After an atrocious performance against Villarreal and an up and down American tour, it was nice to see Spurs get a victory away from home against a quality side. Spurs didn't have their absolute best today, but a few players showed flashes of brilliance. I would have liked to have seen a more consistent performance, but this is pre-season and shaky performances with flashes of brilliance are our M.O. Hey, at least Harry Redknapp was happy.
The most encouraging thing for me was the play of Giovanni Dos Santos. He looked very comfortable in a second striker role behind Peter Crouch and did well to help set up Gareth Bale's goal. It's unclear what Gio's role with the team will be this season (if he has one), but I would like to see us try to make more use of him. He hasn't ever gotten a chance and his talent is undeniable when watching Mexican national team matches.
Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were, not surprisingly, the best players on the pitch. They were our best players for the last couple of months of last season, and they appear to have picked up where they left off. Their progress has been extremely encouraging, especially since both players were written off as busts by many after mediocre starts to their Spurs careers. When everyone is healthy for Spurs, I would like to see Bale at left back and Luka Modric at left midfield with the freedom to drift inside. Right now, I'd like to see Modric in the center of the park.
Right now, Spurs don't have everyone available to them. Notably, Wilson Palacios, who is injured, and Sandro, who will be joining the team when Internacional's Copa Libertadores campaign concludes. Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone have been playing in the middle for Spurs all throughout the pre-season, and both of them look poor. Jenas just looks like Jenas, and his play constantly has me questioning what exactly it is that he contributes to the team (NSFW language). It's obvious what Huddlestone contributes to the team, he's a very good passer and a decent tackler, but the fact is, the man is overweight. As the aforementioned video states, he's about as fast as a snail on ketamine. At the end of last season, Big Tom looked like he was moving okay. He's never going to be Usain Bolt, he's a big dude. I understand this. But there's a line between large and fat, and Tom crossed it in the offseason. He appears to have put on 20 pounds. I'm sure he'll get into better shape and I still think he's a professional quality footballer, but someone of his lack of fitness and pace shouldn't be starting for a team with the aspirations of Tottenham Hotspur. If either Tom Huddlestone or Jermaine Jenas starts our opening match, I will be a very frustrated fan.
Before this blog gets all negative nancy, Michael Dawson's play yesterday was very good. Dawson started his Spurs career as a very inconsistent player, but those days appear to be behind him as he progressively morphs into a central defender of enough quality that he can start on a team contending for Europe in the Premier League. With Woodgate apparently out and King's irreversible health issues, it's unclear who will partner him in most matches (Walker? Corluka moved inside? A new signing?), but at least we know we have one consistent, healthy central defender.
On Saturday, Spurs close out their preseason campaign by hosting Fiorentina. I'll have a piece up tomorrow about what I want to see from the team in that game.