Tottenham Making a Mistake If They Don't Replace Defoe

Nick Miller@NickMiller79Featured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane on January 11, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

And so, Jermain Defoe's month-long farewell tour at Tottenham began with a goal, with the Toronto-bound forward clipping in his side's second goal in their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

That goal in itself should not necessarily have Spurs fans worried about what they will be missing when Defoe heads to Major League Soccer, given that it was his first league goal of the season, with his other strikes coming in the Europa League group that Tottenham walked.

However, that doesn't mean to say that Spurs are better off without him, and that he should not be replaced. After the game, Tim Sherwood told the assembled press that he would not be actively seeking a new striker once Defoe leaves. As quoted by, Sherwood said:

“Jermain is different because I know him and he knows the league. I’m not saying we won’t bring someone else in, but we’re not looking to. The last thing you want to do is bring in someone who doesn’t know the league. By the time they settle, the bell has gone.”

Sherwood made a valid point, perhaps inspired by the collection of players at his disposal that have taken their time to adapt to football in England, but the extension of his logic is that a team should never sign a player from another country because they might take some time to adapt.

While Sherwood didn't absolutely rule out signing a striker, this does tally with his previous remarks about this being a quiet transfer window for Spurs, but it would be a mistake not to recruit someone, even if it is a temporary option until the end of the season.

Against Palace on Saturday, Spurs were frankly lucky to get away with a win, so bad was their first half performance. Were it not for Jason Puncheon's comically bad penalty, they would have been at least one goal behind at half-time, and a lot of that wasn't helped by Sherwood's approach. For a manager who has preached that football is a simple game, they are not getting the simple things right. 

There's an old line about the key difference between English and Spanish players being that when a teammate has the ball, the latter move towards him and the former run away, into the space. That applied to Tottenham' against Palace, with no Spurs player seemingly keen to move in any sort of constructive way, not offering a colleague a viable option. Simple stuff, and much of their static play wasn't helped by their strikers, who were very isolated.

This brings us back to Defoe. With Sherwood seemingly keen to play two up front, Spurs need an option for when Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor don't perform, which for the former has been for much of the season, and the latter will probably happen shortly. History teaches us that Adebayor does well when he is playing for something, be that a contract or to prove a point, as he has been in the last few weeks.

Even with an underperforming Defoe, Spurs probably needed a striker, so after his departure they will could potentially only have two out of form forwards to survive the last few months of the season.

Of course, January is not necessarily the time to spend big on a game-changing striker, but it would be a mistake if Spurs and Sherwood did not at least bring in some reinforcements by the end of the month.