Besides the obvious areas Tottenham will need to strengthen this Summer, there’s a desperate need for an explosive impact sub to unlock games.
A lot will be written about and most likely spoken within the club of our need for a striker and possibly a tempo setting playmaker over the coming months. All of which is true and required but my feeling is that even if these two positions are solved, it will not necessarily be enough to guarantee Champions League football returning to White Hart Lane in 2014.
Another key area which we must solve in the Summer months is actually a seat in the Tottenham dug out. For a number of years I have felt there has been a serious lack of an impact substitute. Someone who can unlock a game in the closing minutes, or take the game to the opposition by beating a couple of players and therefore create space and chances.
There’s been a number of games under both AVB and the previous management in which we have been crying out for this fresh impetus in the closing moments of a game. If you look at the games in which you could argue have cost us Champions League football the last two seasons, the vast majority have followed the same pattern. We have simply run out of ideas in the final third in the closing stages of the game. The opposition, likely of the thinking that a point at White Hart Lane is a good return, gradually sit further and further back and space becomes of a premium.
The players which we have had at our disposal from the bench have simply not been of the style that you need in these types of game. You need a player who can do the extraordinary, whether that be to beat 2 or 3 players or pick out a pass that others wouldn’t see. Most would argue we have missed Modric, which I’d agree with but even with him in the team I was of the same feeling. Sometimes you have to switch it up, sometimes you have got to add a separate threat for the opponent to deal with.
The likelihood is that even if we do sign a 20-goal-a-season striker, there will still be these type of games, most of which tend to happen at home when a team sit back with little intent to come out of their own half. We can’t simply keep relying on Bale, we need this shift in impetus, we need a special move.
This season, AVB’s substitutions were fantastic at times. I put that more down to the quality of the decisions rather than the quality of the players. Villas-Boas seems to have a knack for seeing how a game is panning out and making the right call. Just imagine what he could do if he had a couple of players on the bench who would offer a real threat.
Many fans may be reading this thinking: we already have such a player at the club in Andros Townsend. Personally I’m still not convinced by him. You also have to ask yourself, at a time when we were looking at a battle for top 4 ,why did the club loan him out? Was it to gain Premier League experience, or was it that the management team don’t particularly rate him?
In an ideal world I would be looking at Bernard of Atlético Mineiro to fill this requirement for the impact substitute. However, with him being strongly linked to Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund we may be 12 months too late. Two other options could be Tom Ince and Christian Atsu. The contracts of these players is running down, therefore their prices will be relatively low. Both players have the ability to get the ball and put direct pressure on the opponent with pace and skill. This in turn will open up space for other players, increase the tempo of our play and could be a key piece in achieving our aims.
I would imagine the vast majority of whatever this summers transfer budget is will be going towards a striker and, perhaps, a central midfielder. However, I would suggest that if we are to achieve what we all want us to achieve then the impact substitute is an absolute must.