The August transfer deadline at the end of the month is often criticised as a distraction with three matches of the season already gone and on many occasions players signed in those late, late deals take considerable time to settle into their new team.
Tottenham’s summer transfer activities, however, provided a boost to the team that has seen them recover from the most difficult of starts and commentators and supporters are now asking the inevitable question, ‘Can Spurs actually win the Premier League?’ That such a question is doing the rounds is down to the impact of the three players, including two who joined in last minute deals, who signed last summer.
Brad Friedel at forty years of age continues to defy his age and uses all that experience to bring a calming presence and authority to the goalkeeping role which in turn brings order to the defence. He got off to the worst possible starts, particularly for a goalkeeper, by conceding eight goals in his opening two games but he knew not to dwell on such setbacks and kept a clean sheet in the next two games. His true value was seen in the hard earned victory over Fulham where Spurs spent the entire half defending but he produced outstanding saves when required and remained unflappable throughout, having the time to smile at some of the things that were going on around him. He was equally unbothered last weekend when West Brom’s Gareth McAuley tried to nudge him over the line as he caught a high ball under the crossbar. He’d had to deal with that sort of activity before and wasn’t phased by it. It’s not often that signing a forty year old is seen as strengthening a team but in this case it has and if he keeps going to the end of his two year contract with the club he will overtake Jimmy Cantrell as the oldest player to appear in League football for Spurs.
Scott Parker has brought a work ethic to central midfield that has been absent for some time. He goes about his work, up and down the pitch, winning the ball, carrying it forward when necessary or simply passing it on to someone else. This has been very effective and even in his debut it was evident that he was going to be an important part of the team, giving Luka Modric the freedom to express himself creatively, knowing that there was cover behind him. Parker has been likened to Dave Mackay, quite an accolade to receive from your manager but he is probably more a combination of Mackay and Alan Mullery as he bustles around in midfield like a throwback to the1960s. The ‘bargain of the season’ is a label that he has already been given and certainly he has justified Harry Redknapp’s determination to sign him even when the Chairman seemed reluctant.
Emmanuel Adebayor’s arrival on loan from Manchester City has provided the team with a focal point in attack and it has been used very effectively as Spurs undefeated run takes them up the Premier League table and into serious contention for a Champions League place. Last Monday week, Adebayor’s two goals took Spurs up to third and the two against West Brom ensured that they retained that position. If Adebayor had been clinical in his finishing in those two games, his goal tally could easily have reached double figures. He had nine shots on target last Saturday against Albion, more than any other player in a Premier League match in the past five and a half seasons. His contribution to the win at The Hawthorns didn’t just centre on those goals scoring opportunities as he worked very hard for the team, tracking back to win the ball on many occasions. He was also the provider for Jermain Defoe’s goal with a deft back heel to release him into the Albion half and strike for goal.
Unlike Friedel, Adebayor got off to the best possible start with a debut goal and then scoring twice in the home win over Liverpool which would ensure that he won over the Tottenham support. He then went six games without scoring but he contributed to the team’s success with ‘assists’ in a number of the matches. He has played with a smile and certainly seems to be enjoying his time at Tottenham. It was a bold move by the manager to take on a player of obvious talent but who in the past has had his temperamental side which would have made some managers wary, but Redknapp’s has previous for that sort of enterprising transfer.
One further ‘non-transfer’ piece of business during the summer has also played it’s part in Spurs rejuvenation and it is Daniel Levy who must receive the plaudits for that. His obstinate refusal to sell Luka Modric to Chelsea even in the face of constant media stories and doubts by his manager, has shown that Spurs are no longer a selling club and was an encouraging message for the likes of Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart who have been able to display their full range of skills knowing that they have the strongest possible team around them. While Modric may not have performed at his best so far, his very presence at the club has been an encouragement to everyone.
It’s exciting times at White Hart Lane with every player wanting to be part of the successful team that even when someone is out injured, they appear to be recovering more quickly in order to reclaim their place in what has been the best start to a season in fifty years.