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Entries in The Magnificent Seven - Deconstructing the Tottenham midfield conundrum (18)


If it was the 1980s, he'd be a superstar

Huddlestone did alright last night. We all know he's not on top form, nowhere near it. But then would you be if you spent a season sidelined? We also know he's hardly the most aggressive player which means the midfield battle can sometimes pass him by. Maribor got in our faces, hassled and pressured, Hudd tried to make things happen but he had little to aim for. Don't want to be seen as scapegoating and my comments in the after match musings was a reference to that one single incident when he casually watched a player float past him. If you were stuck on social media at the time, you'd understand the dart board mentality. Let's remember, he almost went out on loan (to regain fitness elsewhere).

Once he's fit, we'll move onwards with that never shifting conundrum as to whether a player of his style can settle and dominate in the fast paced modern game that expects offensive players to partake in box to box action. Hudd next to Sandro with perhaps Dembele pushed into a more offensive position? That won't work as Dembele is not a marauding attacking midfielder, he's one that runs from deeper positions and gets his boots dirty with his beastly work ethic. Hudd isn't a Sandro or a Parker. If you want to compare him to player-makers of old, he's also not a Modric who would recycle possession magnificently, working the ball forward, passing and moving and then looking to unlock the defence with an acute touch. That latter one is something Tommy can do. A smart piece of jigsaw he is but will he ever fit into our puzzle?

All this conjecture reminds me of something I wrote back in March, 2009. We didn't have the answers back then either.


From March, 2009.


Deconstructing the Tottenham midfield conundrum - Part III


Incredible or just plain ordinary?

The supervolcano under the Yellowstone Park has been fairly consistent, erupting on schedule every 600,000 years or so. Considering the caldera is the size of the park itself, when it’s erupted in the past, to say that it bestowed apocalyptic disaster upon Gods green earth is putting it mildly. It's been 640,000 years since the last time it coughed up lava, so we are due another one pretty soon if you go on its timetable from the past three million years. Although geologists don't actually know with any certainty if it will happen again because apparently the molten below is cooling off and the reoccurring eruptions might have reached the end of their schedule. If so, it might be a million years or more before Mother Nature wakes it up. It might never erupt again.

Tom Huddlestone is a supervolcano.

He's big, doesn't move much but when he does he melts the oppositions defence with devastating consequences. But it doesn't happen often. You might be lucky to witness this marvel once every 10 games or so. When the next one is due, I couldn't say.

Actually, scrap this particular analogy. I've no idea where it's going, and I'd rather limit the amount of Partridge-isms I'm guilty of from one week to the next. So let's try this again.

Tom Huddlestone is a fat Glenn Hoddle.


Tom Huddlestone is like a lighthouse. Stationary, but manages to light up all before him.

No, no.

Tom Huddlestone is our Dr Manhattan. Big and powerful, but understated and misunderstood.

No, no, no!

Ok. Analogies scrapped. Stick to facts.

Tom Huddlestone is not the most mobile of players.
Tom Huddlestone is a very decent passer of the ball.
Tom Huddlestone has a cracking shot.
Tom Huddlestone is technically good.
Tom Huddlestone is versatile.

But is Tommy too slow, cumbersome and defensively a liability? Or is that an unfair description for the player, where his strengths are of a more offensive nature? If you stick him in the middle of the park and the Spurs midfield are under pressure, can he step up and get stuck in, much like the maligned Jenas is capable of doing (when he's on song) by running up and down the pitch and hassling opposition players?

It's the job of Palacios or Zokora (shudder) to bite the ankles of the opposing players and break down their attack or reclaim possession. But that doesn't mean other players shouldn't pull their weight (ouch). Lennon is superb at times, in nicking the ball back for us. It's not so much a case of getting stuck in though, is it? He's played centre-back in the past and he's got involved turning defence into attack, with a touch here and a 30 yard pass there. You can defend brilliantly by sending the ball across one side of the pitch to the other with the outside of the foot, releasing your winger or forward and giving the defence time to re-organise.

But what happens before the ball is back in our possession and we are on the backfoot? And there are questions around consistency. There is an argument that Tom does put in a shift, it's just that compared to others, it doesn't resemble one.

The problem with Tom is that he is far less dynamic than many players of similar ilk (creative/playmaking midfielders). Which means he is far weaker in less offensive areas than any other midfielder we have. Carrick could defend well, wasn't exactly fast, but was mobile. Pace, or more so mobility, is important. He doesn't have any. Or more to the point, to quote about a thousand websites, he turns slower than the QE2.

Tom is quite similar to Jermaine Jenas in the way of potential. Both highly rated as youngsters, both possessing qualities that are admirable. But are both over-hyped? Or do they excel in some areas, but not enough in others to be considered complete?

Tom is a regular for the U-21’s and performs well, chipping in with a goal every now and again. But he’s not a regular for Spurs. But does chip in with plenty of assists and a few goals when he does turn out in Lilywhite. Why? Just because he can deliver clever balls and Hoddlesque passes, does this warrant an inclusion in our starting line-up? And if it does, what would it mean to the structure and balance of the team? Well, for starters, the team would have to be built around him. Or at least compensate for his deficiencies. So Palacios responsibility would be to clear the area allowing Tom to play Quarterback.

Now, this might work if, let’s say, Tom was as talented as Hoddle. To make a player the main creative outlet of the team he has to be something a bit special, and I’m not sure he’s that good, potentially or otherwise. Comparing anyone to Hoddle is blatantly unfair, so to re-word the above, I'd say that to build the team around one player they have to be, unquestionable, class - if not 'world class'.

Not to say I would not like to see him given a chance. But it’s asking a little too much for someone like Tom to 'carry the team'. It’s a bit like asking us to build the team around Bent by playing football like Charlton Athletic did in the days they resided in the Premiership - just because we all know he can score goals when on the break. Bent has a knack of doing so, but doesn’t offer enough to slot into a variety of forward roles which is required depending on the opposition. He’s a bit one dimensional. But what of Huddlestone? (not one dimensional, I'd go with a beefy 3D figure, tbh).

Even little Modric (did take his time to adjust which is understandable) gets involved with some of the dirty work – but he’s no defensive midfielder. So unless Huddlestone actually has an overwhelming negative influence on the team, there is no reason why he can’t play centre-midfield in a role that takes full advantage of his vision and skills.

Yes? Or no?

It’s a conundrum this one for the simple fact that he doesn’t play often enough. Let’s say Jermaine Jenas did not exist (I’ll give you a moment to climb down off your desk and pull your pants up and compose yourself........). Huddlestone would possibly get a more sustained opportunity to impress. The more games, the bigger the confidence, the better the communication on the pitch is with team mates. Coming off the bench, he’ll always be a decent impact player simply because of his sharp passing. But from his personal perspective, he’d want more than that. I want more than that. We all do.

