LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Tottenham assistant coach Joe Jordan looks on during the FA Cup Fifth Round Replay between Tottenham Hotspur and Stevenage at White Hart Lane on March 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
This week sucks. I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to suck. So, in order to distract us all from the "suckiness" let's talk about the summer and let's talk about transfer rumors. Just as a disclaimer, this post makes the assumption that Tottenham Hotspur finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League.
The last time Tottenham played in the Champions League we often saw them suffer a "European hangover" in the league. How many times did Spurs put in a good performance in the Champions League only to lose to Wolves, draw against Wigan, etc.? Too many if you ask me. How do we remedy that? With depth and not just any depth, real quality depth.
Let's make some assumptions. First, Tottenham will qualify for the group stages of the Champions League and the first knockout round of either that competition or the Europa League. Second, Spurs make a quarterfinal run in each of the domestic cups. That means Spurs will play 38 league games, 10 continental competition games (2 qualifying, 6 group, 2 knockout), and 7 domestic cup matches (4 FA Cup and 3 Carling Cup) for a total of 55 matches. That's a lot of football.
After the jump we'll take a look at what Spurs need to do at each position to account for the sheer number of matches played.
Goalkeeper: Brad Friedel will be back and Gomes will likely be gone. Carlo Cudicini is, I believe, out of contract after this season and able to leave on a free. The way the club address this position will come down to how the manager (whoever it may be) and the coaching staff feel about Friedel. If they feel like he is still capable of being a top-flight keeper for at least another year or two then the club will likely look to bring in a young keeper to deputize. Someone like Jack Butland or Alex Smithies would be perfect for this. If, however, the club are like me and feel that Friedel is good, but not great and should be replaced as first choice then the club need to buy someone big. Igor Akinfeev, Samir Handanovich, Tim Krul, or Michel Vorm would all be decent choices.
Right Back: Kyle Walker has played more matches than any other Spurs player this season (40). Walker has not, in my opinion, been totally horrible nor has he been very good. He has sort of oscillated between pretty bad and pretty decent. We all know what Walker is at this point: a track star with few defensive or offensive skills. I am inclined to give Kyle Naughton a run in the first team in Walker's place, but either way the other Kyle's return to the club should mean less games for Walker. Also, hopefully Vedran Corluka will return from his loan and play a part for Spurs. Charlie seems to be a hugely popular player and his experience would be useful in a busy campaign.
Left Back: Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been almost as ever-present as Kyle Walker this season. He hasn't had any dip in form, but one would have to assume that even 50 games would be a few to many for the energetic Cameroonian. Danny Rose has, at times, seemed a capable backup, and, I believe, Naughton is also capable of playing left back. It would seem that the club can stand pat at the fullback positions and still have plenty of quality.
Central Defense: Ledley King and Ryan Nelsen will be out of contract after this season. I'd prefer that neither be offered contracts, but if Harry stays in charge I'm sure both will. I would like to bring Ledley back on a pay-for-play deal, but it remains to be seen if he would accept such a deal. Beyond those two the club still have Younes Kaboul, who has been Spurs best defender this season, and Michael Dawson who is usually the club's best defender. Steven Caulker will return from a successful loan spell at Swansea and with the injury-proneness of Spurs' defenders the young Englishman should see a few games. Sebastien Bassong also returns from loan and could, if he's not sold, have a part to play. The big rumor is that Spurs are chasing Jan Vertonghen and adding the Belgian defender would certainly help the depth at this position. Perhaps Spurs could add another defender from one of the relegated clubs. Either Roger Johnson or Richard Stearman both of Wolves could be a decent fifth/sixth centerback.
Right Wing: Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart have played a majority of this seasons matches at right wing. Lennon is the obvious first choice. Spurs have sorely missed the pacey winger in their recent bad run of form and his inclusion in the squad would seem a given. However, let's not forget that back in January Lennon was seen as the weak link in this squad. Again, this will depend on the manager's view, but it would seem that either someone to start ahead of Lennon or a more capable backup is needed. Giovani Dos Santos should be sold as current management doesn't trust him. I would expect David Bentley to be sold as well. Should Bolton Wanderers get relegated (they are 1 point clear of the drop right now) Lee Chung-Yong would be an excellent addition to the squad, provided he returns well from his leg injury. If Aston Villa go down, Marc Albrighton would also be a decent choice and of course there is the potential signing of Junior Hoilett on a free.
Left Wing: Surprisingly, Gareth Bale has been healthy for most of the season. He has, essentially, no backup unless you count Andros Townsend, but I'm not sure he's ready for the big stage just yet. Gareth's main deputy is Niko Kranjcar who likes to float in centrally, much as Bale (to my annoyance) has begun to do. What Spurs need is an out and out winger to back up Bale at this position and again, I would turn to the relegated clubs. Matthew Jarvis is capable of playing both left and right wing and is quite good. I'd love to be able to bring in Oscar De Marcos from Bilbao, but apparently no one is allowed to leave that club ever.
Central Midfield: Luka Modric is the heart and soul of this team. I've seen lots of idiots on Twitter, Facebook, and even this site talk about how Luka has been shit this year and you are all wrong. Luka is the most important player on this team, but the problem is that he has no backup. Scott Parker and Sandro are basically like for like. Jake Livermore and a healthy Tom Huddlestone are big defensive-ish midfielders with good passing range. The most reasonable facsimile Spurs have to Modric is Tom Carroll who is, in no way, ready to play in the Premier League or Champions League. Luka has been healthy this season, but that's rarely happened. We need a "Luka clone". Matej Delac might be a decent choice. The closest actual player to being Luka Modric is Marvin Martin, but the French midfielder is a bit too pricey to just come and sit on the bench.
Attacking Midfield: We might as well call this the Van der Vaart position because no one else plays it. Kranjcar and Dos Santos are both capable of playing it but rarely do. I don't really think it's necessary to find a back-up for this position because if VDV is not in the line-up, then Spurs often go with two strikers.
Striker: We all know the story by now. Spurs need a striker. Emmanuel Adebayor will return to Machester City at the end of the season and will probably not be back to White Hart Lane. Without the Togolese striker Spurs have only Jermain Defoe and Louis Saha left. Those two are essentially the same player, leaving Spurs with a huge need for a true number 9. Lucas Barrios has been presented as an option. I've mentioned Oscar Cardozo. The club could always turn to the relegated clubs at look at Yakubu or Steven Fletcher. I like the idea of bringing in an experienced striker like Adebayor or Dimitar Berbatov and also a young striker like Jordan Rhodes, Leandro Damiao, etc. Another interesting option might be Cristian Tello of Barcelona. The young Spanish striker is out of contract after next season and might find it hard to lock down a place with Barca. He's not a number 9, but he might be fun to have.
So, there you have it. To make sure next season is a success, Spurs have to have depth. They have to have players that the manager trusts to play in both the Premier League and the continental competitions. Unfortunately, if the manager is Harry Redknapp, that likely means we wil see a lot of unexciting players who are, for the most part, English.
Acquiring this depth will obviously mean increasing the wage bill, but it is necessary. Right now the Club has, essentially 15 players healthy that Redknapp trusts to put out on the pitch. That number needs to be much closer to 20. In an ideal world everyone in the 25 man squad would be capable of playing and starting in the Premier League, but that's kind of a pie in the sky dream.
What are your thoughts? Would you rather Spurs sign some good, quality depth or use their money to buy one or two truly elite (£25 million+) players?