Spurs 2008/9: Evaluating the players

Performance Analysis
I’m not going to bore you with some sort of unnecessary preamble.  I will simply say that Spurs have had an ok season and here’s what I think of each player’s individual performance.

The scale
I’ve rated all the players based on their performances through the season.  In a percentage of cases I saw the games, in a percentage of cases I saw highlights and in a percentage of cases I drew overall conclusions from media and fan reports. 

The player of the season won’t necessarily get 10 (and, in fact, doesn’t) but any mark over 8 indicates that they frequently made a key contribution to the side’s success.  We then slide down the scale in a fairly logical manner. 

10 – 8: Key contribution
7: Impressive
6: Useful
5:  Disappointing
4: Poor
3 – 0: Close the door on your way out

Heurleho Gomes
7 out of 10There was much mocking of the incompetent Brazilian goalkeeper in the opening months of the season with a series of high profile gaffes and repeated bungling undermining Spurs back line, contributing to the meagre 2 point total after 8 games.  Harry Redknapp’s arrival didn’t begin an immediate renaissance but he improved steadily and although his performance at Everton was shaky a few weeks ago he seems no more accident-prone than your average Premier League goalie.  May be only one mistake away from the sidelines but should be congratulated for the mental strength he showed to come back from his early season form.  His save in the first half of the 2-5 defeat at Man U from Ronaldo was world class.

Carlo Cudicini
00726_004Was brought in to replace Gomes during the January transfer window but soon found himself on the sidelines after an utterly horrendous performance at Hull in February (a game Spurs managed to win).  Was his last appearance and he may move on again this summer to find first team football.

Vedran Corluka
7 out of 10I’m not sure what position Corluka was brought in to challenge for but he found himself at right-back for most of the season.  His lack of pace was exposed at times but he’s a wily and silky player and has played well much of the time.  Has struggled at centre back when called in as emergency cover but has a role to play in the first team next season.

Alan Hutton
00726_005Hutton played just four league games before injury struck.  Returned in April and played in three further games.  Has not convinced me that he’s a top class right back but neither has he had a good run in the side.  Looks to have the attributes and may start as first-choice right back next season. 

Chris Gunter
00726_005The young Welsh defender is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest and he may end up staying there.  Played in seven UEFA Cup games for Spurs this season and acquitted himself well. Looks a good talent and I hope if he does play elsewhere next season it’s just on loan.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto  
7 out of 10No one expected the French left-back to cement a place in the first team, especially ahead of the highly-rated Gareth Bale.  But cement it he did and he turned out to be arguably the club’s most improved player this season.  Occasionally does daft things in his own penalty area but has notably held his own against none other than Cristiano Ronaldo – who is apparently the best player in the world.

Gareth Bale
00726_003Bale still has a lot of goodwill at the club with many fans seemingly happy to give him the benefit of the doubt in spite of his appalling performances.  His explosive start to last season suggests that he has a great top flight career ahead of him but he needs to find his misplaced confidence and quickly.  Interesting fact, he has featured in just four domestic games since the middle of January and three of them were against Man United.

Gilberto. Apparently.

00726_002Hard to believe the Brazilian wasn’t just released from his contract in January out of pity.  Has played just three times this season and in the first two games, so poor were his performances, he was substituted at half time for Aaron Lennon.  He got a final run-out in the second string team who drew with Shakhtar in February.  His days are numbered.


 Ledley King
00726_006It’s unthinkable that Ledley King might be moved on by the club but scurrilous newspaper stories have suggested just that following his nightclub altercation in recent weeks.  This is not the first time that King has been caught partying a little too hard and I’m glad the club have taken a tough stance with him.  His contract runs out at the end of next season and although the frequency and quality of his performances have been impressive this season, I expect any extension may be weighted by pay-as-you-play incentives.  But he’s appeared 28 times in all competitions this year and, interestingly, was only booked twice.

Jonathan Woodgate
00726_006I liked his signing at the time and he hasn’t let us down.  I’m reaching for wood here *cough* but in 16 months he has made 61 appearances for the club and rarely succumbed to injury.  His performances have been excellent in the main and his partnership with King (and indeed with Michael Dawson) has been as good as anything outside the top four (and maybe Everton).  Has the odd penchant for poor clearing headers but I’ve seen Rio do the same thing so let’s not get too hung up on it.

Michael Dawson
7 out of 10The turnaround in Michael Dawson’s career has been monumental.  After a great start under Martin Jol, Dawson suffered a poor season last year and started it abysmally this season.  Last year was so poor there was transfer talk sending him to Newcastle.  But under Harry Redknapp, Dawson retained his excellent standards and never let the side down with a series of dominating performances at centre back.  It’s just a shame that he will only feature intermittently while the Woodgate-King axis prospers.

Pascal Chimbonda
00726_004Buying back the erratic Frenchman was always a puzzling decision and, indeed, he has started just once in the league since January.  His strength might be in his versatility but given that he was unhappy being shunted around the back four in his previous stint one can only assume he was just happy to get away from Sunderland.  A good player on his day, those days are all too infrequent. 

Ricardo Rocha




Wilson Palacios
7 out of 10£12m was a lot of money to pay for a player who cost £1m a year earlier but his contribution to Spurs’ successful battle against relegation cannot be ignored.  He brought energy and enthusiasm to a previously-pedestrian midfield that could only boast the unreliable Didier Zokora as someone capable of upping a game’s tempo (and usually, after winning the ball, his second touch was to give it away).  Palacios’ season ended in tragedy when his brother was murdered.  He will have a first team place next season. 

