Tag Archives: Robbie Keane

Half Term Report – our strikers

It’s half term and a chance for us to review our performance on the field as a team and our squad in each individual category. If you missed the first two articles you can catch them here:

Half Term Report – fighting on all fronts, goalkeepers and defenders

Half Term Report – Midfielders

Strikers

I am including Rafael Van Der Vaart in the striker group as a consequence of his desire to turn action into goals. Quite how he has taken the Premier League by storm when he could not get into the Real Madrid team is difficult to understand. They must have some players!

If I’m honest I was not that aware of Rafa when he was signed. Having made enquiries of the boy I found out he was pretty good but having seen him play I’d be willing to say he is much better than that. I’m happy to admit that Ardiles was my favourite ever Spurs player and I really enjoyed Ginola too but this guy has to be bordering upon equal to Ossie. I say this because I’ve never seen the addition of one player change the team so much so quickly. 

Such is his skill that you are desperate to get back for more and then when you consider that we also have Bale, Modric and Lennon in the same side it’s hard to miss a game at The Lane any more. He has some issues. Having missed a proper pre season with us his fitness may be a little questionable and he has already missed games as a result of injury. Without him I believe we have a great chance to win the game, with him I believe we will win. The next big test is Manchester United at home. We need to win that to show Fergie he hasn’t got all the answers any longer. I think a fit Rafa can help deliver that.

Elsewhere, we are still waiting to see how Jermain Defoe links up with Van Der Vaart. Unfortunately his 3 match ban means we have to wait longer to find out though an understanding seemed to be developing. I think JD is our best striker but I do believe that he is too greedy and certainly needs a couple of goals to settle him down. I’ve always believed he links well with Lennon and that gives me confidence that he will fit back into the side that has developed in his absence. Unfortunately his height dictates one method of play. On the floor. That suits our best game but it must be understood that it rubs both ways. We give the ball to you and you consider giving it back. I still fancy 10 goals from him in the second half of the season.

I wish I could say the same for Robbie Keane. Unfortunately the name Mr Reliable has been lost and his club form has spread to international games. The problem that Robbie has is his wage cost. Many clubs will be interested until they know the deal but lets be honest Rob how much money do you need? I cannot see him offering us lots of goals as he always was a little wasteful and therefore his use to us remains as a squad player. He won’t want that so the door is the only way forward for both parties. I shall miss him but always remember him singlehandedly winning games for us when he first came.

Pav presents a similar conundrum to me. He produces some incredible moments of brilliance but 40 minutes pass in between. When the brilliance comes the ball ends up in the net but he needs to offer more. I worry about his style of play and if it fits in with the side. All too often he comes deep looking for the ball to play those long switch passes but when playing only one up front I feel he needs to lead the line. That might be harsh but when you have the pace of Bale and Lennon it’s impossible to get from a deep position in time to slide it in. When he’s up there he does but when absent it can go across the net. Then there is his aerial threat? At best “not good” would sum it up. Without Crouch every ball is aimed at Bale because he has a chance of winning the header.

Like Pav Crouch has a number of shortcomings but in his favour he has built up a relationship with Van Der Vaart. Many of you don’t like Peter. Yes I agree he looks like a pantomime character on occasions and that his heading could be more powerful but we have been winning with him in the side. But in fairness he is not the best striker in the world and as with the goalkeeper position if we want to get into and stay in the top 4 and compete in every competition a ruthless streak would suggest a new name in this group and at least two out.

One out would be Giovanni who I don’t see having much of a future and Keane would make that two but a really good striker might need a further saving of wages and therefore either Pav or Crouch could go if the right offer came in. If it did not I would not be disappointed as both have things to offer from the bench.

So what would a new striker need to be capable of? The necessary strength to win and direct the ball in the air, pace to keep up with our wingers and sufficient ball playing skills to link with Luka and Rafa. So it’s quite easy to find such a player I’ll warrant!

As I said before I follow Spurs not every other team so I don’t know a list of names but answers on a postcard ignoring the obvious paper names such as Andy Carroll.

Next up a review of our Management and the Ownership.

Nasri spoils the Sandro show Spurs 1 Arsenal 4

In many ways we got a footballing lesson tonight from a much stronger Arsenal side than has played this round of the competition for some years. No problem with that at all; it is up to every Manager to decide who to play and after being well beaten in the competition last time round I understand why Mr Wenger names a decent side.

Both times Arsenal attacked the Paxton Road they showed us how to do it. In the first half they were classy providing an absolute exhibition as we spent most of the half ball watching and failing to compete. Quite how we were only one down at half time I’m not sure but thankfully we were.  The simple facts were they could pass to a red shirt and unfortunately so could we. Time after time we conceded possession and allowed Arsenal to push the ball around the park.

Then in the first half of extra time they took the initiative right from the kick off and caught us asleep before falling over easily to win two penalties and then catching young Naughton napping for the fourth. The first penalty was awful and Bassong looked close to tears the second naive on our part. They don’t like the physical but they do like the cynical and overall they were by far the better team on the night.

Our second half performance was better and Keane scored a goal that the keeper should have saved to give us a lifeline. Frankly he was more offside than two flags Arsenal got in the first so we had some luck. Keane’s introduction gave us some extra impetus and maybe a bit of leadership that we lacked in the first half. Giovani gave way plus Livermore for Lennon and we gave ourselves a much better chance in our best period of the game. Keane also hit a post from a Bentley free kick but chances were few and far between.

So how did our boys fair? Pletikosa was ok but flapped at a cross poorly and kicked through to the other keeper on more than one occasion. Naughton was shown up more than once and the ball for goals came from the right side for the first and he was asleep for the fourth.