Imagine if you will (I'm in fantasy mode today), Tom Huddlestone in Claret and Blue. Easy now. It's just a fantasy. He’d probably play every single week. That’s just an opinion, and West Ham fans might accuse me of over-rating him and that he’d never get into their team. Maybe. Possibly. But I guess that’s the point. He’s good enough, but good enough for whom? He is definitely good enough for someone. At some point in the next year or two, he'll need to be far more involved otherwise his progression will stagnate. Unless of course, what you see is what you get. Maybe there is no improvement coming. So, would you argue that his passing is that good, we can't afford to lose him? Or that the only thing he has is his passing ability and it isn't enough to claim a centre-midfield pairing - arguably one of the most important positions in the team.

Tactically, a manager will want his strongest 11 starting every week. Let’s say that includes Palacios and Jenas in the centre. If Jenas was unavailable, would Huddlestone slot in and give us the same type of thing, or more to the point, would he give us something that amounts to the same positive for the flow of the side?

Much like Jenas, he is good at some things, and not so good at others. Much like, well, most players. The trick is to maximise his abilities, getting the best out of him which will benefit the team. Harry has managed to do this with Lennon, a player who had an outstanding season, followed by a low-key one, and his now back to the type of form his potential has been screaming out for.

So how do we maximise Tommy boy?

Huddlestone - the quarterback? Sat in the middle laying off balls to both wings or dinking them forwards, with Wilson in the role of fullback, protecting him. Sounds immense on paper. And we've seen it in patches. I remember, when he first really started to push for a place at Spurs I considered him and Cesc Fabregas as the brightest midfield talents in the UK. Compare the two now. Ok, so Fabregas is a horrible arrogant piece of classless muck, but his ability as a footballer is unquestionable. But sadly the difference is fairly astronomical. The mucks influence is superior as is his general mobility. But one plays every week (when fit) the other is not first choice and excels (much like Jenas) against lesser opposition. But has done epically against the bigger teams too. Just not as often as, let's say, the scum that is Cesc.

Our midfield has always lacked spin. Palacios has brought us that. Lennon outstanding on one wing, Modric covering the other. So does Huddlestone - passing abilities aside - give us enough strength and assurance down the middle? Can he adapt to the pace of the game and the quality of the opposition? When he dictates, he is superb. And its those moments that have us asking the questions about his worth to the team. When the emphasis is with the opposition, that's when the concerns creep in.

If Huddlestone is around 60% of what we need from a player and Jenas is about 68% , then possibly both are nothing more than squad players and that we need to look at bringing in a more complete player, someone who is around the 80% mark and above. Someone like Carrick who gave us more than enough of everything. Or someone better. That’s no easy task. So an option would be to stick him in the team and run with it and just see where it takes us. If the talent is there and needs developing then first team appearances will answer the questions.

There’s also the option of playing Modric in the middle. But if we did, how would this improve on a Palacios-Jenas combination or a Palacios-Huddlestone pairing?

In conclusion, Hudd does offer us something but if a player doesn't scream out 'FIRST TEAM REGULAR' just by looking at him, and you have to pose questions, then it's likely that he isn't quite what's required - simply because of the doubts. To counter that, if a player isn't given a chance, then he won't be any nearer to proving he can do the job. Sometimes players do not fit into certain teams because of the way the team plays. Which is why Tommy is as a luxury.

If Jenas and Zokora can play so often for us and be considered first team regulars - with all the doubts and concerns around their abilities (or lack of) then maybe it is only fair to give Tom a chance.

If it was the 1980s, he'd be a superstar.


Six reasons why the Parker pen has no ink in it

I’m struggling at the moment to think of anything relevant to write up for the blog. Not even inspired to go to town with a satirical spin on...whatever. See? I can’t even think of a target to aim at. I’ve landed so many body blows to the In the Know community, it’s almost become borderline obsessive. Such is my boredom I’ve began to study strange activity relating to people I follow on Twitter, fighting off random fits of paranoia. I’ll start worrying once the voices in my head subside. Or am I not meant to have voices in my head? I forget.

If we sign Scott Parker as back-up or as a replacement for Luka Modric I will kill myself. How’s that for a dramatic and a wholly unnecessary twist on attempting to light-up that missing fire in my blogging belly? By ‘kill myself’ I mean metaphorically speaking. I haven’t quite figured out the logistics yet. I was pretty much emotionless when I read the story at breakfast concerning how the Football Writers player of the year is holding out for a transfer to Tottenham. I spent the rest of the morning trying to hold in my breakfast.

Without access to Andy Gray’s interactive touch-screen technology (it’s probably sitting boxed up next to the Lost Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse) let me simplify it:

Modric. Sandro. Bale. van der Vaart. Huddlestone. Lennon.

That’s excluding bench warmers; Piennar, Kranjcar, Jenas, Palacios – amongst others.

Might as well elaborate.

So that’s six ‘first teamers’ that need to fit into either a four or five man midfield (depending on the main forward we have playing upfront with vdV just behind him if we opt for a 4-5-1 that actually works without glitches).

We’ve got a ton of games on the horizon. Rotation will play a part for sure (Rose and Walker cannot be loaned out and both can cover flank positions) and injuries will happen – it’s the hard unavoidable fact of life. We just have to hope it’s not to key players, but then when you have a side that is practically glistening with players you could tag as being vital and one or two that are beyond vital (they’ve got a skeleton key around their neck such is their importance of unlocking the opposition in offensive and closing the door shut back in defence) losing anyone will hurt.

However, Harry being Harry, you always get the feeling he quite can’t make up his mind. He spent a lot of time adjusting and changing last year where we lacked cohesiveness that meant fragmented consistency with the balance of the side. If you throw in another name, it’s going to lead to further tinkering.

That’s Parker or any other midfielder we’ve been linked with. How does one delegate priority if we signed him or Adam (Liverpool bound thank God) or <insert average player name here>?

Look at what we have.

Modric – Makes us tick, dinks and crafts and creates. Keeps the ball moving, recycles it with a touch of a Catalan.

Sandro/Huddlestone – One is better at defensive duties, breaking down play and chasing the ball with timely interceptions added for good measure. The other allows for another dimension to our play with disguised passes and cross-field fright for the opposing defenders. Both are swappable dependent on the opposition and the tactic for the game at hand.

Bale – Every so often we hear the quote ‘his future is at left-back’. Basically, the premise is that with a clever left-winger in front of him to allow for the over-lap, Bale is better suited in defence rampaging forward on said over-lap. I’d agree if Gareth was a better defender than he is a left-winger, which he isn’t. Which means sacrificing him to make way for some convoluted midfield selection is a no-go for me. BAE with Danny Rose covering left-back is the future. Three’s a crowd and all that.

