Top four. Top four. Top four. It’s been the mantra for Spurs managers over recent years, but somehow the prize, more often than not, has seemed to slip through their fingers for a variety of sometimes predictable, sometimes weird, reasons. With manager Andre Villas-Boas entering his second season with the club next year however, it may be time to set those Spurs sights a little higher. The title? Well, the simple answer I would give is that with the team they could potentially put out, why not?
The club have an exceptional goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman has gone through his first season in the Premier League, so any ‘shock of the new’ will already have worked through his system. It seems likely that the assuredness that was growing across the Tottenham defence towards the end of the season was largely contributed by the fact that club now have a genuine world class performer between the sticks. Throw in the ever reliable, apparently ageless Brad Friedel as back up, and there seems to be solidity about the goalkeeping position at the club.
In defence, the club appears to have a wealth of talent to consider. Even with the potential departure of William Gallas and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, club captain Dawson leads a strong unit. Alongside Dawson are Kaboul, Caulker, Vertonghen, Walker, Naughton and rose. With the adaptability of players to operate across the back four positions, Villas-Boas has a number of options, but a pairing of Caulker and Dawson in the middle with Vertonghen and Walker on the flanks not only offers a good blend of youth and experience, but also pace and attacking verve.
The midfield, should Levy make good on his promise to retain the services of a particular Welshman, could be Spurs’ strongest suit. With talk of Scott Parker moving to QPR gaining credence and rumours of Huddlestone also leaving, it could be perceived as the squad being a bit light in this area. With Paulnho now secured to link in midfield with Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey, Sigurosson, Holtby and Livermore, however, this is far from the case. Throw in Bale and Lennon to stretch defences in the wide areas, and there’s again options aplenty. Clearly, there’s the possibility to juggle players such as Dempsey further forward, but to my mind, a centre pairing of Brazilians Paulinho and the underestimated Sandro, with Bale and Lennon, sounds dynamic to me, without sacrificing solidity. Up front is the key however.
That midfield is primed to create chances for strikers, but the in and out performances of Adebayor have not done justice to the promptings. Although Defoe will be 31 in the early months of the season, he remains a potent force, and if Spurs can combine him with the sort of physical presence he requires in a strike partner, he will score goals. The key to all of this of course is getting that ideal partner. Succeed, and the club can look forward to potentially their best season in years, fail and another fourth place scramble beckons. The David Villa boat has now sailed, but to partner Defoe effectively, he may not have been the ideal candidate. Over in Birmingham however, there’s a player who fits the bill, and conveniently has just handed in a transfer request. Christian Benteke is thought to be on AVB’s list, and if Daniel Levy can work out a deal to take the Belgian there, the option of pairing the young Benteke, with the artful Defoe will be an enticing prospect for Spurs fans. With the little and large combination that has worked so well for Defoe in the past, plus the untapped goal scoring potential of Benteke, the strike force promises goals aplenty.
Now, before we get carried away, I’m not saying Spurs will win the league, but with an option of this team to put, out, they need to raise their targets, and landing the trophy is not out of the question. Arsenal were never that far in front of them, and Chelsea, United and City all have new managers to settle in. This may be a unique opportunity for the White Hart Lane outfit. It’s been a long time since Spurs could call themselves England’s top club. Get it right, and next year could be the year.