Sunday, 5 June 2011

Spurs - an idiot's guide: the centre-backs

On God, the key track from 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, the former Beatle lists a series of things and people in which he no longer believes.

He mentions religions, political leaders and some spiritual mumbo jumbo then, at the end, he lists rock stars. He doesn't believe in Elvis, he doesn't believe in Zimmerman and, most sacrilegiously, he doesn't believe in Beatles. He's telling the world what it doesn't want to hear: the greatest band in the world has split up and will never play together again. Move on.

Which brings us to King and Woodgate.The dream is over.

We now have to consider our strengths and weaknesses at centre back without taking either of them into account. Yes Ledley played a couple of games at the end of the season, and at Liverpool he was absolutely outstanding. And yes one or both of them may yet play again.

But in order to plan and buy for the long term there can be no caveats based on these two fine, fine players. We can no longer think 'What if...'

Which means our centre backs are, mainly, Dawson, Gallas, Kaboul, Bassong - plus, possibly, the South African lad, Bongani Khumalo, and England under-21 international Steven Caulker. And maybe that's not top four quality.

Dawson, of course, is a proper defender, carved from granite and already a White Hart Lane hero. Strangely, though, he doesn't seem comfortable in the role of main man. It's become a cliche to say he plays better next to a senior player - but that's because it's true, and his excellent performance in harness with Ledley up at Anfield only confirmed the theory.

Gallas, quietly and unfussily (thank goodness) had an excellent season - and, unencumbered, perhaps, by any sense of 'Spursness', but with plenty of experience at a higher level, even pointed out a few home truths (without causing offence or controversy) about our shortcomings. Fair play to him - and to Harry.

I really like Kaboul - I like his game and I like his attitude. I think with top class coaching he could be the real deal. But he has his critics amongst the faithful and he has got a few mistakes in him.

Harry clearly doesn't fancy Bassong, even though he played an awful lot of games in the 09/10 season. Maybe he's not up to being first choice, but he's not a bad back-up and I hope we hang onto him.

Rather like our strikers (only less so) we have a collection of players who are all pretty good - but, as a group, probably not quite good enough. And maybe the answer's the same: one big, inspired signing, someone who will be an automatic first choice and who will galvanise those around him, forming a partnership with one of them that could even be as good as the one that flourished briefly but brilliantly between those two players whose names escape me...


  1. I don't buy the theory that Captain Awesome can't be the main man when in his two best seasons for us he was, including last year when the defensive partnership of him & Bassong was absolutely instrumental in us finishing 4th. This hasn't been his best season, imo this is partly because of his injury & partly because of being played on the left of the partnership to accommodate Gallas. Yes, he played well alongside Ledley at Anfield but he also played on the right..........

    Bassong I feel immensely sorry for, yet another face that doesn't fit around WHL these days.

    For me, Woody can go & Ledley either accepts pay as you play, maybe combined with a coaching time or he can go too. I know that's harsh but life is.

  2. Gallas really manned up for us last season. All that pouty nonsense seems to be behind him. He always seemed like short-term solution though. If Modric and Sandro becomes the preferred pair in midfield, how about trying Huddlestone next to Dawson (or Kaboul when he grows up)?