The summer transfer window has for Spurs so far been equivalent to a disconcertingly long and awkwardly silent pause; occasionally, this peace has been punctuated with occasional panics regarding potential sales of key players, with the most recent being the feted Chelsea move for Luka Modric.

On this front, so far, no (real) news has been good news, and in this respect the best result appears to be that Rafael van der Vaart has not been linked with any possible moves away from the club just yet. Indeed, judging by comments he has made throughout the season and beyond, it seems instead that van der Vaart is here to stay, and now it is time to build the team around the specialist skills he can bring to the Lane.

If this season has taught us absolutely nothing else, I feel we should take away insight into Rafa’s proper role as the main lesson. He is, more than anything else a playmaker who should be played in an advanced role just behind the striker. His first touch, vision and finishing prowess make him a perfect centre forward, a point exemplified by moments throughout the season such as Redknapp’s decision to allow him to finish the first half of the Real Madrid match at the Bernabau as a lone forward.

It is for all these reasons that I am absolutely baffled at the way van der Vaart has been slotted into some of the tactics deployed throughout the last months of the campaign. Playing Crouch and Pavlyuchenko up front as part of a 4-4-2, which Redknapp opted to on multiple occasions towards the end of the season, makes absolutely no sense to begin with- with two poachers on the field Spurs tend to display a clear lack of ideas in the face of goal.

Even more importantly, however, the formation implies that van der Vaart is wasted in a right midfielder role which stifles his ability to play to his strengths- he lacks the pace of Aaron Lennon, and forcing him to break in from the wing prevents him from displaying that magical ability to pop up in the right place at the right time to apply the finish. Rafa’s uncomfortable outlook to playing on the right wing has been illustrated by a number of drifting, less convincing performances.

By contrast, 4-4-1-1 has been the setup deployed in some of Spur’s most prolific wins this year. It is the formation that places van der Vaart in his proper role and permits him to serve in the correct way as an assistant to the striker or as a hitman in the face of goal.

No matter who ends up spearheading our attacks next season, be in Leandro or Drogba, we must ensure that Rafa’s quality as an advanced playmaker in the centre of the field is respected, and that tactics are structured around letting the key player provide the key contributions that he is capable of offering.



  1. If we had defoe scoring 19 goals last season like he did in the previous we would be in the top4

    To have come 5th with our strikers not scoring, shows you how good this squad is.

    Keep are best players, get Damiao and a 40mil striker, break the wage limit for him and get champs league next season. No llorente, No Forlan, No Gervinho No Thank you

  2. Rafa is a top player. Taarabt is an even better player. Spurs would be better getting Taarabt back and giving him the role. Krancjar could also slot into this role, in the Europa league.

    • Thats got to be a sick joke saying Taarabt is better then VDV, why do you think we sold him he can’t cut it in the premier league we get 40% of the fee QPR get for him so its all good

  3. I agree Rafa is the man, he never had a pre season and was put straight into the first team playing alongside a list of underperforming strikers.

    He got endless assists and goals, including single handedly destroying Arsenal on two occasions, setting up all 3 goals in the 3-2 win at the emirates including winning and scoring a penalty and then scoring another 2 against them in the 3-3 draw.

    He is up there with Modric and therefore the team should revolve around these 2.

  4. Really good article. I think the way forward for us is to primarily use 2 of Sandro/Hudd/Moddle in a deeper lying midfield role. Then 3 of VDV/Lennon/Bale/Moddle as three in front. I noticed Leandro scored again for Inter last night and played bloody well. I am sure it is a done deal for him. The question remains whether he will be here for the start of the season or (more likely) January. VDV is a magical player, and i am sure he will be even better this season now that he has settled down. However, his “main man i’v got to be the centre of attention attitude” even though a vital part of what puts him in the world class bracket, ideally, needs to be tuned down a bit.

  5. Benzema, Leandro, Cahill and Hazard. Pav and Keane out alongside Bentley, Hutton, Jenas, O`Hara and maybe Dos Santos if Harry won`t play him. Keep Defoe, Crouch, Palacios, Kranjcar and the others.

    • Crouch needs to go he is a joke he can’t shoot he is the worst player i have ever watched live i hate him he is awful.

  6. I still think that we should go for huntelar I have never seen a dutch player not play well in the premiership, and rafa could surely persuade him.

