Harry Redknapp’s Dilemma With Tottenham’s Defense
Harry Redknapp has promised more signings in order to strengthen and add more flexibility to the Tottenham squad as they attempt to reclaim their spot in the Champions League next season. In looking at the Tottenham squad they are truly blessed to have so many talented individuals, but one of the most frustrating things is to get results from such a talented group of players. Aside for the need of a new striker, defense is an area of concern for Spurs. As of right now Harry has brought in one new player in Brad Friedel from Aston Villa. However this selection does raise some concerns and possibilities.
Over the years Friedel has proven to be a capable goalkeeper but at 40 years of age, it does leave one wondering. Heurelho Gomes in my view has failed to maintain his number one spot. It is not to say he isn’t a good player. However he has allowed too many routine errors resulting in goals being allowed. Of course the most recent one was against Chelsea on April 30, 2011 where he allowed the ball to slip through his hands and — true he did prevent the ball from going over the line — but the officials didn’t see it that way. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. In addition, his further mistakes against Real Madrid certainly have not helped his situation. Carlo Cudicini in the last few games has demonstrated that he can do the job but he simply hasn’t played very much and so the veteran status of Friedel does have merit. With a two year contract and a good backup in Cudicini, Harry can begin the process of finding a young and talented goalkeeper to bring to Spurs for the future. In addition it appears that Gomes wants to move back to Holland to play so this could just what everyone wanted in the end.
Something needs to be done about the defensive issues with the squad.
In reality they have the talent but it is going to require some serious thinking and hard choices by the management of the club. Michael Dawson has been providing excellent leadership at the back and I can only see him developing into an even better player. William Gallas has provided mixed results in defense. Younes Kaboul, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Vedran Corluka have been providing good results on average. However, I think Alan Hutton deserves another look. For much of his playing this season he has provided some solid defense, passing and goal scoring.
With the return to fitness of Ledley King that should bring good news to Tottenham’s defense. Granted he has been sidelined with injuries but his performance in the last couple of matches has demonstrated his ability to play and with a year on his contract there should be serious thought given to a new one providing he stays fit.
Kyle Walker has really developed into a fine player while on loan with Aston Villa and Harry really should give serious thought about retaining him rather than loaning him out again or even selling him to another club. Walker is developing into a fantastic right back. Development of young defenders should be in the manager’s future plans.
Now, we come to Jonathan Woodgate and probably one of the best center halves in English football recent history. I think Michael Dawson is moving in that direction as well. Woodgate has been plagued with injuries with his spell at Spurs. His last regular match was on November 22, 2009 in the crushing defeat of Wigan 9-1. In that game Woodgate highlighted not only his leadership ability but his ability to provide a solid defense. Despite being left out of the starting 25 at the start of the 2010/2011 he did begin training and played a few reserve matches in January. According to Technical Coordinator Tim Sherwood, it was like he had never been injured. He played the last third of the first AC Milan match in the Champions League and again his performance was outstanding. However, he did pull a muscle and later injured his calf and hasn’t seen any playing since February 2011. Woodgate will be out of contract at the end of this month and the club and Harry have been deciding what to do. There is the idea of a play-for-pay contract because of the injury concerns and to be fair that is understandable. But to let him go with still a few more good years to play would be a serious mistake. Woodgate is a gifted veteran that could offer so much to the club and to the young players entering the squad. A fit Woodgate, Dawson and King can provide exactly what Spurs want and need, an unstoppable defense. If the club let Woodgate go, another club will almost certainly pick him up and Spurs would find that talent being used against them. Spurs need to offer Woodgate a pay-as-you-play contract and with that both parties can benefit from such a deal.