Like most freelance writers, I face a constant battle against the powers of procrastination. So last week I decided to combine one of the chief causes of me not doing any work, with a paid assignment, that resulted in this article on the best players to sign on Football Manager 10.

It goes without saying that I have been playing for Tottenham, so I figured I’d write a guide to starting off as Spurs in the game.

The Squad

Goalkeepers
There’s no real need to get rid of either Gomes or Cudicini. Gomes, much like in real life, is a brilliant shot stopper and gets his hands on most crosses. However, also as in real life, he’s always liable to drop a clanger and has been responsible for at least four of the goals I’ve conceded in my current game (which is halfway through the season). Ultimately I will be looking to replace him with Igor Akinfeev from CSKA Moscow.

Cudicini is fine for back up and then there’s a glut of keepers in the reserves, who you might be able to flog to raise a bit of cash

Defenders
Again, the full backs don’t need much tinkering with. Corluka isn’t the best attacking option on the right, but he is valuable as he can cover as a centre back. Naughton looks like he could be very good, while on the left Assou Ekotto and Bale are very consistent.

I got rid of Hutton and brought in Diego Renan, who is a young Brazilian full back who can play on either flank. Eventually I will flog Ekotto, as he get’s a lot of attention from the top French teams and his value increases a fair bit in the first half of the season alone. I’ve also heard of people managing to flog Bale for £20m+, so that’s an option, though I’d rather keep him, as he counts as a Tottenham-trained player.

In the centre back department, you start off with just King and Bassong fit, although there is always Corluka as cover. As always seems to be the case with the Football Manager games, King isn’t nearly as good as he should be, but obviously I still never sell him.

One player I did sell was Woodgate, who is very injury prone. He became fit just before the transfer window closed, so I flogged him to Bayern Munich for £9m. He’s a decent player on the game, but not streets ahead of King and Bassong, so I sold him based on his age and injury record.

Dawson is fine and I’ve been mainly playing him against sides that will lump big balls through the middle. I also signed Nicolas Otamendi from Sao Paolo, who is a youngster who will develop into a fine defender.

Midfield
When you start off a game, you should find that Manchester City are interested in Huddlestone and Dos Santos. They will pay silly money for players and in my first game I picked up £26m for Dos Santos and in my second, £20m for Huddlestone. I’ve heard of people selling both for these fees, but you will need to get them transfer listed and offered around quick, before City start squandering their money on other players.

I always try to sell Jenas as well, as he’s not up to much. Bentley is worth keeping as cover for Lennon, unless you want to keep Dos Santos instead. There’s not much point in having all three around, as they won’t get much of an opportunity to play.

Modric is brilliant on the left and you will soon be fending off bids from all and sundry. Kranjcar is an able deputy, so there’s no need to bring anyone in there.

In the centre of midfield I would recommend Anthony Annan, who is a young Ghanain from Rosenburg, who I picked up for around £2.8m. He’s a good defensive player, who can also be played as a box to box midfielder and scores a few goals.

To replace Huddlestone, I was looking for a slow, ponderous midfielder, who could nevertheless ping a few balls around the park. Step forward David Beckham, who I signed for £700,000. He’s still a decent player and a great sub to bring on, with his free kick and corner taking abilities.

I’ve also signed Van Der Vaart, who is transfer listed at the start of the game and can be picked up for £7,500,000. He plays best an an attacking midfielder, but I play him alongside Palacios in the middle of the park, where he’s OK. I’ve signed him in previous games and always manage to at least double my money on him within a season or two, so here’s hoping.

Other players you might want to have a look at are Angelo Palombo at Sampdoria and Marek Hamsik at Napoli. Bostock is a decent prospect and one that’s worth looking after.

Strikers
My advice is to stick with the current four you have, as they’re all pretty good and it’s difficult to get decent money for Pavlyuchenko at the start of the game.

Crouch makes for a good target man and tends to be my top scorer, with Pav as his back up. Alongside either big man, I play Defoe as a poacher, or Keane as a trequartista, which is basically a fancy word for a second striker/playmaker.

Eventually I can imagine getting rid of everyone bar Crouch. My top summer target will be Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg.

Staff
The staff are pretty much all useless. I kept Clive Allen, Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond, as they’re the best of the coaches and more expensive to sack, but got rid of Jamie Redknapp, Sherwood and Ferdinand.

Having Tony Parks and Pat Jennings as goalkeeper coaches is overkill, but I can’t bring myself to sack either Tottenham legend. Why am I making sentimental decisions in a computer game? Pat is quite old, so hopefully he’ll retire in a season or two.

Bring back Ricardo Moniz to the club and then get yourself some decent fitness coaches and a couple of others with at least ‘Continental’ reputations and you should be fine.

Transfers
With the exception of Manchester City, it doesn’t look as if anyone else has got much cash to throw around. Gone are the days when you could put a squad player on the transfer list, double his value and expect to receive the asking fee up front.

Nowadays, everything is paid in installments. Sunderland especially, are interested in any player that you put up for sale at the start of the season, but will only pay piecemeal. This is fine, but it means that you have to do the same when purchasing players, or you’ll quickly blow all your available cash.

The other offer you will get a lot is to loan the player for a season, with the option to buy at any time. This isn’t a bad one, as you’ll normally pick up £1.5m to £2m for the season’s loan fee, so even if they don’t take up buying option, you’ll have still earned a bit.

Tottenham don’t start with a lot of money to spend. £8m is in the transfer kitty, so you’ll have to generate your own funds. There’s also a massive loan that kicks in early doors, which will drain a lot of cash, so get used to buying players in cheap and selling them for a big profit.

Tactics
I’m playing with a 4-4-2 formation that sees Lennon and Modric in advanced, wide attacking midfielder roles. Lennon is set as a winger, while Modric is an advanced playmaker.

Palacios is normally my combative defensive midfielder, with a more attacking option next to him. To make up for Modric drifting in-field, my left back is very attacking, while my right back sits back a bit more.

Short passes, fluid movement. The Spurs way.

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