Friday, June 12, 2009

Spurs Pull Out of EPL Reserve League: Which Players Have No Futures?

In a sensational turn which will leave many players at Spurs worried, the club have announced that they will not have a team competing in the Reserve Premier League next season, and that they have decided to concentrate on the Academy and first teams only.

A statement on read:
"It is felt it would be of greater benefit providing our 18 to 21-year-old players with a tailor-made games programme, which includes experiencing competitive football with loan transfers, tournaments, and private friendly fixtures that allows greater flexibility around the First Team's fixture schedule.

"It also enables fixtures to be arranged as and when they are required for First Team squad members."
In an age where every club is looking to cut costs, it would seem that Spurs have taken a drastic step to curb wage spending at the club, £45m per year.

With preseason training only a month away, Harry Redknapp has set the alarm bells ringing for as many as 15 of Tottenham Hotspur's underachieving stars.

In a recent meeting with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, Redknapp pointed out the players that he wants to sell, as well as bring in, while he puts his own stamp on the team.

Clearly unhappy with many of the players on the books, Redknapp has often spoken of a need to get the balance of the team right. Under recent managers Martin Jol and Juande Ramos, Tottenham suffered from a severe imbalance to the team.

Combined with the distinct lack of leadership and strength in midfield was a clear lack of left-sided players to balance both midfield and defence.

Of course, both ex-managers can point to their constant undermining by ex-sporting director Damien Comolli, who oversaw Spurs' signing of some of the worst value players in English Premier League history.

Last October, with Spurs sitting bottom of the table with just two points and looking relegation directly in the eye, Levy sacked Ramos and Comolli and swiftly moved for Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp.

The simple fact that 'Arry picked up 49 points between October and May and then guided Spurs to the Carling Cup Final is testament to his skills as a manager.

Now as we move through the summer, he has indicated to the chairman that a large number of players have no future in his Tottenham team.

Levy has been told that recent signings Darren Bent, David Bentley, Giovani Dos Santos, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Chris Gunter, Pascal Chimbonda, and Gilberto are all surplus to his requirements and that he wants them out of the club at any price.

He has also been told that if Spurs receive reasonable offers for Didier Zokora, Gareth Bale, Jermaine Jenas, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Jamie O'Hara, and Tom Huddlestone, the chairman should take the money, as the players have no long-term futures under Redknapp.

Levy flew to Seville during the week to negotiate a transfer fee for Zokora, which is complicated by the fact that Sevilla still want £3.5m compensation for Spurs tapping up Ramos. Currently Monchi is only willing to pay £6m, while Spurs want £8m, so a deal looks very likely.

In short, that leaves Harry with only 12 recognised first-team players that he wants to hold on to.

The squad needs a massive overhaul if they are to consistently challenge for a Champions League space. In the last five years alone, Spurs have spent a staggering £193m on players, and at this point are no better off than they were five years ago.

On the plus side, they have also recouped over £120m from transfer sales in the same period, reduced their debt greatly from £150m to £75m, and are on the verge of building a new 60,000-seater stadium in the vicinity of White Hart Lane.

And as I write, chief executive Paul Barber is in the Middle East negotiating with a number of companies about sponsorship for the new stadium over a 10- to 20-year period.

When Redknapp took over in October, the Chairman gave him full control of transfers both in and out of the club. In looking at the list of players that have no future at the club, I would be in great agreement with the manager.

Spurs have floundered with bad players and practically no midfield since the early '90s, and it must finally be relief to all fans of Tottenham to have a chairman and a manager who appear (at the moment anyway) to be on the same page.

For Spurs to move to challenging the top four in the Premier League, they will need...

* Heurelho Gomes to show the form that he had in the second half of the season.

* A new left full. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has improved, but he is still short of being regarded as being good enough for European competition. It is worth noting that since his declaration for Cameroon, he has almost doubled as a player.

There is a great dearth of talent in this position in the EPL, so one would guess that Harry will give Benoit and Bale at least one more season.

* A new central midfielder to partner Wilson Palacios. Jenas has been stagnant for a long time. As a youth he looked like he was destined for greatness, but since his moves to Newcastle and Spurs, he has remained stationary. Unless he finally takes that step that is so obviously needed, he has no future with the team.

This is one position that Spurs have tried to fix instantly, and they had a bid of £8m with £50k.p.w. sitting on the table for Gareth Barry, only to be blown out of the water by Manchester City's improved offer.

* A new left-sided player. Luka Modric has performed well since his move outside. But he is not natural out there.

For real balance to the team, Spurs need to bring in some width. Too often Aaron Lennon is their only out ball. Spurs recently sounded out Aston Villa about a possible swap for Ashley Young.

Up front, Spurs have Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane, who in their previous spell with the club could not form a partnership.

So it would seem most likely that here is where Redknapp will start rebuilding. Goran Pandev, Kenwyne Jones, and Real Madrid's Ruud van Nistelrooy have all been linked recently.

And with Sunderland ready to plunder Spurs' unwanted again, Jones signing is a very real possibility.

Another plus side for Redknapp is the current academy team at Tottenham, who were recently beaten to the FA Academy League title by Arsenal after a playoff for the title.

Players like Jonathan Obika, John Bostock, Dean Parrett, Andros Townsend, and Ryan Mason are all on the verge of the first team squad, and indeed Bostock is hailed as one of the best midfield prospects in Britain. If there is any player from the youths that will make an impact next season, it will be him.

This summer will be a defining one in Spurs' medium-term future, and if Harry can plant the seeds to a sound foundation, his successor could be the one to finally make something of a club who have threatened to do so for so long.

twitter / PremLgeReport