One of the pressing concerns for Tottenham Hotspur is the need for quality, reliable and consistent strikers. During the 2010-2011 season the forwards for Spurs were Roman Pavlyuchenko, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane, who collectively failed to provide the necessary goals for the club. Instead the club relied on individuals such as Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon to produce the goals for the club. Basically the midfield was doing the leg work for the team in scoring goals and the odd goals provided from the defense. So, if your objective is to remain competitive with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal — and fight for a place in the Champions League — the need for consistent goal scorers is critical.
When looking at Tottenham’s strikers, the question to ask is what happened? In the past they have had very reliable forwards but during 2010-2011 it wasn’t case. The buzz around White Hart Lane is regarding who Harry Redknapp is going to bring in and who will be on their way out.
It is very fair to say that Giovani dos Santos will be on his way out. Since his arrival he hasn’t made an impact and being sent on loan to other clubs would strongly suggest the club would like to unload him onto someone else.
Robbie Keane is an odd case. Before being sold to Liverpool, he was a very successful goal scorer for the club. His partnership with Dimitar Berbatov was especially productive. But ever since his return from Liverpool in February 2009 he hasn’t been the same and hasn’t been able to return to his old form of being a successful goal scorer. In looking at the remaining 2008-2009 season, Keane started 14 matches and only had 5 goals. During the 2009-2010 Keane made 20 starts with 6 goals. Mid season he went on loan to Celtic and surprised many in how well he did with 16 starts and 12 goals. In the pre season leading up to the 2010-2011 season, he looked promising but unfortunately failed to deliver. At the start of 2010-2011, Keane made 7 starts and 0 goals and then went on loan to West Ham and really didn’t have much luck there either. On international duty Keane has done well for Ireland so one has to wonder and think that Spurs is no longer a good fit for him and he just hasn’t been able to form a successful partnership on the pitch with the other strikers as he has done in the past. It would seem that Keane will be on his way out and will make way for a new individual. I still think Keane has a lot to offer and is a very capable forward but just not at Tottenham, which will be sad since he was among my favorite players at the club.
Much of Roman Pavlyuchenko’s career at Spurs has been a mixed one of wanting to leave, then wanting to stay and a lack of playing time according to him. What I see with Pavlyuchenko is really a lack of being a consistent player. Yes, he was the top goal scorer among the Spurs forwards with 10 goals from 29 matches last season. In the last match against Birmingham he looked good but that is the problem with him, he shines and then the light goes out and you’re left wondering what is going on with him. But then again he scored a hat trick playing with Russia in their last Euro 2012 qualifying match. So what do you do with him? In the past I have said ‘get rid of him’ but then I think well maybe with the right strike partner and with the right motivation he could improve. However, I think the jury is still out but unless something changes soon for him, I think he will be on his way out. I really think he is one of those puzzling players because he does have potential.
Peter Crouch has been another disappointment as well and more so than Pavlyuchenko. Crouch scored only 4 goals in 29 matches last season, which wasn’t very inspiring. On the plus side his height has been and can be a great asset if used properly. I think he can score goals and if they plan on keeping him they really need to demand much more from him, if he is to justify his role at the club. I think if I was Harry I would be thinking about selling him to another club. I just really haven’t seen that much commitment or improvement in Crouch.
Jermain Defoe has to be the great disappointment of the season with only 4 goals in 22 starts. In the 2009-2010 season Defoe scored 22 goals. So what went wrong with last season? To be fair he was injured in the early part of the season and that can have an impact on any player. When he returned he just didn’t seem the same. Of all the strikers he may be the one to stay. I still think he has lot ability but he needs to change his way of thinking and push himself harder to get back into the form that has made him so successful in the past. I think overall his record is the best out of the group but you can’t whine about not getting first time playing if you are not demonstrating that on the field. I think if I was Harry I would keep Defoe.
Spurs have, with the arrival of Rafael van der Vaart, moved away from having two strikers up front with just one forward with Rafael van der Vaart as a withdrawn striker. Perhaps this is the problem for the Tottenham forwards not really adjusting. So, if Rafael is to stay which seems very likely it may be important to find an individual or individuals that work well under this format. However, Harry did play a 4-4-2 formation in the second match against Arsenal and I thought the team played very well and Rafael van der Vaart did play in that formation and performed well. The game ended 3-3 but the edge should have been given to Spurs. Experimentation is a good thing, something that should not be shied away from and I think the coaching staff should experiment more with the players.
So who to bring into the squad? Well there is a lot of talk about that. Here are five individuals to have a good look at.
- Since the arrival of Torres to Chelsea and the preference of the ownership to play him, Didier Drogba could be a nice addition to the Spurs lineup. An experienced striker could be what Spurs really need at the moment. He scored 11 goals in the 2010-2011 season and during the previous season had 29 goals. One drawback could be his age, 33, and so he may not have many years left to play but an experienced player from a successful club could be a very useful asset to the team.
- The next individual is Dimitar Berbatov, who seems to have fallen out of favor with Manchester United. Berbatov having played for Spurs in the past could make an easy adjustment since many of the same players are still there. In two years, he has scored 46 goals in 102 appearances (not just league matches). And this last season he scored 21 goals in 20 starts. Being 30 years of age he would still have a number of years to play. The major drawback I see with Berbatov is that he plays better with a partner and did a good job with Robbie Keane when he was at Spurs. However, Harry favoring the lone forward with Rafael van der Vaart playing back might not work out for Berbatov. Plus, United seem to prefer a trade for the striker and the individual United want is Modric and Spurs have made it quite clear they have no intention of parting company with him, so that might end that idea.
- Leandeo Damiao of Internacional could be another attractive pick for Tottenham. In two years with Internacional, he has scored 29 goals out of 49 appearances. However, his youth being 21 years of age could be a caution for Harry in looking for a more experienced player. But a young player under the wings of veteran players could be just what the team needs, to build for the future.
- Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea would fit the same mold as Damiao — a young player with a lot of potential for the club and so he would be someone else to consider as well.
- Sometimes looking beyond the top leagues might be a good idea as well. For example, Reading’s Shane Long could be good a nice addition to the strike force at Spurs. During the 2010-2011 season Long scored 23 goals in 45 appearances and has been linked with Celtic so other top clubs are looking at him and one that Harry may want to consider as well.
Last January I thought Tottenham should have made a more aggressive move for Andy Carroll, a young striker I believe is on the rise and a player that really could have matured and developed at Spurs. I think they could have afforded the transfer bid and beaten Liverpool to him. To a point the club is going to have to spend money. Like the saying goes, in order to make money you need to spend money. For the time being Spurs will not be able to offer the big wages that Manchester United or Manchester City can afford, but that is alright since there are plenty of talented individuals who will be attracted by a club that wants to build for a future and challenge the status quo.