Lennon – Is probably due another good clean and crisp season without the dips and lulls. Perhaps Kyle Walker will deputise as a RM on occasions to aid with progression in his development that will allow him to ‘do a Bale’ unless it’s already decided he’s ‘the future’ at right back meaning he covers Corluka (and we work out where best to play Kaboul – note how we have plenty of quality at the back but can’t seem to work out the best line-up). Regardless, Lennon is our outlet on the right. But is probably the one that would be sacrificed in that theoretical convoluted middle (with the chap directly below replacing him on the flank to make way in the middle).

vdV – If he loses the extra pounds he was carrying across the entirety of last season and also focus without distraction at leading from just behind the front and just ahead of the midfield (rather than losing himself in the depths just ahead of the backline) then his galvanising force will be even more telling. As long as the player just ahead of him is as good as he is. Unless of course a fully fit 90 minute version of Rafa is a fallacy.

Add a new one into the above fold, one that expects to be first choice, and you’ll have a congested bloated feast that will leave you holding your gut in agonising pain.

In a world of complexities and elaboration, I’ll go back to simplifying it. Any midfielder we sign has to be a replacement for one that currently warms the bench because we will not be selling any of our key players. Scott Parker might have endearing battle cry qualities (debatable in terms of when these qualities are applied successfully - does it count when it's at West Ham?) but at Spurs, is he a viable option simply because of circumstance? And if so, at what cost*?

*See all of the above.

If he's happy to sit the bench, I won't complain.

Guess I’m not struggling after all. I gone and wrote me a blog article.




Midfield majesty

Continuing the season review from here.

It’s the midfield’s turn now.



Strange how things can turn out. One persons misfortune can lead to someone else coming to the forefront unexpectedly. Happened with Bale when BAE was injured. Happened with Sandro when Huddlestone was out. Might struggle to get back in now.

It’s been a mixed season for big Tom. A few seasons back, I discussed his merits and the fallacy of his immobility and his under-rated work ethic (he can occasionally boss games). His got the mad skillz with an array of volleys and thunderbolt shots and elegant passing that has a touch of the Hoddle about it. The dirty, darker side to his play needs to be policed as there’s nothing worse than seeing one of your own lash/kick out with studs.

Hudd offers something different to Sandro, but in a 442 (with vdV playing behind a lone striker) you would probably prefer the defensive qualities of the Brazilian to the offensive play Tommy has to offer. Mainly because he (Sandro) protects Modric who is then free to dink and dictate. What I do like, in terms of our squad, is that we have a rich variety of talent within our midfield pool – all players giving us something different.

The new conundrum (worth revisiting separately) is how best do we line-up to accommodate them?  2-6-2 anyone?

The bigger conundrum might actually belong to Hudd who might feel he needs to play week in and week out to truly maximise his potential.



I love Luka. So good you might not even notice him. His peers obviously didn’t. Although everyone else watching football from the stands or on television did. You can hardly miss his non-stop energetic coverage of every blade of the midfield grass. Always looking to play a pass or get on the end of one. Always recycling the ball with an almost Barcelonaesque presence. He is the control centre of the side, everything goes through him. The tempo, the possession. He’s imperative and quite simply irreplaceable. Because how would you go about replacing a world class player when perhaps signing one would prove to be a task of impossibility in this current climate of CL demands and ridiculous wages.

Luka spoke out recently, he’s an honest down to earth man. He’s happy at the club and isn’t looking to move on. We won’t sell him, we won’t look to sell him. Levy has already said this. Although money is money and if a bid came in for him that sat around the £35M-£40M and his agent whispered ‘150k per week’, an honest man wouldn’t lie to himself when questioning his loyalties to his own self being.

If you’re better than someone who is earning twice as much as you elsewhere, scratching your head you will.

I’m a romantic and with Spurs being in good nick with several top drawer players, I hope as a team they all have ambitions to stick together and achieve something at the club that works against what we’ve come to expect from history.

He might not score many goals but he’s magical with the ball at his feet. The fact everyone will be looking across to the Lane this summer speaks volumes about his quality. He would turn any midfield in this country into a better one.



This is what Tottenham is all about. Sign a young talented player, mishandle him through development and injury blips, almost destroy him and almost send him out on loan and then end up with one of the most iconic moments in our recent history: Bale, in the Champions League, destroying the reigning champions.

Okay, so yes there is plenty of style hype to run alongside the genuine substance. Gareth Bale is technically gifted, physically strong (or not – more later) and possesses great speed and agility. He’s also got an eye for goal. Unknown quantity in the CL meant he had a field day on occasions. Back home, one or two did their homework on the lad and nullified him. Although it’s hardly disparaging if you note how many times the opposition placed two men to mark him.

People who prefer to linger on the negatives are missing the point. There are no negatives. Just varying degrees of positives, some of which need nurturing to full bloom. He’s young. He’s learning. He’s had to deal with plenty, especially with regards to expectations and the extra attention after that hat trick.

‘Doesn’t do it in the league’ some have muttered. Well, sure, he’s not devastated opposing teams week in week out. But then his opta stats along with memorable moments might have been doubled had many of his brilliant crosses to head and across the six yard box found a forward. Not his fault movement from our frontline in and around the box let us down on numerous occasions.

He will improve, he’ll learn new tricks and his manager has to continue to play a part in progressing him. He’s a target, as we all saw with the tackle from Adam. He goes down easily, probably because he wants to protect himself. You can hardly blame him, it’s not like he isn’t being fouled. He is. He just takes a moment’s pause to make sure he isn’t broken. Someone still needs to toughen him up as it’s all in the head.

Modric might be the trigger, but Bale is the bullet. And he needs to remain in our gun.



Whether it’s because of the bench warming or loss of form and focus, Lennon has not been at his best. Sacrificed by Harry, I get the feeling that Aaron is at times disillusioned. He’s shown glimpses of what he can do but as cited by Tom over at thfc1882, we’ve never seen the best of him at the same time as Bale and you wonder whether an opposition could live with all the questions fired at them if both our flankers were at full pelt together. I’m not suggesting one is detrimental to the other. It’s probably just bad luck and circumstance. But much like Bale needs development and a word in his ear, someone at the club has to drill home to Azza when best to cut in and when best to cross. He still possesses the pace. He’s a weapon that won’t do much damage loaded with blanks.

Harry has to stick him on the right and the coaching staff have to work on his decision making. At full pelt, it’s hairs on back of neck dancing time. We need him rejuvenated and not wasted, much like how Fabio managed to do within the England set-up.



If you remember his first few appearances, the main criticism would have related to Sandro’s lack of comfort with the pace of the English game. Understandable. Which is why Harry slowly introduced him, what with pressures of moving to a cold country and settling into our way of life. But what struck me was the kids apparent unfazed demeanour and the manner in which he went about his business on the pitch. He made mistakes, he picked himself up and he got on with it.