Jermaine Jenas
4 out of 10As season after season passes, and Jermaine Jenas continually fails to impose himself in Premier League games, someone has to put their hand up and admit that he’s not really that good.  It seems that “potential” is used as a euphemism for “young and English” (c.f. David Bentley).  There’s no doubting his honesty but he just doesn’t influence a game in a way that a good central midfield player should be able to.  When he’s not scoring he has little use and this was, once again, a poor Jermaine Jenas season. 

David Bentley
3 out of 10I still maintain that Bentley isn’t all that great and never was.  He’s a passable player who did a job occasionally at Blackburn.  At Tottenham he’s shown a total inability to beat players, take a set piece or contribute meaningfully.  He played out of position sometimes but so what?  It’s not like he was centre back – he was just on the other side of the pitch.  Even when on the right he looked slow and short of inspiration. 

Tom Huddlestone
5 out of 10Hudd is an interesting dilemma.  He has the attributes of a top notch player in that he is confident, can spray the ball around and has a terrific shot on him.  But he also suffers laziness, complacency and inconsistency.  At times he’s sublime but at other times he has shockers.  I’m not sure he’ll survive a summer cull.  He’s a nice option from the bench but he’s not the sort of player to bring on when you need to infuse some energy when chasing a goal. 

Didier Zokora
6 out of 10Might seem a bit crazy to rate Zokora ahead of the cultured Huddlestone but there’s something enjoyable about his complete mentalness.  His inability to shoot straight and ability to roll a pass 10 yards short or wide of a team mate from 11 yards away is outrageous.  But his work rate is probably unsurpassed by anyone else at the club and his League Cup final performance was inspiring.  A useful player in small doses.

Aaron Lennon
8 out of 10After a great first season at Spurs in 2005/6, Lennon went off the boil for the next two – ironically he was still nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2006/7 but ignored (rightly) twelve months later.  But this season – presumably after a warning from then-boss Juande Ramos – Lennon is playing the best football of his career.  His much-criticised final ball has improved immeasurably and he’s weighed in with important goals too.  He’s only just turned 22 and he already has 209 career games to his name for Spurs and Leeds.  Spurs’ player of the year.

Luka Modric
7 out of 10Arsene Wenger called him ‘too lightweight’ and he’s probably half right.  Modric is quite lightweight.  Too lightweight?  Well it seemed that way early on but some of Luka’s performances in the second half of the season have been excellent.  He’s as prone to being invisible in a game as most gifted players are but that’s the downside of having someone with the creative brain like he does.  I hope we get another 12 months with him and Harry finds a way to get the best out of him more consistently.

Jamie O’Hara
6 out of 10Expectations are never high for O’Hara, a limited player with the ability to pull something special out from time to time.  But it’s the 22 year olds versatility, desire and occasional moment of magic that could see him become the David Howells of the 21st century.  It should be noted that in four years he has made just 15 league starts.

5 out of 10Some think the “diminutive” Mexican was unlucky not to feature more frequently but with Lennon and Modric regularly starting there wasn’t much room for the slightly-built midfielder.  Just six league appearances (with just one point attained from those games) quickly diluted all the pre-season excitement about Giovani who looked the real deal.  He’s done exceptionally well at Ipswich but I’d be surprised if he didn’t stay in a top flight league somewhere in Europe. 

Roman Pavlyuchenko
5 out of 10Pav’s season total of 14 goals seems ok but only 5 of them were in the league (where he made 19 starts) and a number of lethargic performances don’t seem to have endeared him to the management team.  He has a right to be lethargic given that he went from the Russian league to Euro 2008, back to the Russian league and then to the Premier League.  But even if he is a bit tired, his ineffectual ambling has soured too many performances.  Unfortunately for Pav, the last person to wear #9 and amble around the White Hart Lane pitch had the audacity to be utterly brilliant.

Darren Bent
A5 out of 10gain it seems the goals don’t tell the story.  Bent has netted 17 times this season, 12 of them in the league, but he still seems likely to be sold.  Redknapp’s rather crude assessment of Bent’s missed sitter against Portsmouth in January (“My missus could have scored that one”) indicated he was frustrated with the striker.  Although the two made up it seems Redknapp wants someone with more facets to their game.

Robbie Keane
R5 out of 10obbie went north and his career went south.  Confidence is such a fragile thing and Keane suffered greatly partly due to the lack of love Rafa Benitez had for him at Liverpool.  I wanted him to fail but that’s because I’m a dick. Now that’s backfired.  The Robbie Keane back at Spurs is a shadow of the one who was electrifying alongside Dimitar Berbatov for two years.  He’s scored a few goals and his early performances showed promise but overall Keane looks bewildered and frustrated.  He needs to sort his head out this summer.

Jermaine Defoe
6 out of 10I haven’t really rated Defoe since his first six months back in 2004 but he’s done ok since he has come back.  He has suffered injury and lost his half-brother in a street attack so it’s not been easy for him.  If he learns how to stay onside and becomes a more composed striker then Defoe will be useful – not sure about first choice though. 

Frazier Campbell
4 out of 10Campbell started well at Tottenham, lifting the team in a dire 0-0 draw with Wigan back in September.  But he never found his feet and frequently showed he didn’t have the physical presence for the Premier League yet.  His best moments were in the 4-2 League Cup win over Liverpool where he netted twice in a terrific performance.  But with only one appearance in three months he looks likely to move back to Old Trafford.  To think a £7m fee was being bandied about last August.

It’s logical to have a conclusion at the end of one of these things so please welcome this conclusion.  Its name is Brian.


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