Strike A Striker Deal, DanielBy: Robert Reed | January 28th, 2013
Whilst watching the cup defeat to Leeds at the weekend, a fact suddenly occurred to me which none of you appear to have picked up on; we could really do with signing a striker before this transfer window closes. Inspired, I know.
‘But,’ I hear the slightly more theatrical of you cry; ’twas ever thus,’ and you have right on your side. Every transfer window we are lamenting the failure to sign a real top forward to cement us in the Champions League places; and why is that? BECAUSE WE NEVER SIGN ONE!
Didn’t we used to be all about the strikers? The rest of the team would be a shambles but we would often be the envy of many opposition fans in the centre forward department. Sheringham would be injured for a few games and the team would perform abysmally, but we were all certain that it would change once we got our Teddy back. That’s the kind of, often misguided, confidence you get from having a class act up front.
Gary Lineker, Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen (son of a German baker!) Klinsmann, Les Ferdinand, Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov….
Dimi left five years ago, and we have patiently (or not so patiently) put up with mediocrity ever since.
Don’t anybody mention Adebayor, please. He did OK as a loan signing, but the world and his wife knew that wouldn’t last. Signing him this season was another cheap skate option, and the wrong option.
Defoe? During his career I’ve heard him described on numerous occasions as an ‘arch poacher’ or a ‘fox in the box’. How did he get to have that kind of reputation? I’m beginning to think he must be really good at killing pheasants because the guy has never scored 20 league goals at any club in his entire career. Who else creased up when AVB compared him to Falcao earlier in the season? Even Harry couldn’t have coined that one with a straight face, and he once compared Thud to Glenn Hoddle!
What the game at the weekend showed was that Dempsey is no centre forward. He can score the odd goal, but he doesn’t know how to perform the role and to the detriment of the entire team. Time and again our midfield would look to make a forward pass, see that old Clint had once again failed to make a run and then either pass it sideways or get caught in possession. Even Huddlestone, who is certainly a guy who likes a forward pass.
I can see why we bought Dempsey. He was cheap (who’d have thought!), has a good attitude and an impressive scoring record from midfield. He strikes me as a handy utility player to have in the squad. What I don’t understand is the apparent decision to swap Rafael van der Vaart for Sigurdsson. Siggy wasn’t particularly cheap at £8 million, and is very clearly a Happy Shopper version of VDV.
When AVB came in with his rumoured liking for 4-3-3, the manager had to be allowed to decide Rafa’s face didn’t fit in his formation. I could even agree, rightly or wrongly.
What we have now though is 4-2-3-1 with a guy floating behind the forward. In that role Rafa oozed class; he unlocked defences, created chances and scored goals. Plus opposition teams were afraid of him. Where we could have had a bit of magic and a slice of the unpredictable we now have a workmanlike presence and a clunky chunk of the very predictable. I despair.
But, what’s done is done and we are where we are. Where we are however, is potentially at a crossroads.
In one direction we sign a striker who is better than those we have, expensive but not ludicrously so (I could make suggestions but that’s what the comments are for), which sees us finish fourth or conceivably even third and achieve Champions League qualification. In the other direction we decide to either buy no striker, or this season’s version of Louis Saha, and quite possibly finish fifth.
Ignore the third direction, there is nothing that way. Actually let’s just say we are at a T junction.
I am not being overly dramatic here. If past evidence is anything to go by Defoe has probably had his good phase of the season and will now nuzzle comfortably into his crappy phase. Either that or go under the knife at some point leaving us with two options; Dempsey or Adebayor.
As I said before, on Sunday’s evidence Dempsey is no forward. So that would leave us all praying that Adebayor doesn’t get injured, or fall out with the manager, or fall out with his teammates, or fall out with the fans, or fall into any of his other numerous pitfalls which includes him just failing to score more often than not.
We know we need a forward, and in spite of what he says AVB knows we need a forward. He can’t say, ‘Yeah I want to buy a striker but Levy’s just being a dick about it.’ George Graham did that in a round about way and his feet didn’t touch the floor.
If we fail to get fourth again this year then Bale is gone next season; the big players we could go for in the summer won’t want to come, and the club will just start to stagnate. Not buying is a false economy for Levy, he’ll be losing money in the long run. Everybody by now has heard the maxim ‘Speculate to accumulate.’ Surely Levy has, hasn’t he?
I’ve stood up for our chairman countless times before now, but even I must concede that his intransigence now has the potential to stifle the growth of the club. It needn’t be that way though, and he can make us all love him. All he has to do is give us a Teddy.
Follow me on Twitter (not compulsory) @RobertReedUK
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