Mental strength in abundance and therefore not a concern in my mind that we had found ourselves a winner. A player who believed in his ability to succeed for us. It’s early days but there is nothing to suggest otherwise. He’s a gem. But then he hardly arrived to Spurs from a nothing club. He starred for Internacional in their 2010 Copa Libertadores win.

No more mistakes, no more mis-reading of the games tempo and no more clumsy tackles and yellow cards (well, almost). In the Champions League he was quite simply superb. The pick of the bunch his performance away to AC Milan. His general defensive awareness as good as we’ve had, probably since Carrick. He allows others to flourish forward as he sits back and protects.

I’m excited at the prospect of seeing him in the team from the start of next season.


van der vaart

Just when the transfer window was about to shut, we were gifted a world class player at a steal. You can hardly say no. What you can say is, ‘how best to fit him in?’

I’m uncertain whether we’ve figured that one out. With a more robust centre-forward up ahead of him, perhaps we’d have seen more goals in our favour. He creates, he assists and he scores and he isn’t/wasn’t even 100% at any given moment during the course of the season. I hope his summer and pre-season is a great one because if he returns at the top of his physical peak, it will feel like we’ve signed him all over again.

I must have used the word galvanised a thousand times this season. It’s what Rafa does. His self-belief has proved vital and he’s practically dragged us up from the ground screaming and shouting in games, scoring all important goals and leading from the front – even though he’s not playing up front and can sometimes lose himself in deep areas between the defence and midfield that would leave Robbie Keane blushing.

Fourteen goals in a season of tinkering. Again, if Harry works out how to accommodate our key players in a formation that befits their talents and ability you’d be hard pressed to find a more attractive, pulsating midfield in the country.


Not to end this part of the review on a downer...

Palacios/Pienaar /Kranjcar/Jenas

Palacios has never fully recovered from his lowest ebb. A destroyer in his first season, he’s lost that intensity and with the emergence of Sandro and the inclusion of vdV and Bale on the left wing with Modric in the middle makes it extremely difficult and unlikely that he can work his way back into the side. A crying shame at £14M. I like him. He’s a good hard working lad who has lost his way and has failed to reclaim his past form. Again, we’ve been here many times before with players who we have written off and they’ve come back stronger. Just have a feeling that won’t happen for him at Spurs. Especially if we do end up signing another midfielder in the summer. Which I hope we don’t (other than perhaps a right-winger to cover Lennon).

Pienaar has been subjected to countless shrugs of despondency since his arrival. I’ll just say this: He was Everton’s player of the season. He’s no mug. Squad players should not be dismissed and he can and will do a job for us. He’s been here 5 minutes, give him a chance. Yes, he’s South African, and I would be dismayed if he was signed simply as a commodity (Khumalo anyone?) to aid with our SA fanbase. Okay, I admit he hardly fitted into the criteria we needed – but then when do we ever sign the right type of player? Charlie Adam – where would he have fitted into the side had he arrived during Jan? I think Pienaar is essentially a ‘Harry’ signing. Nice and cheap (wages excluded) and doesn’t quite make sense but does when he can offer cover. I'm trying to remain upbeat on this one. I'm probably in denial.

Kranjcar. Last season so so vital. This season, marginalised. Don’t think Harry utilised him enough and can’t see him at the club next season. Beautiful footballer and not too bad with the skills (boom boom). Rotation could have been slicker from the gaffer and Niko should have played far more minutes. Can’t remember what game it was now, but he was awful (along with one or two others) when given a start...but you wonder how much of that was down to man-management on the training pitch and sheer frustration.

Jenas? Injured for the best part of the season other than one decent cameo spell. He seems to be the perpetual squad player, always in and around the first team. But this season we’ve hardly had time to make disparaging comments because he’s hardly had the time on the pitch to live up to our low expectations of him. It’s not quite fair to be honest to say anything negative about the lad. He’s not been at the races. Another player who might be on his way in the summer. Because I can’t see how he’ll fit into the team any time soon. It's either him or Pienaar.


Next up, the forwards (or lack of).




Cole conundrum

Joe Cole. Let's be logical with this. Aside from the fact he's had a knock or too and has not figured too much (for club and country) if signed - where would he play and at the cost of what current Spurs midfielder? If Harry decides to mix it up and say, play one upfront, we'll left with another conundrum - what the heck do we do with the remaining strikers - taking into consideration that we are meant to be looking at another forward?

The obvious answer/solution would be simply this: squad rotation. No matter the formation, we're going to have injuries we're going to have priorities, so having a strong midfield would only benefit us - on all four fronts. But would that keep all our players happy and more importantly, would tinkering mess with form of both individuals and the team? Chop change isn't exactly the building block of consistency.

I'm not a manager, Harry is, and I'm sure we wouldn't want to spend a shed load on wages for a player who will not be key. I'm uncertain. Cole is without doubt quality on his day. But considering the midfield players who have, I'd hate to see the likes of Huddlestone stagnate. So, if signed how does it effect the dynamics of our midfield.

IMO, let it change if it benefits evolution. Otherwise, like for like, tinker with minimal effect depending on opposition/injuries. In other words, if Cole wants to be a team player rather than a constant first teamer - then I'm happy to see him sign. Of course, there might be a clue in what Harry stated about Bale in his interview with TalkSport, regarding Bales best/future position being left-back. That would mean Cole on the left-wing and the rest of the mid remaining as is (Wilson/Hudd, Modric, Lennon) leaving us with the likes of Niko as an alternative option.

Obviously, balance is vital - so there's need for some experimentation if this signing does occur. Although we do know Cole can track back (although I doubt Harry would have him doing so to the degree Jose did at Chelsea).

There's a fair bit of debating on the matter going on at the moment. Even Arsenal fans (who are heavily linked with Cole) are questioning how and where he would fit into their side.

So - if it happens and we do sign him; happy days?


The Huddlestone Proxy

He is perhaps the player that has elicited the ‘ahh I get it now’ response from the crowd (as the season itself unfolded) and from fans alike, and over the course of the season has grown in stature. But there are still question marks for some.

Spooky has previously mentioned the conundrum, in that whilst he appears to some to be immobile, lacks pace, is a luxury player, goes missing in big games, needs to play alongside a strong defensive player (basically Sergeant Wilson) to play to his own strengths or indeed lay off the Tommy K, he is not without his merits. And all of these have been common consensus opinions, since joining the club and a lot are, to be frank, not without merit (although the Daily Snail clearly haven’t heard of Photoshop).

      Huddburger anyone?

As some of you here will know, for the last couple of years I have been banging the drum (to the extent that I have been accused of acting as his PR agent) that Huddlestone is the closest we have had to replacing Carrick, to the point where those that have not been converted to my way of thinking have been silently assassinated and I carry on in my crusade. And as much as I’d like to now sit back and say ‘I told you so’, that wouldn’t tell the whole story.

