Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surf's Up for Spurs

photo by A. Strakeyvia PhotoRee

Columnist Ed is back on the Spurs' beat, in large part due to a suspension for "ungentlemanly conduct" committed by columnist James at the farlieonfootie office holiday party:

When Niko Kranjcar cracked a screamer into the right side of the net on Saturday in stoppage time and gave the Spurs a 2-1 victory over Bolton, you could just sense that the EPL had changed.  United had lost, Chelsea was to lose, and now this Spurs side showed that they don’t merely have the talent to make a push this season, they also have the depth.
It’s well known, I think, that footballers rise and fall in waves (See, eg, Et tu, Blackpool – there is a tide in the affairs of men, etc. etc.), and these waves become very clear in the long season of the EPL.  Injuries take their toll on some, fatigue on others, and malaise on others still. 
Take Gareth Bale as an example.  At the beginning of last season he didn’t start, and when he did they couldn’t win.  By the end he had taken his place at left halfback due to injury, and had become, arguably, the most influential attacker on the team.
Or take Aaron Lennon.  Against Bolton he appeared a danger every time he touched the ball.  This form he is in now – which he’s been in for about a month – was something he had prior to his injury last season and has only picked up again after about four or five months of injury and uninspired play.
Another player who’s gotten considerably better this season – due in large part to Huddlestone’s injury – is Jermaine Jenas.  He’s shed his status as a shaky back-up to become one of the more exciting midfielders Spurs have.  In one run on Saturday he blazed down the center of the pitch only to be fouled at the top of the box.  From there he took the free kick and put it over the wall and into the top corner of the woodwork.  Not a goal, but a sure indication that he has arrived.
Niko Kranjcar, who still may be late for the door at White Hart Lane, played well last year but this year couldn’t crack the starting lineup, in large part due to Van der Vaart being brought in.  But isn’t it nice to have a guy like that on the bench?  Seems so Manchester United-ish, doesn’t it?
Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Uncle Harry manages with a lot of common sense, and I’ve always taken this as a backhanded compliment, as in” “he’s not a great thinker or strategist but he does handle the simple questions right.”  But perhaps this interpretation is wrong.  Perhaps to Sir Alex common sense is what it’s all about.
People questioned why Redknapp brought in Pienaar (hah!), but with Bale out that now seems both obvious and perhaps even clairvoyant.  People also questioned the move for Charlie Adam, but now with Van der Vaart needing a rest and Modric out, fans should be upset that they just couldn’t get that deal done in time. 
In short, maybe Harry does manage with common sense, especially if that means knowing the importance of having a quality player on the bench if something happens to the starter, and then another guy after that just in case.

This is farlieonfootie for February 9.

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