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Ramos Is Building Towards A Champions League Push, But Is This The Year For A Top Four Finish?


It was only four months ago that the disciples of White Hart Lane were celebrating in their thousands at Wembley after a glorious Carling Cup Final triumph over London neighbours Chelsea, but already the eleven heroic warriors who battled to victory on that day have depleted into a number which will be able to be counted on just one hand after this week’s transfer activity is done with.Of the fourteen players who played some part in staging a highly memorable comeback to topple Avram Grant’s Blues’ on the club’s special day at the national stadium in March, five have already departed to fellow Premier League clubs in seek of further opportunities, whilst Dimitar Berbatov and Younes Kaboul look set to follow suit this summer.Those who have already left are inspirational forward Robbie Keane, attacking midfielder Steed Malbranque and flying full-back Pascal Chimbonda, as well as midfielder Teemu Tainio and goalkeeper Paul Robinson. Kaboul is being courted by Sunderland, and is expected to complete a move either there or elsewhere this week, whilst Berbatov has attracted significant interest from Manchester United as well as telling his current employees that he wants to move on.The Bulgarian will leave a huge void up front at the club if his dream transfer does materialise in the next month, after dazzling his way to being a fans favourite with some sublime goals and mesmerizing trickery in his two years there, but so far the sad departure of fellow striker Robbie Keane has had the most impact on the team’s morale.The Irish forward has been one of the most praised strikers in the Premier League in the last few years, and his favoured creative role of playing just off the front man is sure to add to Liverpool’s attacking threat in this coming campaign. But Liverpool’s gain will be Tottenham’s massive loss. Keane was their captain, and his consistent goalscoring record may be heavily missed if Darren Bent struggles to handle the burden of being the club’s only senior recognised striker. With Berbatov also seeking a summer move to a more established club, Daniel Levy and his fellow board members need to sort out a significant signing in that area of the pitch very soon.But whilst Tottenham have been waving goodbye to some of their star performers from the past few seasons, Juande Ramos has been quietly shaping a squad of players who he believes will challenge the dominance of the big four in the future. And if he managers to capture one or two quality strikers to supplement the quality attacking midfield players he has already bought this summer, his ambitions have every chance of becoming reality, especially with Arsenal looking threadbare and Liverpool struggling for signings.Luka Modric, who performed excellently for Croatia during June’s European Championships, arrived before the tournament for a hefty fee, but after watching his terrific displays it looks like Tottenham moved at exactly the right time – when the player hadn’t yet proven his class to the onlookers of Europe, which would have resulted in a price increase. Tottenham may well have got Modric on the cheap.And Barcelona’s young prodigy, Giovani Dos Santos, has also arrived, though for a smaller fee, but his potential is undoubted by close followers of the Spanish leagues. He scored a hat-trick in his farewell appearance for the Catalan club, and Spurs supporters will be hoping for more of the same when he begins playing competitively for them against Middlesbrough on the opening day of the campaign.Both of these starlets are widely renowned as exciting players who have the ability to light up the Premier League, but this season may not be the moment for that to happen. Foreign imports often need a few months, or even an entire season, to fully settle into their new life and surroundings in England. And that’s not even to mention how tough settling into the league itself can be. Class players always make the jump eventually though.So Tottenham fans should not expect immediate impacts from their two new flair players, but in the future they could well become two of the most dangerous attacking threats to opposition defences. They are two more pieces which have been added to Ramos’ jigsaw, and quite big ones at that.The puzzle is not yet complete though. Because whilst Ramous has bought in the experienced PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Heurelho Gomez, whose proudest moment was saving numerous penalties in a Champions League quarter-final shoot-out victory over Lyon in 2005, quality defenders and forwards must be a serious priority for Ramos at this stage.Pascal Chimbonda has left for Sunderland, so a right-back replacement is needed for him. And whilst the midfield may carry startling quality, the overall defending of the team has been heavily questioned throughout recent campaigns. Ledly King should steady the ship on his arrival from a frustratingly lengthy injury problem, and Jonathan Woodgate showed the necessary signs of promise in his debut season to suggest he could be an excellent partner for the club captain.If those two stay fit for the majority of the time then the defence should leak nowhere near the amount of goals it did last season. It looks as though the talented but clumsy centre-back Michael Dawson may have to play a bit-part role in the upcoming campaign though.Ramos’s era is already taking significant shape now. He won the clubs’ first trophy since 1999 with somebody else’s squad, and now he is carefully building his own to achieve success in the most important competition of all – the league. Whether his attacking signings will spark a major challenge on the top four this season is still in question, but with a bit more reassurance in the defence and at least two new arrivals in the striking department there is no reason why this season can be another successful one for Tottenham and their Spanish headmaster.

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  1. Seattle Yid

    July 31, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I’m hoping that when the Berba issue is settled, Spurs will look to bolster the back line. The first choice back 4 looks solid with Hutton, Woodgate, King and Bale, but when and how long can we expect to see that quartet in the starting line-up? When Woody or Ledley drop, Spurs could be back to calamitous defending and conceding shocking goals off set pieces.

  2. Kevin

    July 31, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Spurs should talk to Juventus about signing Tiago. Mendes as he hasn’t fit in Ranieri’s plans at the Old Lady

  3. Baz

    July 31, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Shouldn’t waste so many words on Tottenham. They’re rubbish!!

  4. dang

    July 31, 2008 at 11:40 am

    the league just gets stronger and stronger, i think it’ll take a couple of years for tottenham to make a real challenge with all that attacking youth but who knows if ramos will still be around. they need more help on defense though, king and woodgate are good but they need much better insurance when (not if) the two get injured. a stronger “makelele” type player is needed as well.

  5. ossie's dream

    July 31, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I expect Spurs will dramatically improve their league position, but agree that a top 4 finish will be too much of a stretch this year.

    If we ignore all the other squad changes for a second, the loss of *both* Keane and Berbatov in this transfer period poses the biggest headache for Ramos. This was one of the most potent Premier League front two pairings in recent memory, and arguably Spurs’ greatest. Losing them both in quick succession leaves a gaping hole in Spurs’ attack and despite Darren Bent’s pre-season form, replacements will need to be found and quick.

    Spurs possessed a strong squad at the end of the last season and it can be argued that strengthening in a handful of key positions was at that was needed. However, what we are witnessing are wholesale changes to the team. It will take a while for the new faces to bed in and the team to adapt to a new formation (most Spurs fans agree that Ramos will employ a five-man midfield with a lone CF).

    My prediction: 6th in the League and another cup win.

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