But taking a step back it is easy to see that Huddlestone is also an anomaly in the bigger picture. It would seem the media has consistently pushed for an altered view on the game in England and with so many opinions out there by ex-professionals it is easy to see how it happens.

We are told time and time again about how great the English Premier league is, how tough it is and how the pace of the game is so much more intense than our European counterparts. And so in this frenetically paced environment we see an increasing number of waif like players, athletes who can ‘kick a ball a bit’, as opposed to the more skilful ‘guile and craft’ type players whose numbers appear to dwindle year on year, a perfect example of which is the increasingly frustrated Berbatov (who’s love for squirrels may see him moving to the continent).

And yet I can still (just) remember my Saturday morning’s as a nipper being told to pass the ball because ‘the ball can move quicker than I ever could’, this was relentlessly drummed into me (not in a Roman Catholic priests way) and yet amongst the myriad of opinion from ex-players it never gets commented on. Instead we are simply told that it is ‘pace’ that is so dangerous to teams and that these days they are all highly toned ‘athletes’.

Well Hudd doesn’t really have pace, I’ll grant you that, but he does put in some good leg work (often not noted or indeed commented on). So does that make him a ‘luxury player’? What exactly is he? Is he an attacking central midfielder? As he’s not your ‘box to box’ engine that get’s tagged onto so many other central midfield players (notably Lump-o-lard, Gerrard and more recently Fletcher for United). So maybe he’s not the player you want at ‘the top of the diamond’ or pushing forward. However he does have one hell of a strike on him when he connects. Conversely, he seems not to score very many from the positions he gets in, he doesn’t drive into the box to get onto crosses, in fact if anything he sits off waiting for the counter attack (good in my opinion, others find it frustrating).

So is he a defensive midfielder? Well there are some who say he can’t tackle, that stats from the last season alone will contradict that one, but actually this is where one of the subtlety’s of his game comes in. If you position yourself correctly and make it difficult for an opponent to get round you, you can stop them advancing without actually making a tackle. Helps If there’s a lot of you to get round of course, but it slows the attack and will force the opponent to rethink his attack. Does this appear on the ‘stats’ that get poured over each week? After all clearly there someone somewhere sat at every game with an abacus marking down every half-tackle, half-chance, along with the incomplete passes? Again you only have to look towards the media for their views on all manner of stats and indeed opinions. 

Well I have yet to see a specific column for ‘defending well without making a tackle’, but I have noted that Hudd has done this to great effect in some games (not all, and this is where the criticism is valid), most obviously in games where he shepherds the player into the brick wall that is Wilson.

But this whole ‘quarter back role’ that he’s been saddled with, does that make the best use of the fact that he can score a cracker right out of the top draw? And it relies on Wilson doing the tackling and passing to him to make the pass. Surely if you had the one player who could do both it would be more effective, wouldn’t it? And a quarterback dictates play, Hudd even at his best never really seems to ‘dominate’ oppositions, he just gets about his job without the shouting and ref surrounding that the aforementioned ‘box to box’ players all seem to have in common. He’s not a vindictive or terrier type player whose attitude commands the middle of the park like a (Roy) Keane or a Dennis Wise.

So he can’t beat his man for pace, he can’t really tackle (allegedly), he doesn’t have a ‘big lung bursting engine’ on him, and he doesn’t appear to outwardly have the big game attitude, so what is he? This ephemeral ‘luxury player’?

Or maybe he’s just a straight forward central midfielder, no ‘makalele’ or ‘quarterback’ tags. Just a simple player, where all he has to do in the middle is receives the ball and makes a pass. Well yes, but then anyone can do that, right? Wrong!!!! I refer back to one of the most frustrating and loveable players to have watched in recent times, Didier Zokora, who would run 30 yards to make a 5 yard pass, rather than simple make the 35 yard pass in first place. Was it because he couldn’t complete a pass over 5 yards, or that he was simply a headless chicken? I don’t know, I loved his heart and attitude, but it was never really matched by his play as it slowed down our attacks and allowed the organised teams to get back into their ‘two blocks of four’ an expression Messrs Hanson and Dixon seem to have patented.

So Hudd can make a pass, course he can. But that’s not the simplistic beauty of his play, no it’s always been far more subtle than that. He has two of the ‘gifts’ that others are not graced with, the ability to place the ball on a silver platter in any position on the pitch and more importantly the vision to see the movement by his team mates. Combined these give speed of thought and execution of a pass that turns defence into attack, and can split the most resilient of defences, or catch out players who have pushed out of position. For me, if the ability to create a goal from a single pass is a luxury, then in my humble opinion it’s a luxury every team could do with.

So I will now say that Huddlestone is the best midfield player we have had since Carrick, for me even better than Wilson (a sacrilege for some for me to even suggest that) and has the potential to be greater still. Sure with age and experience comes the ‘dominating’ aspect of the game, but he can tackle, and does, he puts in some of the hard yards and he ‘sees’ the game when he is on song.

He is versatile as well, he can sit back and make his passes allowing a more ‘craft and guile’ (Modders) or even our own ‘pace merchants’ (Lennon and Bale) to benefit from his ability. Or he can push on and dictate play higher up the pitch (alongside Wilson), as he seldom loses possession and so he allows a higher line of attack and defence. He brings the Balance to both our attacking and defensive play the likes of which we have not seen for some time.

For me he was my player of the season, admittedly this is mostly because I am biased towards wanting him to do well, but also because he has come on so much that we really missed him when he was out more than any other single player (I’m discounting the King as he was always likely to be out regularly).

Sure he’s not the exciting Welsh winger or goal poaching Russian that we love to love, and he’s not the ‘headline grabber’, nor will he get the crowd out of their seats. But, in terms of his overall ability, the effect he has on the game and just as importantly our balance and style of play, it looks like we’ve finally got a young English central midfielder around whom we can base a free flowing game of passing and movement – well passing anyway.

Hey, he might yet make the cut for the final 23 this summer. And I for one am hoping so for England’s sake, Rooney thrives on service and is often acknowledge for his ‘off the ball’ movement, just imagine what he could do with the sort of service that Hudd could give him from deep positions (now’s there a quote for some of you). Lennon (and Tottenham) has already benefitted this season, maybe England can too.

And to all those that wanted him sold 18 months ago I can only say ‘ner, ner, na, ner, ner’! Childish I know, but hey.......... 

.......Go forth and consider the above.


'If it was the 1980's, he'd be a superstar'

Back in March 2009, I posted this here, asking the simple question: Is Huddlestone incredible or just plain ordinary. Here's some extracts/questions asked at the time. I guess the aim of this exercise is to see if any of the questions have came close to being answered (something I attempted to do first time round). See how you get on.


Hulk or Bulk?

