Welcome along to my first blog post, it certainly has been a long time in coming. Seeing as Tim Sherwood described himself as a supply teacher I thought what better way to look back at the performance of the Tottenham Hotspur FC squad for the 2013/2014 season, than in the style of a school report. In many ways the last campaign was one of the most depressing and humiliating I can remember since I started supporting Spurs in 1994. The expectations were so high, despite the sale of Gareth Bale and there was a real sense that this group of player’s could do something special after a promising first season in charge for AVB. Sadly we all know what happened next…
Hugo Lloris – A+: You really do wonder where we would have been last season without the heroics of our eccentric French goalkeeper. In far too many matches it was hard not to feel sorry for Hugo with the chaos going on in front of him. Hopefully FFP can keep him out of PSG’s clutches. Stay (please).
Brad Friedel – B: The consummate professional who was as reliable as ever last season. The veteran American produced some solid displays when called upon. Stay (or become one of the coaching staff).
Kyle Walker – C: It was an inconsistent and injury hit campaign for the young England right back it seems to be a case of two steps forward and then one step back. Walker must improve his positioning, concentration and crossing next term. Stay.
Kyle Naughton – D: Actually improved as the season went on (it would have been hard to get worse, mind you) and when he played in his natural position. It says a lot about Rose’s performances that Naughton wasn’t our weakest link towards the end of the season. Simply not good enough for a team with our ambitions. Go.
Michael Dawson – C: It is difficult to be too critical of a guy who always gives 100% and clearly genuinely cares about the club, which certainly can’t be said for many of his teammates, but his limitations were brutally exploited last season. Whenever he is faced with a striker of genuine class, pace and trickery he looks all at sea. As was the case with AVB you feel Daws will have to prove himself to the new manager. Stay (unless we can get a suitable replacement).
Jan Vertonghen – C-: Easily one of the most talented members of the current playing squad, however, his attitude and performances left a lot to be desired. Looked like he would rather be elsewhere for most of the season. Perhaps de Boer can give him the captaincy and convince him to stick around. Stay (but only if he really wants to!)
Younes Kaboul – C: Seeing the big French centre back playing at all/more regularly was a welcome sight for all Spurs supporters (I feared he was going to become the new Ledley King in terms of injuries). His displays were a bit up and down but if he can keep himself fit and rediscover his form from a couple of years ago we will have a defender that is as as good as any in the division. Stay.
Vlad Chiriches – B+: The media continually slagged off our seven summer signings with the exception of the mercurial Eriksen but they were overlooking the Romanian defender who was very impressive at times. His performance in our second away win on the trot at Old Trafford was outstanding. He’ll certainly be much better for the experience come August. If he continues to develop he could be at the heart of our defence for years to come as long as he cuts out the occasional lapses. Too casual for his own good at times. Stay.
Danny Rose – E: Had such a big chance to be the answer to our problematic left back position after an encouraging loan spell at Sunderland but I think it is safe to say that he blew that opportunity. Defensively he is massively suspect – constantly out of position and has a bad habit of recklessly diving in all the time. Tim Sherwood thought he could become the new Ashley Cole, Daniel Levy would probably still rather get the original on a free transfer this summer. Go!
Zeki Fryers – C: Is a bit rough around the edges but there is certainly the makings of a decent player there. Looked more able at left back than Rose at times, oddly his best performance was probably in a makeshift back four alongside Sandro at centre back away against Benfica. Stay (but he may end up being loaned out).
Aaron Lennon – D-: I’ve always been a great defender and believer in Azza but I think the time has finally come to let the jet-heeled winger move on. He hasn’t got any better since he broke into the team as a teenager. Nowhere near enough goals or assists for someone with his ability. Lennon probably has the worst positional sense of any winger in the Premier League – can’t he just watch a video of Ribery, Robben – or even Raheem Sterling? We might as well cash in on him this summer while he still has a decent market value. He is much more of a team player these days and has upped his work rate immensely but that doesn’t really justify him playing every week. Go (sadly).
Andros Townsend – C: A season of two halves? Up until he got injured against West Ham in December, Andros was the hot new kid on the block (certainly when he wore an England shirt at least). I think most people would concede that his injury against Stoke probably spared his blushes from being omitted from the World Cup squad, although Hodgson is a big fan and owes him one. Premier League defences began to work Townsend out so he will need to get himself fit and look to vary his game more. He has enormous potential and will have learnt a lot in the last twelve months. Stay (dependent on who we sign and the amount of interest in him).
Sandro – B: The Beast is as popular as ever and must have been devastated (like every other decent Brazilian) to have missed out on the greatest sporting event on Earth in his homeland this summer. The Spurs team usually looks better and more solid whenever he plays. As can be said for many of his colleagues, he needs to keep himself fit and get a run of games together. Will be more pleased than most to see the back of Tim. His wonder goal against Man Utd will live long in the memory. Stay.
Paulinho – C+: Such were the expectations after the Confederations Cup many Spurs fans might think I’m being a bit generous with my grade here. It was nice to have a central midfielder who can actually time his runs into the box and look a threat. It’s fair to say he hasn’t always looked completely committed to the cause since Andre left (as demonstrated by the Stewart Downing freekick debacle) but if the new manager can work out where they want him to play and how to get the best out of him, as Scolari has done, then we might get to see the same player that dominates games for Brazil. At present he doesn’t look capable of playing as part of a central midfield two in a 4-4-2 formation. Stay (unless Chelsea want him as part of a deal for Lukaku).
