Tottenham FC: Predictions About the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
With warm summer weather, sun tans and swim trunks comes an exciting transfer window and the new Premiere League season. There has been so much drama about Fabregas to Barcelona and Sneijder to United, not to mention Modric to Chelsea, that a writer can barely keep his head on straight.
Well we're not here to discuss transfer rumors and feed the gossip monster. Instead, let's talk predictions. Specifically, predictions about Spurs and their upcoming season. This season will probably be one of the most important seasons ever for the Lillywhites.
The players from White Hart Lane are tasked with overturning a disappointing 2010-2011 and solidifying themselves as one of the Premiere League's top four favorites. After a salivating sample of Champions League football and now having to take a year off, Spurs want it back.
An all-too-common question on the tip of everyone's tongue is "Will Tottenham be another flash in the pan and then sink back into mid-table misery?" I am here to confidently (and hopefully) answer no. Spurs are here to stay.
Now let's look at why.
The Good: Gareth Bale and Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Clive Rose/Getty Images
For the 2010-2011 season, these boys got it done. Tottenham's left flank was a well-oiled machine for much of the season thanks to Bale and Assou-Ekotto. Who would've thought a Wales-Cameroon connection could work so well?
By now, everyone knows the name Gareth Bale. Is he overrated? Yeah, probably. Eighty million pounds is a healthy overestimate of his worth. Is he still really good? Most certainly.
This year was his breakout year and he rarely disappointed. He didn't score a hat trick in every game, especially as a left midfielder, but that's fine. He's not supposed to pull that off every time he laces his boots. His job on the wing is to rack up consistently positive performances and support his teammates by providing good deliveries and exceptional passing. Anyone that expects him to be a leading scorer is off their rocker.
Perhaps the lesser-known name on Spurs' left wing is Benoit Assou-Ekotto. If I were to look up consistency in the dictionary, I would find a picture of Assou-Ekotto.
Being a left-back is perhaps one of the more thankless jobs on the pitch. Everyone expects a left-back to do his job well at the minimum. Anything less than that is seen as a sub-par performance. Assou-Ekotto is a player that could easily be forgotten on the pitch which, for his position, is a good thing. That means that he always handles his tasks and doesn't make many big errors.
As far as doing the job consistently day after day, Benoit Assou-Ekotto has to be considered one of the major positives in this Tottenham team.
Assuming neither of them are sold, they are going to check in with some solid performances this season. I predict that Assou-Ekotto will slowly taper off toward the end of the season and in the next year or so, Tottenham will be searching for a replacement.
Bale will always be solid but, if he stays in demand, will also be on his way out at White Hart Lane. Until then, look for a very sturdy left flank.
The Bad: Rafael van der Vaart
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
There is no question that Rafael van der Vaart was one of the great bargain-buys of the last few years and maybe longer. The former Ajax and Real Madrid man made an immediate impact at White Hart Lane and ended up scoring 16 goals in 36 games for Tottenham, finishing the season as their leading scorer.
Now here come the masses of Spurs fans shouting about how van der Vaart actually made the team worse and pushed the fairly strong strike force of Defoe, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, Keane or whoever to play out of formation and blah blah blah.
No, I'm sorry—a player who can put up 16 goals in a season is worth every penny of what he is paid and the sheer number of chances on goal that this Spurs team created and then missed is mind-numbing.
Therefore, I stand by my words and put VdV at the top of the Tottenham MVP list. By now you might be thinking, "why is VdV being called bad?" It's just like when kids used to call things bad because they were really good. Van der Vaart is one of Spurs' bad boys. Sure he has a bit of an attitude. That's why he's "The Bad."
VdV will continue to play just as well as this last season. Maybe it won't be another 16-goal season but it will definitely be more than 10. Depending on how the transfer window goes, he may get to play alongside a competent striker. This mixture could turn out to be deadly.
The Ugly: Heurelho Gomes
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Gomes has to be on this list under the "Ugly" category. It doesn't take a wizard to understand why he isn't known for his consistency. Of course, as with most goalies, he came up with some amazing saves but the mental lapses are the source of the concern.
Anyone who has ever played a sport with a goalie or 'keeper will agree with what you're about to read. Field players rely on 'keepers to have their backs.
Working hard to do all the running and passing and tackling can only be done with confidence that there is someone back there as a last line of defense. It doesn't matter if it is a blowout in either direction or a close game; if a goalie lets in a cheap, easy goal, that team will suffer a period of demoralization. It can break the back and shatter the confidence of even the strongest team.
For Spurs this last season, Gomes single-handedly lost games that should've been drawn or drew games that should've been won. Yes, some of his saves certainly contributed to wins that the team earned but it's the terrible misses that will be remembered most.
Gomes might get a couple games but he should get used to riding some bench. Barring any Brad Friedel disasters, Gomes won't be a starter for long. Friedel will lead Tottenham to a much better defensive record in this upcoming season.