Most Spurs fans would agree that 90% of the transfer talk this pre-season has been about which striker should leave and who we should bring in up front. But could Redknapp defer this ‘crisis’ by getting the best out of what we already have?
I think it is important that we do strengthen up front regardless of what our current strike force can offer. It is difficult to argue that Crouch, Defoe and Pavlyuchenko scored enough goals to hold down a place in a team once again pushing for a Champions League spot. But last year we saw a Dutch playmaker, originally signed as an attacking midfielder, rise to the top of the Spurs goal scoring charts, after a more than impressive start in the Premier League. Rafael Van der Vaart offered the class that had seen him dominate the Bundesliga and sign for Real Madrid, as well as a scoring record that none of our other forwards could come close to.
The 2009/2010 campaign saw us reach the Champions League Play-off spot with arguably a worse squad than the Tottenham team that finished fifth place a year later. The latter could have been put down to Manchester City’s huge improvement through their spending power. In my view, our downfall was mainly due to the fact that Jermain Defoe scored five times less goals in 2010/2011 than he did in the previous campaign. A 20-goal-a-season striker playing alongside VDV would have most likely seen us snatch the fourth spot for the second season in succession.
For me, however, faith should be kept in Defoe. Regardless of the fact he only conjured up four league goals last season, each of those goals were of the highest quality and it was evident to see that Jermain had not lost his touch. Whether it was a lack of confidence or the early season injury that saw the England striker’s goals dry up, I believe that Defoe has not lost what he had and should be backed to have a good season in Spurs shirt this coming campaign.
Fans’ views on Peter Crouch appeared to become more and more aggravated after every game last season. The 6ft 7 forward did however score a number of important goals – the hat-trick against Young Boys, strikes against both Inter and AC Milan – but, like most of our players, didn’t seem to perform in the league games that should have been won. Being sent off against Real Madrid and ruining our chances of success at the Bernabeu also didn’t help Crouch’s worsening reputation.
However, Crouchy very much aided Van der Vaart’s settling in period at the Lane, providing a number of assists for the Dutchman through headed knock-downs. If Defoe doesn’t manage to improve his recent goal scoring record, Crouch could be vital in once again assisting Van der Vaart as our main attacking force.
Finally, Russian hit-man Roman Pavlyuchenko once again had a somewhat inconsistent campaign, finishing the season strongly with a double against Birmingham but failing to impress for the majority of his games. With bags of technique, Pavlyuchenko does have the potential to be a key Spurs player, but if inconsistency continues to have stranglehold on his game, the Russian may find himself very much out of the team in the future.
Both Defoe and Crouch both came off the bench in our final pre-season friendly against Bilbao and impressed, scoring the goals that ended up winning the game for Tottenham. But with the Everton game unfortunately postponed, will Crouch get to prove himself as a strike partner for Defoe or VDV before possibly talking to Stoke about a move up north? And after more signs of lacking decisiveness in the first half against Bilbao, could Pav be on his way out?
If a striker were to leave, Redknapp and Levy would surely be in the market for a new front man. Whether it be Ruiz of Twente, or Rossi of Villarreal, the funds from a departing striker would hopefully be enough to bring in a new era of forwards at White Hart Lane. Alternatively, could the likes of Harry Kane and Souleymane Coulibaly be the answer to our problems if Redknapp were to give the pair an early chance?