But is Tommy too slow, cumbersome and defensively a liability?


Or is that an unfair description for the player, where his strengths are of a more offensive nature?


If you stick him in the middle of the park and the Spurs midfield are under pressure, can he step up and get stuck in, much like the maligned Jenas is capable of doing (when he's on song)* by running up and down the pitch and hassling opposition players?


Just because he can deliver clever balls and Hoddlesque passes, does this warrant an inclusion in our starting line-up? And if it does, what would it mean to the structure and balance of the team?


So unless Huddlestone actually has an overwhelming negative influence on the team, there is no reason why he can’t play centre-midfield in a role that takes full advantage of his vision and skills. Yes? Or no?


So how do we maximise Tommy boy? Huddlestone - the quarterback? Sat in the middle laying off balls to both wings or dinking them forwards, with Wilson in the role of fullback, protecting him. Sounds immense on paper. Yes? or no?


So does Huddlestone - passing abilities aside - give us enough strength and assurance down the middle? Can he adapt to the pace of the game and the quality of the opposition?

When the original article was written, Hudd was a bit part player, but he's now a fully fledged first teamer. So simply this: Is he making the grade? Harry appears to think so. Do you?

*Does that still count re: Jenas? Does he even give us an on song performance nowadays?


Palacios is Plan 'A'....and 'B'

Spurs fans. Hard to please. Apparently one or two of you have been a little critical about Wilson Palacios of late. Ignoring jet-lag and the fact we've also been without Luka Modric, our dip in form has apparently been aided by our midfield enforcers lack of bite and lacklustre passing. So say the fabled football message boards.

Ok, he's not at the level he was at the start of the season and when he first signed for us. But let's not get too carried away with the negatives. Without him - we will struggle. A 70% Wilson is better than having no Wilson. Let's not forget how easily we've got bullied by lesser teams in the past. He is imperative and probably the most definitive signing we've made with regards to our intent to progress in the right direction. Unlike Zokora he has actual purpose. Zoko, for all his heart and athleticism, had no clear direction - other than running very fast in a very straight line (which I personally loved to bits). But for all his charm his touch and passing was non-existent and he failed to stamp any type of authority over that space between the back-line and the midfield. Wilson does. He is concrete compared to Zokora's feathers.

Our Prem record with him in the team reads as follows:

P19 W12 L3 D4 PTS39 (this might not be spot on by the comments)

His impact is undeniable, no? Although credit obviously to the gaffer for team selection and motivation.

Expect him to be around the 70% mark again this weekend against Pompey thanks to International duty. After that, with Modric two weeks away from a possible return, and the distinct possibility that we'll be signing another DM in Jan, things will even out to a more comfortable level which will allow us to rest Palacios more often.

We have a Plan B when Modric isn't fit.

We don't quite have one when Wilson is unavailable. For the moment, he's the masterplan. Plan A and Plan B. Thankfully buying Cotton wool between now and January is not restricted by the footballing authorities.


Vieira? Again? Harry is scaring me

Read this first. Ok, so let's summarise:

  • We are "short" in midfield
  • Lack of options are "scary"
  • Three CM's are not enough
  • O'Hara likely to return on Jan
  • Interest in Patrick Vieira was "genuine"

I can't decide which one scares me the most. I'd say the continued and persistent obsession with Vieira is slightly ahead from the apparent realisation that we are lacking an additional CM. Considering we sold 2, sent 1 on loan and flirted for the entire summer with several targets, you'd think stating the obvious would simply illustrate our failure. Unless this is textbook Harry using ever so subtle kidology to get the best out of the bunch he has.

Reality is we do not need another CM. I know most are expecting Sandro in the new year. New breed Brazilian. Rather than run-down no bite Frenchman. Am I missing something with Vieira? If Harry does rate him and does think he can do a job, then that makes a lot of people - a lot of Spurs fans wrong. He looks spent for Inter and hardly ever plays. And when we all thought this horrific rumour had died a death, Harry goes and mentions his name not long after the former goon is saying how he thinks he can work well with Redknapp. How many days till the window opens? Don't answer that.

As for the rest of Harry's comments about being scared and lacking options...I don't think we need to fret much. It's a small compact unit, sure, we might be shagged if someone like Wilson gets injured but we spent the whole of the summer discussing this and hoping for an understudy to be signed, so lining up excuses doesn't interest me.

Between now and Jan, Hudd and Jenas can go about proving to Harry and us they can do a job - a proper one. And the CM we do look to sign in the new year is one that finally lays this sodding conundrum to rest for good.


Is Huddlestone the 'answer'?

We have debated this time and time again. The Incredible Huddlestone is one of our most loved conundrums. Is Tommy good enough for our midfield? Is he the CM required to stand tall (and big) alongside General Wilson?

It's only two games, but both performances have us scratching our heads, re-thinking our prior opinions.

The first game was frantic and feisty and required graft and discipline. The second was far more open meaning more time on the ball to ping it about. And he impressed in both. So what about all the questions about his inability to keep up with the pace? His lack of mobility that leaves him wanting? His disappearing act when the game isn't made for him to play the quarter-back role? Even though he's quite young, we've been quite harsh, citing the fact that he's a luxury player - one with no place other than as an impact sub. Great passer of the ball but needs far too much protection. The there's the comparisons to Hoddle (which some people do) which is more than a little unfair on the kid. We can sometimes (most times) have crazy expectations which result in abject disappointment when a player fails to live up the billing we desire.

Now I know this is all a little premature and I'm not about to end the conundrum and announce he is the answer to our central midfield puzzle. But he's definitely making an impression. To think a couple of months back some of us would have been happy to see him join Fulham.

So what has changed?

Probably not as much as you'd think.

I guess for starters having Wilson Palacios by the side of him is the obvious positive. Much like Jenas who looked good at the back end of last season when partnered up with him. Confidence is always the key. And Palacios, who goes about his business biting at legs and patrolling the midfield like a frenzied panther, needs a good passer of the ball to compliment him so that his work is frutiful when defence is turned into attack. And Hudd's passing ability has never been in doubt. So there's an obvious balance there. One needs the other for it work.

It's easy to be critical of a bad Hudd performance when the players around him play poorly. But in a balanced, strong side - it changes because all that's good about a player of Tom's ilk is there to be seen. Hoddle (it's just an example) would not look great in a poor side because he wouldn't be able to dictate a game if the players around him fragmented play due to messy unorganised football plighted by lack of belief and ability. He might stand out as the only player with flair, but he'd be seen as the weak link because silky skills are redundant if the team is disjointed.

Hudd is no Hodd but they share similar qualities. Not much pace and sublime passing. What's the one about Hoddle not having to be fast on his feet because he would make the ground below him do all the running? Huddlestone has realised (thanks to Harry I would guess) that to help the team he has to help himself which then allows the team to help him back. It's obvious I know.

