For the major part of this season we have witnessed a healthy battle between our two Croatian midfielders Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric for the left side position. However, a number of factors are beginning to contribute to a case for a changing of the guard at this crucial stage of the season with a Champions League place and the F.A. Cup still within our reach. I’m asking myself if Harry’s best move could in fact be an omission of the pair of them.
When Kranjcar arrived last summer it was a shrewd and logical move from Harry, offering us an experienced Premiership player who could offer both cover and competition to his pint-sized compatriot.
Modric of course reacted in constructive fashion and was certainly at the heart of much of our good early-season work, offering hope that he would fulfil the potential and hype that came with his signing following a modest but promising first season. Yet, since returning from injury, Modric’s season hasn’t quite caught fire in the way we expected, certainly following the goal (his one and only to date this season) against West Ham at the turn of the year.
Despite his diligence and industry he has tended to ‘go missing’ once too often when we needed the spark in Lennon’s absence. Kranjcar, on the other hand, has been more constructive in the sense that he has been more apparent in the games and has at least contributed six goals in all competitions thus far.
On the occasions when he played a Croat on either flank we look unbalanced and much too narrow; the miserable performance at Anfield offering up an immediate and painful reminder of this. Neither player has stamped his authority on the position and the pair’s frustrating inconsistency has led to Harry’s constant swapping between the two.
So with this in mind, coupled with the return of Assou-Ekotto and the magnificent performances of Gareth Bale since his return to the side, I feel we should consider a slight change of plan on the left side and promote the young Welshman to left-sided midfielder.
Bale has clearly been our outstanding player for the last five or six weeks and it would be interesting to see how much more he could contribute in a more advanced position without having to sprint back eighty or ninety yards after every forward charge. It would offer up a new problem for the opposition and perhaps even arm our Croatians with more determination and motivation to make the difference in the form of substitute appearances.
Spurs have some huge teams to play in the run-in and it could just be that Gareth Bale represents our most lethal weapon. Of course, when golden boy Aaron Lennon returns there’s the undeniably exciting prospect of Lennon on the right and Bale on the left; width, pace, purpose and energy; just what we need to help us break the big four and take back our F.A. Cup.