LONDON ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Aaron Lennon of Spurs attempts to cross the ball as Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United closes in during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on January 16 2011 in London England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
The footballer known as ‘Azza’ to his teammates and Lennon to us Tottenham fans can often go unheralded. I still recall his first season for us when he replaced Wayne Routledge on the opening day of the season against Portsmouth at Fratton Park years ago.
Martin Jol has to take credit for helping Aaron Lennon flourish, putting him on the left. Also, during Jol’s tenure, Lennon was known to be homesick and the club assuaged his fears off the pitch, whilst nurturing his development on it. It's possible that Lennon grew as a result.
Juande Ramos tried putting him in the hole and as a second striker (albeit intermittently). Lennon learned and became more of a all-around footballer as a result. If the situation occurs in a game he’s comfortable on either side of the pitch. I’m sure you’ll recall his assist from the left to van der Vaart away to Aston Villa and his recent goal from the left against Newcastle United.
Lennon has a cool temperament; I remember when George Boateng tried to intimidate him at WHL in the 08/09 season, only for Lennon to fight back. That moment startled his teammates and Tottenham fans alike. In his second season in the Premier League, Lennon had to endure a plethora of nasty fouls and kicks, a bit like the ‘treatment’ Gareth Bale is receiving from defenders now. Such roughhouse tactics clearly make a player stronger and it’s had the desired effect on Lennon.
I do wish however, that he’d attempt more of his outrageous tricks and skills that we all saw in his first season. Now that the opposition are aware of his pace, they’ll often double up on him or show him inside. I feel he could utilize his box of tricks more often and catch his opponents off guard, much like he did in his first season. Lennon got taken off at The Emirates as he was ineffective, and he needs a right back who’ll play him inside the fullback which Vedran Corluka does more often than Alan Hutton. The midfield should also look to play Lennon in and not just hit him on the byline, where he’ll have to take on two players often alone.
Also, who can forget Lennon’s countless late goals for us? There’s that finish at WHL three seasons ago against Chelsea with his left foot, the stoppage time equaliser at the Emirates two seasons ago, and of course, his late winner to home to Liverpool this season, as well as his very late equaliser away to Newcastle a fortnight ago (I could go on). Scoring late goals is a good habit to have.
Lennon also fought off any competition from David Bentley and has been unfazed at David Beckham’s presence at the club. He’s hardly made any complaints whenever his position has been under threat. Lennon, who is still only 23, is clearly made of tough stuff both mentally and physically. This can only benefit Tottenham for however long Lennon remains at White Hart Lane.