Spurs are a better and more balanced (fav word of the moment) side which makes it a lot easier for a player like Huddlestone to settle into his game. He was able to waltz through Hull. But also proved he could compete against a Top 4 midfield, battling it out with Liverpool with much success, never looking a class below.

He seems to move around a little quicker than we are use to seeing and also looks decent getting stuck in with the tackles (well timed rather than clumsy). Distinct lack of the 'Hollywood' pass is always a bonus (Bentley take note) and effective simple short passing the bonus. He's sharp and thus less of a liability and more of a productive and important player in what is shaping up to be a decent quartet.

Strong, sits deep when Wilson attacks, works hard to get to the second ball and importantly doesn't give it away needlessly. His positioning is also key. Because as long as you can read the game well, you don't need to run around like a headless chicken with no end product.

Obviously, the little voice in my head reminds me of the countless games we've witnessed where his lack of application has proved to be costly. Or how easily he can be turned and how slow he reacts. Perhaps our impatience has hindered the perception we have of Tommy because of what I've outlined (concerning the dynamics of our team stucture).

It's thanks to the balance (OMG that word again) and the tenacity of Palacios, Lennon, Modric and Keane - he's able to run (jog) around the pitch with an air of authority and acclaim. Application is up because he knows he has to match the players around him, so plenty of running back and tackles flying in. He might still be on the slow side, but he's more mobile than he's ever been because he appears to read the game better. He's fitter, leaner and has a zest about him.

However, there is a question of the return of Jenas from injury. What happens? And we are meant to still be interested in Sissoko, although we've also taken Le Havre 23 year old central midfielder Kevin Anin on trail - so who knows. Then there's the Scottish Zokora, Scott Brown up at Celtic who has been heavily linked. But the point of a player breaking through to assert himself as a first team player is to claim the position as his own. He probably knows he has to remain effective and consistent. And if he does, there will be casualties. JJ might be a tad concerned. And our transfer targets may change (still need another CM IMO to have what would be some serious hardcore depth in midfield).

But first we must discover if the two games played so far is a true testament to his 'improvement' and proof that he is now deserving of a place in the midfield. Two games won't provide the answer. What will?

Re-read this article after 15 games. If it still rings true, we are onto a winner.


Making excuses for JJ and Hudd

Tom Huddlestone is looking fit. Tight physique, strong powerful legs. It's enough to make my inner-Brüno smash his way through the closet door and reaching for his kugelsack. Ooh.

But alas, we said the same thing last season when Tommy was snapped with the lads, enjoying a swim and lark out in the sea during some frolicsome pre-season antics. It's a fallacy that he's fat. He's a big lad with a round face. He's had moments when he's over-done the mayo and ketchup and piled on some extra pounds.

But when he's in this type of shape (the slim type), there is no arguing he looks the part. Shame looking part isn't enough. And who am I kidding? He might not be fat in the way some of our fans in the Park Lane are, but he's far too big to be able to turn his vision and technique into something consistent and decimating.

Hudd's main problem is agility. He's not mobile enough. His stamina is questionable. He lacks any real acceleration. You know the drill. It's the same textbook excuses that get repeated with each passing year. Against weaker sides he excels, but doesn't do it often enough against the bigger sides (although there was one afternoon against Chelsea where he put in a superb shift). There is something about Tom that doesn't allow us to easily part with him. His passing is exceptional. He has a cracking shot on him. Whether he is a victim of his own build (too big to be a central midfield with any real clout) or whether hard work in the gym and on the training ground can aid him to be more involved in the tussles (rather than get passed by) continue to remain unanswered. With Zoko gone and Spurs needing to sign another CM (for backup at the very least), I can see us holding onto Hudd for another season - but when does one make a decision that the answers we are looking for will never be forthcoming?

In this day and age, CM's are far more versatile and adaptable. They can do a bit of everything. As discussed several times before - he isn't good enough for us to build the team around him and compensate for his deficiencies. But if you're planning to build a team around someone - they should not have deficiencies. Having him sit in the middle of the park with Palacios protecting him wouldn't work - because one player should not have to do the work of two. Modric might well play alongside Wilson in the middle, and even though he's a lickle man, he can handle himself just fine. You have to be qualities that are more than just promises.

Talking of playing well against lesser opposition. Jermaine Jenas is still with us. 26 years of age now. And we'll still waiting for him to defeat his demons. You know. The ones that gag and handcuff his confidence to the bed. The difference between being a decent player and an exceptional player is all in the mind. The great JJ divide is that everyone within the game rate him highly, and the fans in the stands don't. But we persevere. We persist. He's Zokorish in the sense that he's a great athlete. But having a great engine means nothing if you fail to make the trip from one stop to the next. The ride becomes redundant. A wasted journey.

Are we too loyally? Too emotionally attached? Should we be a little more brutal with decision making? In both JJ and Hudd, we have two players that promise so much but fail to deliver consistently enough to warrant a true first team place (although JJ has for a long time cemented his role in the side, much to the confusion of many).

Ironically, when JJ doesn't play - we appear to miss his presence. He must do something then? Something understated to the virgin eyes of the average fan, but imperative to the experienced manager barking orders from his technical box. Yet as much as I want to see what several managers (at national and international level) see, I fail each time. Jenas doesn't have a bit if everything, he just desperately has a go at everything. He tries to defend and he attempts to get involved in a creative manner, but running around the pitch endlessly doesn't equate to a defensive midfielder or an attacking one. He's way too apologetic with his dithering and his much maligned confidence has held him back since the days he swam around in the goldfish bowl. We cling onto hope because now and again he does something special and we see that as some form of preview for what he might be able to achieve every given Saturday.

And with Modric and Palacios now part of the furniture, players of the ilk of Jenas and Tommy suddenly look far more reminiscent of luxury players that need to be accommodated rather than players who can adapt, take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead by example. Players that are for the best part, average most of the time and exceptional on occasion. This has been easily illustrated as fact when you watch the likes of Wilson and Luka play.

Maybe our continued mistake is waiting for the question to be answered, when what we should be doing is replacing the question with a brand new one. The type that comes with a brand new signing.


JENAS: The goldfish needs a new bowl

A sense of dejua vu with this one. It's a question repeated countless times by the Tottenham faithful and one that I covered in detail here.

What should we do with Jermaine Jenas? If we get a tasty £10M offer for him do we bite their hands off?

I was actually, at various points this season, sympathetic towards the midfield enigma believing that with Redknapp at the club - and the dawn of another new dawn - with Palacios bossing the midfield, JJ might finally blossom into the player we all hope he would became. Alongside Wilson he showed us glimpses of a man who had suddenly found freedom after years of repression.