Etienne Capoue – E+: If you’re anything like me you might have been forgiven for thinking that we had signed the new Yaya Toure or (say it quietly) Patrick Vieira, after watching his cameo against Crystal Palace on the opening day of last season. He looked full of energy and capable of controlling the midfield area. Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got as he looked like he was wading through treacle for the rest of the season. If he can shake of the niggling ankle complaints, he most definitely has the physique and technique to thrive in Premier League. Stay (until January at least – but you’d hardly notice if he did go).
Mousa Dembele – C: Mousa is a bit of a conundrum – at his best he is majestic and bullies the opposition into submission, at his worse he looks lumbering and ponderous. Dembele must be allowed to play as a box-to-box player as he never looks entirely comfortable when restricted to a solely defensive midfield role. As Gary Neville will tell you when the Belgian and Sandro were partnered together at the start of the 2012/2013 season they were as good together as any in the league. Needs to produce his best more regularly. Also for a guy with a left foot like a traction engine he should shoot a bit more. Stay.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – C: Like so many members of the squad, last season was a bit of a mixed bag for the Icelander. He started off the season very well when he was swapping positions with Christian Eriksen and was scoring his fair share. His form then tailed off somewhat and he was in and out of the team through injury and team selection. Clearly a gifted footballer but you suspect that Sherwood’s successor may just see him as disposal player given the amount of midfielder’s we have that are similar to Gylfi. I’m sure he’d like to get a run of games in the number 10 position but that doesn’t look like happening. You can bet your life though that if he stay in England he’ll rediscover his Swansea loan form almost immediately. Go (but I’d have no problem with him staying).
Nacer Chadli – C+: The newest of our our Belgian trio, the former FC Twente star played in all manner of roles – he was mildly effective in all of them at times. Certainly not a central midfield player despite being played there at the back end of the season. His physical presence made him a decent outlet when he played on the left wing or in behind the main striker. Highlights of his Spurs career so far, the two goals away against Benfica and his screamer at St.James’ Park. You feel however that he will be remembered most by the White Hart Lane faithful for failing to score against Arsenal after Sczenscy had dropped the ball at his feet. Go (but if he is kept he has shown enough glimpses to be a useful player for us in the future).
Christian Eriksen – A*: The young Dane certainly was a glimmer of light and hope in a campaign that had far too many moments of darkness. How we managed to sign this guy with so little competition (much like Lloris) is an absolute mystery to me. Has the hallmarks of being the new Luka Modric, even though he plays a lot higher up the pitch, in the sense that many of the big teams had a look at him but we were the only ones to take a punt on him. Costing only £11m he has proved to be a real bargain and has already repaid that transfer fee with his vital goals and assists. Whoever, our new ‘Head Coach’ is they will need to build the side around this guy. A real Spurs type of player – he is already idolised by the Spurs fans. Stay (let’s hope to God Real Madrid don’t renew our “special partnership” again).
Nabil Bentaleb – B: The Algerian teenager will in all likelihood scarcely believe the progress he has made in such a short space of time. His debut away at Southampton was as accomplished as I can remember for such a young man. Unfortunately for Nabil he (unfairly) became inextricably linked to the Sherwood-era and suffered as a result. Looked completely out of his depth (unsuprisingly) against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City but there is no shame in that. Stay (but like Kane might benefit from a loan spell elsewhere in the Premier League to continue his development).
Erik Lamela – C-: The less said the better about his first year in England? He’s gone from being a shoe-in for the Argentina World Cup squad and key player for Roma to an international man of mystery in North London. He has been rarely spotted since the start of 2014 and rumours have been aplenty about whether he was actually fit or not. Everything that could go wrong has done so far, surely it can only get better? right? There is a school of thought that his fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino could be the man to get the best out of him, only time will tell. Stay (if only to save face as he’s our record signing. A loan to a Spanish/Italian club won’t help him adapt to English football and will just turn him into the new Giovani Dos Santos). Stay.
Lewis Holtby – C+: If only this likeable young German was a popular with Tottenham manager’s as he is with the Tottenham fans. He is a passionate and able footballer that constantly reminds of a certain Rafa van der Vaart. Lewis demonstrated while on loan at Fulham that he is good enough to compete in the Premier League but with yet another change of management imminent he may fall into the Sigurdsson category of being a bit too much like Eriksen but not as good. Far too talented to be a perennial substitute or squad player. If we won’t play him we should set him free. Stay (I hope rather than expect).
Emmanuel Adebayor – A+: I have slagged off Ade and wanted him to be sold probably more than any other Spurs striker that I can remember but this is because he is one of the most frustrating/infruriating footballers I can think of. On his day he is unstoppable, unplayable whatever way you want to describe it but these days are only when he chooses them. He was fantastic when recalled by Sherwood and it is no exaggeration to say that he saved our season. Stay (but he and the new manager may have other ideas).
Roberto Soldado – C-: See my report for Erik Lamela. How can Spurs sign ‘world class’ players and completely destroy their reputation and credibility so quickly?! At least he can take penalties. Stay (I have faith that if we play to his strengths that he can score lots of goals for us in 2014/2015).
Harry Kane – B+: The new Teddy Sheringham? No, he isn’t but it is hard to argue that he hasn’t made an positive impression in his appearances. It is all the more worrying for Soldado that Kane looked far more lively and threatening than he did at the end of the campaign. It looks likely that we’ll sign another striker this summer but Harry could certainly do a job as an impact sub, especially if Roberto decides to head back to Spain. Stay (but depending on who we sign might benefit from a loan to another Premier League club, as long as he plays regularly).
Bit of a long blog to begin with but I hope you enjoyed it! Follow me on Twitter @CDBaker86.