Five Problems Harry Redknapp Must Resolve in the Offseason
Whatever the outcome of Tottenham Hotspur's remaining two Premier League fixtures, Harry Redknapp's mobile phone bill will be big this summer, as he and chairman Daniel Levy look to fix one or two issues in the postseason.
Of course, if Tottenham were to secure a positive result on Wednesday night at Eastlands and hold their nerve to dispatch Burnley at Turf Moor—both of which are far from easy missions—manager Redknapp's eyes would light up at the thought of possible transfer budgets and targets.
If it transpires that Tottenham lose out to Manchester City and finish in fifth place, it will be more difficult to attract any world class players to White Hart Lane this summer.
But what exactly are the issues that Spurs need to find a fix to?
Will Gareth Bale Out Benoit?
The left full-back position has been the subject of much debate among Tottenham supporters this season.
While Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto has often proved to be an excellent choice, he is also prone to making silly mistakes and foolish challenges, notably in recent weeks at Manchester United and Sunderland.
When Gareth Bale, arguably the Player of the Season at White Hart Lane, has needed to play in defense he has shown a lack of experience and tactical nouse. He is undoubtedly more comfortable further up the field at this stage of his career.
However, with increased competition next season in central midfield, the manager may ask Luka Modric to drift infield from the left wing with Bale overlapping the Croat from defence.
Is Woodgate Worth the Worry?
After visiting specialist American surgeons in the New Year, Johnathan Woodgate confirmed that he would miss the remaining three months of the season in the hope that he could find a fix for a troublesome groin injury which could threaten to bring an end to the former Real Madrid center-back's career.
At 30 years of age and with only three games under his belt this season, Woodgate must fear for his Spurs career—especially in the light of the improvement of Ledley King's fitness and Michael Dawson's outstanding form.
Redknapp brought in Sebastian Bassong and Younes Kaboul last season as cover for both King and Woodgate but, despite the numerous injuries which have depleted Tottenham's central defenders, does it make commercial sense for chairman Daniel Levy and footballing sense for Redknapp to continue to pay Woodgate's hefty pay packet and medical care?
With Vedran Corluka and Tom Huddlestone more than capable of playing at centre-back at stop-gap solutions, it seems foolish not to consider agreeing some sort of severance deal with "Woody."
Modric: Jack of All Trades, Master of Any?
While this subtitle may seem grossly unfair to Luka Modric, it seems that Harry Redknapp is still unsure of how and where the Croat should fit into his team.
Often deployed on the left in a fluid role, Modric can find himself drifting in and out of the game and his talent may be wasted hugging the touchline. When he has been shifted infield, Modric has held his own, retained the ball with guile and gusto, but failed to really unlock the top defences.
Nevertheless, Modric has showed that he is perhaps Tottenham's most talented midfielder and Levy will be keen to reward some stellar performances in recent weeks with a new, improved contract—especially with Sir Alex Ferguson circling like a vulture ready to lure a third high-profile Spur to Old Trafford.
With Jamie O'Hara returning from Portsmouth on loan high on confidence and in good form and Brazilian international midfield enforcer Sandro on the plane to London from Internacional, Tottenham will need to sell a couple of their midfielders to balance the squad.
While Jermaine Jenas and Jamie O'Hara are likely to lose out in such a scenario, Levy may incur the wrath of Redknapp by sounding out potential bids from foreign Champions League clubs who will be drawn by Modric's relative youth, versatility and talent on the ball.
Precocious Talents or Selfish Mercenaries
Adel Taarabt and Giovani Dos Santos polarize opinion among the White Hart Lane faithful like no other Spurs player.
The Moroccan Taarabt, sent on loan to Championship team Queens Park Rangers for the entire season, has wavered from the ridiculous to the sublime. Often accused of trying to beat teams on his own and failing to track back to fulfill his defensive duties, Taarabt was also cited in the media as the man behind manager Paul Hart's premature exit earlier this season as QPR boss.
Dos Santos's arrival two years ago from Barcelona caused much excitement among Tottenham fans. After all, here was a bright, young international player of high calibre who signed off from the Nou Camp with a La Liga hat-trick.
"Gio" has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, with his love for the capital's night life irking Juande Ramos and Harry Redknapp. Although he impressed while on loan at Ipswich last season, he has failed to reproduce his international form for Mexico while on loan at Galatasaray this season.
While Dos Santos will be able to prove his worth on the biggest stage in the world next month, the Spurs board are likely to see his involvement in the World Cup as no more than a shop window which can only serve to increase the player's resale value. Taarabt is also likely to be through the exit doors.
Unfortunately for both, Kranjcar, Lennon and Modric have all enjoyed excellent seasons at White Hart Lane, while David Bentley has rediscovered some form and Danny Rose is seen as a player with a big future.
Earlier in the season, it seemed that Tottenham strikers could do no wrong.
In August, Jermain Defoe hammered a violent hat-trick away to Hull. This followed a two-goal Man-of-the-Match performance off the bench for England in a friendly match against a strong Holland team. These performances led to Defoe being named as Premier League Player of the Month as Tottenham surged to the top of the table. The FIVE goals which Defoe scored against Wigan marked the peak of Defoe's form.
The following month, Irish international Robbie Keane scored four in a 5-0 rout of Burnley. In the same month, Peter Crouch incredibly became the third forward on the books at White Hart Lane to score three goals or more in a game.
More recently, it was the turn of overlooked Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko to grab the headlines. Starting with two crucial goals at Wigan Athletic in February, Pavlyuchenko found the net 10 times in just nine matches. Birmingham were undoubtedly aggrieved at having baulked at Tottenham's £15 million asking price in January as the Russian became the league's in-form player for two months.
Nevertheless, all has gone quiet recently for Tottenham's array of strikers.
Robbie Keane, disheartened by a lack of first-team action, has relished his responsibilities as his boyhood club Celtic's go-to man since he made a loan move to the Glasgow club in January; just last week, he was named Player of the Year for the club.
Back at the Lane, Crouch, Defoe and Pavlyuchenko have all found goals hard to come by in the last few games. In fact, the England duo often seem to be doing their best to persuade Fabio Capello that they are not up to it. Pavlyuchenko has seen less playing time, but his woeful injury-time miss against Chelsea last month suggested that he has regressed.
What Next for Tottenham?
So...a few problems for Tottenham management to contend with as the season draws to a close.
If Champions League football does come to N17 next season, it is possible that the likes of O'Hara, Keane, Jenas, and Pavlyuchenko may have played their last game for the club, as Redknapp will look to recruit players with a tougher mentality and more Champions League experience.
If Tottenham finish fifth and qualify for the Europa Cup, Redknapp will find it difficult to persuade this campaign's superstars Dawson, Lennon, and Modric that their future lies with his team.
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