Jenas, some would say, is a luxury player in that he has to be in the right team with the right team balance to be capable of turning it on. Others will quickly state that a true 'top 4' midfielder wouldn't need to rely on the people around him in the same way JJ needs General Wilson. And someone at the back will whisper that we are not a top 4 club and compared to other teams outside of the elite, Jenas is possibly as good as anything they've got. Or is that another delusion?

Give him another chance, one more the groundhog day opinion that will not go away. Isn't it about time the day just ended and we woke up to a brand new one?

If Harry believes Modric should be played down the middle with a winger (Ashley Young perhaps?) taking responsibility on the left - Jenas would suddenly find himself benched long term, surplus to requirements downgraded to squad player rather than first team regular.

I'm not going to run through another in-depth analysis of the player (the conundrum series covered it in detail). Everything that's been said has been said. Fans are split and indifferent to the lads form and end product. Managers and coaches seem to rate him very very highly. Which means either fans can't see what the professionals do or Jenas is a criminal mastermind responsible for digging up dirt on everyone in the game in the greatest mass blackmailing in history.

I can only go on what I know and what I see. As I'm sure you too have an opinion on this.

When we speak of potential in a player, it's the hope - based on current abilities - that they can grow and develop and improve their game. It’s a question of finding that extra 10%, 20%, 40% or whatever from somewhere, usually from the experience of one season on top of the next. Jenas might have the ability. We see it when he is at his box-2-box best, but usually against lesser opposition. And it's here where we cite potential as the excuse. If he can destroy Hull or Derby and he can sometimes do it against Arsenal then the next stage of evolution would be to perform at that standard every week and show signs that his in-game weakness are gradually being eliminated. But he never quite grasps the opportunity or indicates that he has overcome his demons (the ones that suffocate his confidence).

The fact he is not performing at a high standard every week means its not so much 'he has the potential to do so' but more the case of 'he just isn't good enough to get there'.

Imagine if the lad had the same mental strength as Frank Lampard. He'd be very good. He'd be exceptional. And that's what we hang on to. That extra 20%, 30% or so that's required from him to finally make the grade. But what we ignore is that football is more than just the ability to play it physically. Composure, decision making...are also fundamentals, but if you're not 100% in the head then that can be the difference between being good and reaching world class status.

JJ doesn't have that arrogant swaggering belief that's required and his perpetual search for a heart, stuck on the yellow-brick road all alone and lost, is never-ending. There is no potential to come to the rescue. The Wizard has shut shop. 

Going back to the Lampard analogy, saying that if Jenas did have the mentality of the Chelsea midfielder he'd be outstanding is a bit like saying imagine if Joey Barton didn't have a temperament problem. Some people are built in a way that does not allow for change.

So I guess we either have to except this is it and that the player is as good as he will ever be and we simply compensate for his deficiencies because - for all that is frustrating about him - he's still a decent footballer. Or we except its time for him to move on and allow another club and manager to take the responsibility of being the Wizard.

I think it's time Jenas moved on.

And yet I find myself looking in the mirror and seeing M. Night Shyamalan staring back at me as I think to myself...I'd be gutted if we sold him.


Jenas: The Marmite of the Spurs midfield

Click on the following hyperlinks for Part I and Part II and Part III.


Tapestry Part IV

Jenas: The Marmite of the Spurs midfield


Dear Mr Levy,

"Graham Roberts would run through walls for Tottenham. Jenas would apologetically whisper that he has lost the keys for the door, then sleep in a park bench for the night"

I think it was two years ago when I made that statement. And in some ways it probably stills apply today. I'm not going to dive deep into the enigma that is JJ as I've done that already in great detail here. But I will touch upon one or two aspects in order for the question at the end to make sense.

Jenas is a definitive Levy signing. You know this to be true Daniel. He's always been your poster-boy. Young, English, bags of potential and only cost £7M. And he's also a textbook Spurs midfielder. Bit of a fairy at times, goes missing far too often but has a eye for goal and does turn in a performance every so often. A luxury some would say, as arguably he can only play outstandingly well if he has the right type of players around him, so never expect him to excel if the team is struggling. There's no Roy Keane tenacity or extreme self-belief Lampard style to be seen here. And his best performances usually come against lesser opposition. Not to say he hasn't performed well against stronger opposition, but he does enjoy destroying the likes of Wigan and Derby.

The fact is, Jenas has been at Spurs for a few years now. And we are all still waiting for him take it to the next level. Now considering we all know he lacks that streak of arrogance that would surely elevate him to consistent performer, maybe the reason Jenas has never struck gold at Spurs is because he has never had the right partner in central midfield. He's obviously a fussy type.

See us lot over at Spurs struggle from one season to the next thanks to our inability at noticing what needs fixing. I can see it from the stands, but we'd be damned if you (Mr Chairman) and the management can. Harry, thankfully, did see it on his arrival. Comolli thought he did, but signed us Zokora. But with Harry, in came Palacios. A mean, disciplined (but knows when to be dirty) midfield enforcer who does all the donkey work, sweeping up balls defensively so that can go on the offensive. It's incredible to think that we've not filled this gaping hole in recent years. And when we eventually do, it’s like finding the end of a rainbow and that pot of gold.

Jenas, without the responsibility that usually leads to him crumbling under pressure, has the freedom to roam and actually fulfil that box-to-box expectation we have of him. But with the emphasis more on attack than defence. See no matter what is said about JJ, we know he has the talent, he just struggles with the application. He's a bit like Windows Vista. Got all the tools in the box but it’s a sodding bitch to get it to work with anything.

If you're wondering, Zokora is Windows ME. An eternal blue screen of death.

So I guess the question is - is he worth it? Is Jenas worth another season of patience?

With no Wilson (Windows XP, Service Pack 2 - not flash but bloody consistent), alongside Huddlestone (Linux - an acquired taste ), it doesn't quite work. Is that JJ's fault or the fact that Huddlestone is also the type of player that requires team protection? But if Wilson can boss the midfield no matter the player by the side of him, is JJ a luxury because he only works well if he has someone like Palacios by his side?

If there is a player out there that can handle himself and doesn't suffer from that apologetic disorder we see so much of at the Lane, then why even bother with Jenas at all?

Every season, its 'next year' with us. It's synonymous isn’t it, that we are forever in a transition from one season to the next, never quite settled and it's mirrored by Jenas and his metamorphosis remaining in continued stasis.

Do we need to replace him just for the sake of a fresh start? Or does he warrant a chance, a full season under the guidance and man-management of Harry Redknapp, who has worked his magic with the likes of BAE, which let's face it, we all thought would be an impossible task even if playing in a full back position is more of a rooted role than central midfield.

A consistently confident Jenas is something we have yet to see, but maybe he's deserving of another season with Wilson at his side to prove all the doubters wrong.

You could then sell him to Utd on the final day of the transfer window for £20M.




Tapestry Part V up next, and Harry Redknapp.