Deal with it

Negotiate this!

White Hart Lane is awash with transfer speculation once again, sadly much of it revolving around our out-of-contract stars, Sol Campbell, Darren Anderton and Les Ferdinand. Obviously when it comes to Solman, it’s a no-brainer. Give him the contract he wants, show him you have ambition and sign some good players to play with him.

But what’s the big story surrounding Anderton and Ferdinand? Apparently David Pleat has assured fans that all will be done to try and keep the pair at the club. I’d have to ask…why? It’s time to ship out these sub-par players.

Dazza Automatic (hardly new and improved)

Once one of the brightest talents in British football, now a crippled, self-important, has-been. Darren Anderton burst on to the scene with a memorable performance in the 1992 FA Cup semi-final where he starred for Portsmouth against Liverpool. Spurs saw his ability and paid £1.75m for him on the 3rd of June 1992.

After a slow start, Anderton’s rise at Spurs can be traced back to the memorable 4-2 win over Southampton in 1993, in which Spurs came from behind to score 4 goals in 6 minutes. Anderton bagged one of them and the look of joy and relief on his face was obvious. From there his confidence grew and he went on to appear in a second consecutive FA Cup semi-final, where Spurs lost 0-1 to Arsenal, before having two more outstanding seasons.

But injury overtook his career and a string of long-term injuries blighted much of the next three years at Spurs. Amazingly Anderton, who attracted the name ‘Sicknote’ at this point, still managed to get fit during the summer and made memorable contributions for England in Euro 96, a 1997 friendly competition, and World Cup 98.

Extension

Last season, Anderton signed a one-year contract, the cynics say because interest from other teams was non-existent, and now with that one expiring, the cycle looks set to repeat itself. Anderton has stayed relatively fit in the last 15 months (but ironically is injured presently), but his form has been patchy, to be kind. Again interest in him is low – mediocre Premiership teams like Middlesboro and Aston Villa the only ones to show an interest it seems.

But David Pleat is eager to hang on to the undoubtedly talented midfielder and I’m not so sure it’s the best course of action. At 29, Anderton is going to be looking for the last major contract of his career – probably a 4 year deal with at least 30k a week initially, probably increasing to 35-40k depending on the markets and his performances in the future.

His last few seasons have seen his form dip, and as he moves into his thirties, things are unlikely to improve consistently. His injury problems are likely to get worse if anything, and paying a player with his record a sum like that is a huge mistake.

Sir Les

But even more pressing, is the need to release our life-long Spurs fan, Les Ferdinand. The 34 year old, 6′ striker joined Spurs in the summer of 1997 for a ludicrous £6m. Prior to this season he had made just 46 starts in three years, netting 12 goals. But that isn’t Les’ greatest crime – that is his lack of actual ability.

I’m all for a big strong striker, after all Niall Quinn has long been a favourite of mine when playing for Ireland. But while I can’t argue that Les’ best days are behind him, I do argue that they were never actually much good anyway.

His prolific record for QPR, and then for Newcastle, came during his prime, and as impressive as his prior goalscoring record is, he adds little else to the mix. The most annoying elements of his play are his lack of ball control or passing ability, inability to intelligently use the ball (ie effective knockdowns to a partner etc) and just a general slow, pedestrian amble around the pitch.

Twilight

I know he’s 34 and in the famous ‘twilight’ of his career, but good God, Gianfranco Zola, Teddy Sheringham, Mark Hughes, Niall Quinn and Ian Wright were/are effective at that stage of their career – certainly more so than Les.

The talk is of offering him a new one year deal. But if it means he’ll be hanging around the first team frame hindering the progress of younger talents or perhaps giving a false impression of strength-in-depth up front and stopping the signing of a better player, then he ain’t worth it.

Sell ‘Em All!

If Spurs are to mount a serious challenge next season (and that’s what ENIC need to do for the sake of the fans, and in order to keep Sol Campbell), then we need better quality players and the likes of Ferdinand and Anderton off the wage bill. There are other players that I’m not happy about having in the first team (Iversen, Sherwood, Freund, Perry, for example) but over the next 12 months I hope we replace them and eventually sell them on.

The only reason for giving Anderton and Ferdinand new deals is so we might get a transfer fee, but is it worth the hassle? Anderton is only going to bag about £3m now, and Ferdinand is probably only worth a sixth of what we paid for him. Add in the paying off of their contract, bonus payments and whatever loyalty clauses are inserted, and it’s just a waste of time.

Good luck to them in the future, but may it be elsewhere.

And finally…

The FA Cup Semi-Final beckons. It hasn’t been an easy ride for Spurs. Three away victories over Blackpool, Charlton and West Ham, coupled with the slaughter of Stockport, indicates that their cup form is not to be sniffed at. But the hard work must continue if Spurs are to make another return to a major final.

Spurs last FA Cup Semi-Final was in 1999, when Newcastle beat us 2-0 at Old Trafford. Actually Spurs played very well, but numerous missed chances proved to be their downfall and it was a hard defeat to take for the fans.

Hopefully the players have learned from that experience and the quality, but inconsistent, Arsenal team can be despatched with the trademark hard work and organisation that has got the team to where it is in the competition.

My prediction is that we will lose the game narrowly. I think it’ll be a good battle, but there isn’t enough quality and without a lot of luck, I see us being very fortunate to progress.

I live in hope though.

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