The Kriss Sprules column: AVB – What’s the punchline?
Here’s a little hypothetical for all of you armchair managers out there: You’ve won the Europa League on the back of an unbeaten season, and come to England to increase your legend and step out of your old mentor’s shadow... by managing the club that he made great.
Having failed spectacularly – aptly demonstrated when your squad of players go on to be the Kings of Europe under your old assistant – you miraculously get offered the job of manager at the team who finished fourth in the league. What’s your first move?
For most of us, it’d be to take that foundation and build on it.
Andre Villas-Boas, it seems, does things his own way: a mysterious method that involves stripping the squad of some of its strongest assets and replacing them with, basically, crap.
AVB (pictured) can’t be held accountable for the release of Saha or the retirement of Ledley King. But the sales of Luka Modric, Vedran Corluka, Niko Krancjar, Steven Pienaar and Sebastian Bassong – alongside the impending departures of Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, David Bentley and Giovani Dos Santos, must have Spurs fans in a panic.
Why sell Dawson?
For me, Dawson was the obvious choice of captain at the Lane and probably the best centre half at the club. Yes, he has the occasional injury, but why sell him?
Huddlestone, on the other hand, has had his problems with injuries and fitness, but on his day is also one of the more solid, dependable holding midfielders in the Premier League.
I can completely understand the desire to sell Dos Santos and Bentley – Dos Santos has never looked like reaching his potential. He’s a lazy player who always looks like a deer in headlights when faced with a defender.
Bentley, on the other hand, is someone I have a personal distaste for.
Even if he isn’t good enough now, and arguably he never was, I can’t forgive the man for deciding that the England under-21 squad wasn’t good enough for him a few years ago. I’ve no time for someone so arrogant as to think their country, at any level, isn’t good enough for them and it wouldn’t upset me if he ended up rotting somewhere worthless for the rest of his career.
The Modric saga has finally drawn to a close. Frankly, Tottenham were insane for even entertaining the idea of selling one of the world’s best midfielders.
I don’t know if it’s AVB pushing this or Daniel Levy, but whoever it is needs to get their head looked at.
The replacements aren’t exactly jaw-dropping, either. Jan Vertonghen looks a decent signing, but is he really as good as people claim? There's a bid in for Yann M'Vila, but Modric has gone and Rafael Van der Vaart is also rumoured as a possible departure. It doesn't bode well.
Vertonghen made big waves in the Champions League and played well in a star-studded Dutch side, but most of his playing time thus far has been logged in the Eredivisie – a league comparable in quality to the English Championship at best.
Is he as good as he looks, or just a big game player? Can he even handle the pressures of playing in the top flight of the English game? Emmanuel Adebayor made his move permanent, but that gives the club a strike force of two.
Adebayor and Defoe need support
Adebayor and Defoe are both great players, but they can’t carry a side that will be competing on several fronts domestically and in Europe this season all by themselves.
We hear rumours of the Brazilian Willian (at least we'll have some fun saying that) coming in from Shakhtar, but I’ll believe it when I see it – he's a player that good will want to join a club with some real ambition. As for Gylfi Sigurdsson, time will tell.
He looked great at Swansea, but Spurs need someone world-class to hold their midfield together.
And when I think of Gylfi, I don’t think world-class. Do you?
One team that has made waves in the transfer market this summer is Sunderland. As much as I hate to admit it (I went to the University of Teesside, so I have a wee soft spot for Boro) they’ve impressed me with the signings they’ve managed to coax to Wearside.
While the release of Craig Gordon was a shock and the sale of Gyan left a hole to fill, the signings have been astute – Fletcher, though overpriced, will add strength in attack and Adam Johnson might be the bargain of the summer, if Saha doesn’t steal the title from him.
Cuellar will fill a gap at the back, too. The Black Cats may not be so unlucky this year.
Over at QPR, Mark Hughes looks set to enhance his reputation this season, too. Unfortunately, Mark Hughes’ reputation is for being very good at spending other people’s money and achieving nothing.
Sorry Hoops fans. Park, Hoilett, Green, Fabio, Diakite, Nelsen and Johnson are great signings. Sadly, though, Sparky lacks ability as a team-builder.
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