Thursday, 2 June 2011

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

Our first choice full backs are quite a pair. I like them.

Charlie and Benny. For a start, they sound like an old music hall act.

But, also, the sound of their names fits the same pattern as Frankie and Johnny. So when I say them together, I can't help extending it to 'Charlie and Benny were lovers...'

Although I'm pretty sure they're not.

They are, however, the most laid back full-backs in the universe - certainly in the Premier League.

BAE famously (justifiably and admirably) refuses to pretend that he was born to play for Spurs and would die for the shirt. It's a job, and one that he does to the absolute best of his ability whenever called upon to do so. And that's fine by me. I'd rather see someone defend properly than pump their fist at the crowd or indulge in any of that mob-agitating nonsense that is so often interpreted as passion.

Personally, I don't need a player to do that sort of two-arm-wafting 'let's hear you' gesture when they come over to take a corner in order to persuade me to encourage the team, or call Ashley Cole a cunt.

He, Benny that is, also seems supremely relaxed on the pitch. That's not a criticism at all. Only very, very rarely does his attitude spill over into sloppiness. Most of the time it's just cool and calm and exactly what you need under pressure.

Corluka, perhaps without Benny's elan, has a similar demeanour. He will not be rushed, or panicked. I mean yes, that's largely because he's slower than Guns and Roses in the studio, we know that, but he manages to pass it all off as deliberately taking his time.

Both of them always seem one (positive) step removed from the hurly burly of the game. Basically we've got Cheech and Chong as full backs, haven't we?

As back-up, on the left, we've (suddenly) got Danny Rose, although I'm sure he was a marauding right winger and scorer of spectacular goals last time we saw him.

There's some debate as to whether it was 'Arry and Spurs or Stuart Pearce and the England Under-21s who spotted his potential at left back. Either way, he was pretty impressive in the last few games of the season - and a damn sight tougher in the tackle than you'd expect.

On the right we have (or will have) Kyle Walker. He's one of those players who has become significantly better and certainly much more appreciated by not playing at Spurs.

There was plenty of disgruntlement amongst fans that he was considered good enough to be called up for England but not good enough for us - and injuries only exacerbated the frustration/bafflement.

But maybe he's going to come back a much better and instantly 'trustable' (not an actual word, granted) player, in which case, whilst the grumbles were understandable, perhaps the strategy can be said to have worked.

There's Kabul, of course, who filled in now and again, but if an athlete of that build ends up at full back, he's pretty much failed.

Oh and then there's Alan Hutton. In the last 12 months he's (occasionally) shown real promise, but there's something wrong with the wiring.

I don't think we've got the best full backs in the Premier League, but I think they're better than adequate and, always bearing in mind that our limited funds need to be spent where they're really needed, we're all set.


  1. If Ian Dowie can introduce 'bouncebackability' into football fans vernacular, you have to be allowed 'trustable' ;)

    Are you serious? BAE wasn't a boyhood Spurs fan? It cannot be...

  2. No, sadly not, but I believe Robbie Keane was...

  3. I love Benny. His swagger & touch of arrogance. The way he nonchalantly passes the ball half the pitch with accuracy. His heartstopping habit of taking the ball at the last second. He was horribly underrated, thankfully many have come to their senses. Bale would not be as good without Benny. In the same way, part of Lennon's problem this season imo has been that he was without Charlie. I know he's slow but he's steady.

    I'm a big fan of Walker & Naughton. As for Danny, that was Pearce.

  4. Ellie! You mean you don't think it was a Redknapp masterstroke?! ;-)

  5. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has become a real cult hero. He is a very good full-back and could be even better if he had the desire and concentration. I wrote a piece on him a month or so ago if anyone's interested.
    He genuinely does play the game at his own pace and that's because he's very talented and as comfortable on the ball as anyone outside of Modric and Van der Vaart.

    Corluka, however, has the legs of a 45-year-old and is just slow, nothing more. He is a functional full-back, but there is a lot of room for improvement and hopefully Kyle is the man to usurp him.

    Hutton did some excellent attacking work, but unfortunately he is a pretty bad defender. Hopefully Rose will fulfill all that potential.

  6. Benwahhh and Charlie, surely apt cat names, shouldwithout doubt be integral to a solid back five; the bedrock of a sustainable title challenge next season. The goalkeeper debate is for another blog comment.