    • And they have played together for Ajax and Real Madrid and the national team! Either him or Benzema to be our proper striker!

    • I also would love to get Huntelaar, although it might be difficult since Schalke just picked him up last season and they’re wanting to build.

      It would be kind of interesting since VdV seems to be second choice to Sneijder (Netherlands squad selection, not my opinion) and Huntelaar seems second to van Persie.
      Now who’s the second choice CB for Netherlands…?

  7. no idea how i ended up reading this rubbish.

    a high mid-table team with fans clamouring for ‘…drogba, benzema, hazard, damiao’. meanwhile, back in the real world…

    expect another attempt at signing p. neville and maybe scott parker. to replace the departing modric.

  8. We did and it didn’t work, his ego is far greater than his talent as has been clearly proved at every club he was at before us..and now he is at spurs…

  9. Rafa is a great creative player but Taarabt has far better dribbling ability and the pace which Rafa lacks. Taarabt also has alot more tricks to get passed players. Taarabt can play anywhere across the midfield and behind the main striker. Rafa didn’t look so great on the right and can only be effective behind the main striker. It is a shame that Taarabt was only given a few substitute appearances. Why shouldn’t he get frustrated with that? He may have shown arrogance but most of that was an outlet for his frustration. Better to have a player who is confident of their own abilities than one who is unconfident. I hope that Krancjar doesn’t get treated the way he did last season. If so, he would be better off leaving Spurs, which is another waste of talent.

    • And is totally lacking in intelligence, too big an ego for such little talent and above all, it’s a team game, not a side show for individuals to play for themselves. You first have to win the game, then make the most of your victory!

  10. 4-3-3 play possesion football do not give the ball away, with Sandro, Hudd & Modric in midfield, Lennon, VDV & Bale up front with all given licence to get forward and score goals.

    We can always switch to 4-4-2 by making a substitution.

  11. No offence steve but you’re completely wrong mate. Taarabt has been playing in the championship and got 19 goals in 44 games, vDV got 13 goals in 28 games in his 1st season and 7 assists. massive gulf in class. Do you think Taarabts better than jack wilshere as well, because a lot of gooners were saying that JW was better than vDV until vDV showed him to a master class at WHL and i think JW is better than Taarabt (although different positions in midfield) Dont be fooled by Taarabt, he has the raw potential to make it to the big time, BUT HE NEVER WILL, he hasnt got the attitude to do it, Warnock wouldn’t even let his players give him the ball in their own half, he would get punished in the premiership for all his flashy crap, and this is coming from an admirer of Taarabt.

    • I’m a fan of Taarabt but think QPR is a good fit for him. He’s a good player and with time might become really good; I don’t see him starting every game for Spurs, though, and that seems to be what he needs.

      QPR built their team around him and seem to have told him as much. Some players need that affirmation to perform and being the star player for a smaller club (no offense to QPR) will do it.

      He was and is technically able to help Spurs but he’d never have the team built around him like Modric or we’re talking about doing with VdV.

      Ben Arfa for Newcastle seems almost exactly the same situation (good player that needs the club to focus on them for them to perform at their best).

  12. VDV, in the role he occupies comes too deep and does absolutely nothing for our strikers. Almost all of our strikers goals came 4-4-2. No surprise there. VDV and Huntelaar are generally not on the pitch at the same time for Holland for the same reason. 2 goals from open play in his last 18 starts and 3 assists. That’s what we’re going to build around. Take away the Crouch knock downs and penalties and I think you’re looking at a season of 5 goals. To build around VDV would be insane, but then if you’re going to do it, start again. 4 new strikers and a manager with a better insight than Mourinho who also couldn’t really see a spot for him in the “team” game and we’ve got something. Find all that and we’ve got a chance. If we play 4-5-1 again with VDV in the middle, 1 win in 13 might seem ambitious. COYS

  13. Why is nobody worried about our real lack of defence. Assou not good enough, dawson not good enough, king too injury prone, bassong not good enough, corluka not played in the right position and still not good enough, walker good but untested in title dreaming team, hutton needs no other words. Of all our defence how many do you think would walk into any top 4 team in Europe? i agree we need a pretty much entirely new strikeforce but unless we plan on scoring 5 goals every game we need a new defence.


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