modric – 8/ Dembele – 8
Van der Vaart/Sigurdsson
Rafa was another player who divided opinion, but not even his detractors would deny he was class. the Dutchman had a reputation which made opposition defences nervous before a ball was kicked, and he was certainly good box office. He scored goals and could unlock defences, but had little discipline regarding team formation and was a liability if played anywhere other than in the hole. It was pretty much necessary to build the team around him in that position, but it could be argued that he was good enough to make that worthwhile.
Sigurdsson didn’t impress anyone before Christmas, and many questioned the wisdom of turning down £10m from Reading for him in January. In recent games however, and with a run in the team, he has started to show his worth and looks like he could become a useful player for us.
Van der Vaart – 8 / Sigurdsson – 7
‘A unique and frightening player’ is how none other than Zinedine Zidane has described Bale recently. Gareth has everything to his game except maybe notable agility; you won’t see him scoring any overhead kicks, but apart from that there appears to be no real weakness in his skill set. He was great last season, but the rate of his improvement since then can be measured by saying that if he were to improve by the same amount next season, he’d be pretty much the best player in the world.
Bale – 8 / Bale – 9.5
Emmanuel Adebayor’s traditional honeymoon period last season saw a great effort from the player. He was the powerful attacking focus of the team and made everything tick in that respect, holding the ball up and bringing others into the game. He scored seventeen league goals and was a major loss when unavailable; we weren’t the same team.
Jermain Defoe this season has been Jermain Defoe; you know exactly what that means. He has had a period of the season where he has been a free scoring menace to opposition defences, as well as a long goalless period where his selfishness and inadequate team play has been detrimental to the team’s attack.
Adebayor – 8 / Defoe – 6.5
Having added up the totals, the result is 84 for last season’s team and 82 for this season.
On the whole I feel we’ve not adequately replaced the class we lost in the summer, but that’s not the whole story. Sigurdsson nor Dempsey are a match for VDV, but the collapse in form of our full backs and strikers has been alarming.
That said, I actually believe we are a more effective unit this year; even with a slightly inferior squad. I did say we had a better manager!
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