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Silly Season

I know someone who is keeping close tabs on all the players Spurs have been linked with in the media since Glenn Hoddle’s appointment, and at current count it has spiralled up to well over fourty. How many of these have been signed?

Three.

With the squad in need of beefing up, this is not a bad start. But what of the three players that are signed?

Bunji

Although still not confirmed, it is likely that Yugoslavian defender, Goran Bunjevcevic, will move to Tottenham this summer. After agreeing a transfer fee in excess of £4m, the Red Star Belgrade player is still awaiting his work permit, but this should follow shortly as he has gained 15 international caps.

Hopes for Bunjevcevic are not particularly hight amongst fans who are still burnt by the signing of little-known Swiss defender, Ramon Vega in 1997. Vega will be fondly remembered for the saving tackle on Emile Heskey that effectively set up Spurs to win the 1999 Worthington Cup, but will be not so best remembered for a string of particularly offensive performances in defence.

Also worth considering is that the 28 year old Bunjevcevic, who won his first cap three years ago, has not amassed a lot of appearances for his country. With Yugoslavia not exactly a hot bed of talent (although still a very good side), one might expect the stopper to have accumulated more caps at this point.

It all points towards a lot of uncertainty.

Success Potential Percentage: 65%

Sheri

The surprising but rather welcome return of Mr Teddy Sheringham! His departure in the summer of 1997 miffed quite a lot of Spurs fans who roundly booed him on any return he made to the Lane. The self-professed Spurs fan has managed to collect numerous medals during his spell at Manure, and having got that out of his system, is ready to finish off his career by pushing his beloved team back into Europe.

Although gutted when Sheringham left, there was no point having an unhappy player at the club. I loathed him for leaving to join my most disliked rivals, but was proud of his success there, and delighted that he proved all the knockers wrong. He turned out to be one of Alex Ferguson’s best buys of recent years (certainly far better values than the combined £20m for the mediocre pair of Cole and Yorke).

Now he is back, what can we expect from the 35 year old forward? The old cliché, but never a player to rely on pace, we’ll still see practically the very best from Teddy. His last season at Spurs was clouded by a seeming lack of application, probably due to his burning ambition to win trophies and his obvious frustration at the way the club was run by Alan Sugar. Under Glenn Hoddle we will see a motivated and productive Sheringham, and hopefully a dozen odd league goals to propell us up the table.

On the downside, he’s not getting any younger and we’ll probably get two years maximum out of him. Injuries will probably take their toll too, and I would be surprised if Sheringham plays 25 league games.

Success Potential Percentage: 85%

Gus

For my money, the best deal so far. With perhaps the exception of Zola, Poyet has been Chelsea’s outstanding player in the last 4 seasons. After falling out of favour with new boss Claudio Ranieri (hey, he was only following all the other players examples), Poyet handed in a transfer request which was granted rather quickly.

An initial fee of £1.25m, followed by a payment of £1m based on appearances, represents wonderful value for money and gives Spurs their first truly creative midfielder of undoubted ability since Paul Gascoigne.

Poyet has not been without his injury problems in his career, including cruciate ligament damage in 1998., but has returned to form and fitness since then. However, with Spurs wonderful treatment room attendence record, you have to fear when you of a record such as his.

On the plus side, Poyet is a wonderfully talented player and gives Spurs ‘options’ that they haven’t had in the middle of the park for some time. Is he past his best? Maybe. Is he good enough for Spurs? Definitely.

Success Potential Percentage: 90%

Next Seasons Top XVI – Take I

Through the summer, I’m going to identify my starting XI and top five substitutes based on those players available. After the three recent signings, here is how I would like to see a fully fit squad line out for our opening game next season.

Sullivan
Perry Bunjevcevic Gardner
Carr Tarrico
Anderton Davies
Poyet
Sheringham Rebrov
Walker Doherty Sherwood Iversen King

Formation

Tottenham are without experienced wingers, but do have nifty attacking full-backs, so the current personnel suits a 3-5-2 much more I think.

Defence

In defence, the wings will be patrolled by Stevie Carr and the returning Mauricio Tarrico, who just gets the nod ahead of the mysterious Ben Thatcher. Hopefully Thatcher can regain his confidence and form and challenge Tarrico during the season. In the back three we have a rich selection of players. With youngsters Gardner, King, Thelwell and Doherty to choose from, the best thing to do is phase them in at different times given them all experience alongisde the erratic but capable Chris Perry, and the new signing, Bunjevcevic. Missing out is Luke Young, who might always find himself a second-class citizen amongst the current squad.

Midfield

This will be still a troubled area for Tottenham despite the signing of Poyet and possible retention of Darren Anderton and Tim Sherwood. Simon Davies deserves to be a first team regular, perhaps alternating him with Sherwood from time to time. Despite my firm dislike of Darren Anderton, if we’re paying him, we might as well play him. We’ll see how long that lasts. Ahead of those two will be new signing Poyet, slipping in neatly behind the front two to pick up the play and create for those around him. Missing out will be Steffen Freund (third rate, but likable), Stephen Clemence (not good enough), Oyvind Leonhardsen (off form), Willem Korsten (he’ll get opportunities to prove himself during the season) and Matty Etherington (another season developing with the odd first team appearance will benefit him).

Forward

At last some class for Rebrov to play with. Iversen, Armstrong and Ferdinand are just not good enough, but Teddy Sheringham is. The Sheri/Sergei combination could prove to be dynamite and with Gus loading the gun behind th0em, this could be as potent as Tottenham have been in 6 seasons. While Iversen and Ferdinand will no doubt get some chances during the season, Armstrong should move on with our best wishes, Dave McEwen may not make the grade and Steve Ferguson will continue to improve in the reserves.

So that’s how it looks to me right now but hopefully the arrivals are not finished. As we move out some unwanted talent (that in my opinion is Freund, Sherwood, Armstrong and Ferdinand), another top striker, left-full and midfielder come in.

Time for ENIC to put their money where their sizeable mouth is.

And finally…

Right it’s official, the football world has gone mad. Francis Jeffers makes the move from Everton to Arsenal for, ahem, £10m. Frank Lampard travels to Stamford Bridge for £11m. Like, what?

I would have thought that foreign managers like Ranieri and Wenger would have more sense. Jeffers is a decent player but he’s only played 60 league games in his career and is regularly injured. Lampard is just average. Now maybe Claudio can make a good player come out of Frankie, but he’ll be doing well to achieve this.

I shouldn’t criticise people who obviously have a lot more ability for spotting talent than I do, but I’m puzzled as to why managers pay twice the money for players half as good as are available elsewhere. Kanoute cost West Ham £4.5m, DiCanio cost them £2.5m. Pires was £6m, as was Viduka at Leeds. Each of those players are far better than Lampard or Jeffers but cost much more. Why? Because they are young and English.

This is your money they are blowing. Maybe the abolition of transfer fees will be a good idea.

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