It’s certainly been a busy summer at White Hart Lane this year as Juande Ramos begins to weed out the players he feels are holding Spurs back over the last few weeks and looks to bring in the kind of players he feels can bring more silverware Tottenham’s way. With the exception of Robbie Keane, Ramos has certainly been busy shipping out some of the dead wood and replacing them wholesale. There can be no doubt that come August 16th at Middlesborough, the Tottenham team that walks out at the Riverside will certainly be a team that Ramos has stamped his influence on in every area of the pitch.
Since he joined Spurs in October last year, Ramos has fetched in 9 new players and shipped out 13, trying to concentrate on quality rather than quantity which often seemed to be the key transfer policy at Tottenham since Santini’s ill fated tenure back in 2004. At some points during the last 4 years, it seemed that Spurs were applying to break some kind of recruitment drive record, since chairman Daniel Levy decided to try and pull the Premiership’s perennial under achievers back toward the top end of the table. Tottenham have brought in an amazing 48 players in the last four years and let another 37 leave, incredible figures and one that beggars the question, how on earth did they finish 5th in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, never mind win the Carling Cup last season.
Ramos took over a talented team in free-fall, identified the issues and has so far addressed most of them. A leaky defence has been tightened up with the acquisitions of Alan Hutton, Jonathan Woodgate and Heurelho Gomes replacing Robinson, Chimbonda, Rocha, Dawson and Gardner with Gareth Bale’s return to fitness like another new signing. The midfield has a new look too with the delightful Luka Modric and Giovanni Dos Santos’ flair coupled with David Bentley’s wicked right foot to add quality to a sometimes lightweight area but it is up front that Ramos will have it all to do. The loss of Robbie Keane was unfortunate, but there was no standing in the way of Keane once Liverpool had made contact with the player. The £20 million paycheck will certainly help but Ramos knows he needs a proven top quality striker to support Darren Bent and the continued speculation over Dimitar Berbatov’s future cannot help matters. He knows he definitely needs one striker but he’ll probably need two which doesn’t help matters at all. Bent’s form in preseason has been incredible, hitting 9 goals in the last 10 days and he needs to hit the ground running for Spurs. Last season saw the striker struggle, but Bent seems to have been reborn since Keane’s departure. 2 hours after Keane’s transfer had been announced, Bent was hitting his 4th goal against Norwich City in a 5-1 win, a more timely announcement could not have been better planned by the like-able lad.
The baggage of displacing Keane and the hefty price tag that accompanied him from Charlton seemed to weigh the young lad down last season but he can certainly match Keane’s 23 goals of last season. In his two seasons Bent hit 31 goals in 68 games, almost 1 every 2 games. Add to that the fact that his second season at Charlton saw him often played up front as a lone striker as Charlton struggled all year at the foot of the table and his figures become even better. Ramos knows the lad can be his ace in the pack but he needs some help to get the goals.
In my opinion, Ramos has yet to make a mistake in his acquisitions and he knows that the striker issue is key to Tottenham’s campaign in both Europe and the Premiership. He knows Dos Santos can play up front as well as the left hand side of midfield and Dos Santos himself feels his best position is as a front man, but Ramos will realise if Berbatov gets his transfer, they are very light upfront and need more quality to match his other transfers. He also knows that this team stands on the threshold of maintaining a consistent attempt to break into the sacred land of the Premiership’s top 4 and also push for the UEFA Cup and his next couple of signings will be key.
Spurs need another experienced centre half to support the quality but injury prone duo of King and Woodgate, a defensive midfielder to support Huddlestone and Zokora as well as a top notch striker such as Huntelaar, Arshavin or Pavlyuchenko, yet Ramos will not need anyone tell him what and who is required and I look forward to see just who joins the White Hart Lane revolution next. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a very exciting season for Spurs fans and fans of attacking football in general.