I’ve found the situation with Jamie O’Hara very frustrating. Here is a young player who very much wants to play for Spurs and has always put everything into it when he does, yet hasn’t been given much in the way of opportunities.
This season he’s found himself out on loan at Portsmouth and whilst playing every week will help with O’Hara’s development, it’s been annoying to see him playing much better for Pompey than Jermaine Jenas has for Tottenham. With Huddlestone’s lack of mobility often an issue, there’s every reason to believe that O’Hara might have seen quite a lot of football at White Hart Lane this season.
The player is suggesting that he might have to leave Tottenham in the summer to find regular game time, but I for one hope that he is given one last season to try and establish himself at Spurs. If he’s still not in the team after that, then fair enough, we should cut our losses. At least then we’ll know one way or the other whether O’Hara can cut it at Spurs.
A lot of people say he’s just not skillful enough, but the same thing was said about Darren Fletcher at Manchester United a few years ago and look how he’s blossomed. Young players need to be given a chance and that means a steady flow of opportunities, not the odd appearance from the bench.
I think that at Spurs we’ve often been guilty of letting talented young players leave too early, before they’ve really had time to establish themselves. As a result we’ve often ended up looking silly as we’ve spent millions on players that aren’t as good as one’s that have developed through our youth system, but have then let go.
Here are 6 players that Spurs let go too soon.
A lot of people don’t think that Crouch is up to the job of playing for Tottenham, but what is undeniable is that it would have been preferable to hang onto a player that we eventually ended up paying £10m for.
Aged just 19, we let Crouch go for £60,000 to QPR. He made an immediate impact at Loftus Road and then went onto do well at Portsmouth, before Villa paid £5m to bring Crouch back to the top flight just two years after we’d let him go for peanuts.
It actually took Crouch a relatively long time to find his big feet in the Premier League, which he eventually managed during his spell at Southampton. So he would never have been a player that could have walked into Tottenham’s first team at an early age, but it would have been far more prudent to loan him around to a couple of lower league clubs before deciding he wasn’t up to it.
This was a tricky one, as the player wanted to leave Tottenham. Or rather, his much older wife was nagging a teenager to leave Spurs, as she wanted to live closer to their home town of Hull. Didn’t she know that it’s only a two hour train journey from King’s Cross?
Eventually he was granted a transfer to Middlesbrough, which isn’t actually that near to Hull, but at least allowed Mrs Barmby to live somewhere where she could get gravy on her chips.
Had he stayed at White Hart Lane, Barmby might have fulfilled his undoubted potential, which only blossomed occasionally as he drifted from club to club and never found a true home.
There was a time when the Norwich team might as well be called ‘Tottenham Reserves’. Letting the talented Ian Crook go to Carrow Road was regrettable but understandable, considering our midfield boasted Ardiles and Hoddle (a fate that also befell the skillful Micky Hazard). However, it was their back four that was painful for Tottenham fans to watch play.
Spurs youth products Ian Culverhouse and later John Polsten lined up in a Norwich defence which often looked far more stable that ours, but left back Mark Bowen was the player I was saddest to have seen left.
Confident in defence, with the ability to get forward, Bowen was certainly a lot better player than the likes of Mitchell Thomas and some of the other hopeless left backs that Tottenham have had to put up with. In total Bowen made 399 appearances for the Canaries.
Much like Mark Bowen, Luke Young hasn’t turned into a top, top player, but has consistently played better than those that followed him into White Hart Lane.
Young was allowed to move to Charlton, as he was unhappy at being played in the centre of defence rather than his favoured position of right back. The right side of our defence was then the property of Stephen Carr, another Tottenham youth product, so it was understandable that Young might believe that he would never get a proper chance at Spurs.
Of course, the minute Young was sold to Charlton, Carr picked up a serious injury and then eventually left us to line his medals cabinet at Newcastle (with dust). Young eventually went onto win his 7 England caps in 2005; a period in which Tottenham fielded such luminaries at right back as Noe Pamarot and Paul Stalteri.
Mounir El Hamdaoui
Having impressed with his scoring record at Excelsior, Mounir El Hamdaoui joined Tottenham aged 21. He was loaned out to Derby County in an effort to ease his way into English football and scored twice in 6 appearances, before picking up an injury. He returned to Derby later in the season and scored again, before getting another injury.
In this time he never made an appearance for Spurs and with the likes of Berbatov, Keane and Defoe ahead of him in the pecking order, we sold him to Willem II after just one season. We figured that as was the case with Jonathan Blondel, here was a gamble that the club had taken on a young player that didn’t pay off. No big deal.
This seemed to be the case as more injuries prevented any progress at Willem II and he joined AZ Alkmaar. Unfortunately El Hamdaoui then started scoring bucketloads of goals at Alkmaar, en-route to winning the Dutch title and is now one of the most coveted strikers in Europe. Whoops.
If every man can have a ‘one that got away’, so can every football club. The one that Tottenham let slip out of their grasp, was the 19-year old Graeme Souness.
Having signed as a Spurs apprentice in 1968, Souness grew frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities at White Hart Lane and even as a teenager, reputedly complained to Bill Nicholson that he was the best player at the club. Looking back with hindsight he was probably right.
With just a single Tottenham appearance to his name, Souness eventually joined Middlesbrough for £30,000, where he impressed enough to earn a transfer to reining European champions Liverpool. He won 5 league titles, 3 European cups and became the club captain.
You know how every old timer at White Hart Lane bemoans how we’ve never replaced Dave Mackay? Well we had the next best thing and let him walk away for want of giving him a chance. Can you imagine a Spurs midfield with the flair of Hoddle and Ardiles, combined with the tenacity of Souness?
The only upside of this is that at least we never had to endure Souness returning to us as manager.