Caulker was welcomed to the big stage and probably learned a lot tonight. He played because no other option existed and it was a big ask. He got done for the third penalty and the first goal went through him to the back post but he did do quite well in the second half.

Bassong had a decent game and took the skippers arm band for the night. In truth he is a better supporting centre back than leading one so to skipper the side was a big ask and that may be one issue with our squad the natural leader on the field.

Assou-Ekotto is a constant worry as he tries to dribble his way out of defence. One day he is going to get caught and it will be costly.

Bentley had his first game since his injury and was slow at the start but improved and finished the first half with some decent forays under his belt. But he drifted in the second half and was probably exhausted at the end. He also missed hitting the target with a free header in extra time at the back post which would have got one back.

Livermore was withdrawn at half time and played in the centre first half. Won possession but gave it away and did not impress that he has enough about him to nick a place in the first 11. Why is it that so many home grown players are not up to making the grade leaving us to sign our stars? Perhaps he will prove me wrong but not on this performance.

Palacios was out right in the first half away and out of the action. Still sloppy and often uncomfortable in possession he looked better after the half time changes but still needs to recover his best form.

What is it about Giovani? A hero for his country but a nothing when it comes to domestic games. He worked hard and tried hard to win the ball but nothing seemed to be happening for him. I can’t see him being around that much longer.

Sandro took a few minutes to pick up the pace of the game but once he did he looked better and better and better. I could see the Socrates suggestion in his running style and height and this performance suggests he can do things for us. Went off in extra time and probably shocked at the pace of the game played tonight. We will see him again this season.

And Pav ran about, wide and deep but in front of goal up front with his strike partner? Not really. For me it was a typical Pav performance, not very super at all and with few opportunities to produce anything special. His lack of aerial threat is an issue if the ball is not coming to feet. For me at best an impact substitute.

Lennon played the second half and continued his run of low confidence. I’m not sure how he will correct this at present. It has been suggested he might be a bit sulky as Bale is playing so well and everything is going down the left but that should provide him with better chances as all the markers move out left.

And Niko came on at the end and did not get much chance to impress. Not sure what has happened here as Harry is not going to him. I fancied he would get a game tonight and was surprised he featured so little. Don’t really understand it but he doesn’t look that cheery either at the moment.   

Final comments, firstly it was sad to see so many blue seats during extra time but well done to those who stayed and sang at the end.

When will Glenn Hoddle learn to not keep talking up our squad against those of our nearest rivals just before the game. Yes it looks good on paper but paper never won games and we have to put up with extra stick as a result of it.

We’re out of the Carling Cup in an embarrassing scoreline which was not the intention. Lose the game by all means but the manner of the first extra time period leaves a bad taste for those of us who had enjoyed the 90 minutes.

Lastly, it was good to see the minutes applause observed by both sets of fans before the kick off and nice to see those members of Bobby Smith’s family who stood with the former players pitch side and got a bit of the atmosphere he had told them about. May you rest in peace.

Hi ho silver lining! Tottenham Hotspur 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

We left it late but we got the job done and that was all that was needed today as we recorded our first home win against Wolves. A decent first half was spoiled by a few seconds without concentration and we went in one behind. To be fair to Kaboul he had pulled a hamstring and was about to be substituted but the loss of the goal could have proved costly.

Van Der Vaart started but there was no Modric. Corluka was not present and Jenas kept his place. Kaboul switched to right back Gallas partnered Ledley and Keane played up front with Crouch with Lennon dropping to the bench.

So what did we make of Van Der Vaart? He looked good to me and once he really gets into gear will be an excellent addition to the team. He’s not bad at the present time but he must still be getting used to his new colleagues. There was one move just before he came off when he moved the play out right, took the ball back and swept it instantly off to Bale on the left. Super stuff. And he scored the equaliser from the spot and looked more comfortable than his colleagues do in that position. In the first half he also forced an excellent save from Hahnemann from a rasping volley – there’s goals in them boots for sure.

Without Charlie, Kaboul stepped across to right back and without Lennon took the opportunity to bomb down the line on a number of occasions. I liked what I saw. I think he’s playing some really good football at the moment and it was sad that he looks like it was a hamstring so he may be out for a couple of weeks. Alan Hutton was on the bench and came on to enjoy a decent performance that saw him win a penalty for a terrific run, link well with others, have a shot with his left that was nearly in and then score his first Spurs goal with a comedy of errors effort in the dying minutes. There’s nothing like a comedy goal to teach  a team not to waste time!

So with two players both performing well at right back, or better than Corluka has been playing of late, where does that leave him? I think it depends who plays in front for if Lennon plays neither will get the freedom to dance down the line all afternoon which is certainly Hutton’s natural game. Having said that it proves that we have decent depth in our squad and when Bentley is fit once again both men will fit in with his style of play if needed.

Elsewhere Bale had his usual strong game beating the full back all ends up for most of the afternoon with his electric pace and deliberate runs. He created a number of chances for both Keane and Crouch and we were unlucky that nothing really came off, very close often but not enough to trouble the scorers. Keane took some stick for failing to pass the ball well on occasions, had a shot charged down by 4 Wolves defenders – too slow many said – and an acrobatic effort that went just wide. Had he been greedier on Hutton’s left foot shot he could have knocked it in but he probably thought it was in.

I’d rather he started got the bird and went off. For me Pav, his replacement, is a substitute over a starter in this team and fans will call for him to come on where they won’t for Robbie. Therefore if Robbie comes off all well and good if he doesn’t most are appeased by the introduction of Pav. I’m in a minority here I fancy. I didn’t think Pav was all that when he came on but the man is cool in front of goal and when the chance came he put it away. That’s what he is there to do after all but would Robbie have missed that chance? I’d hope not but I have seen him do it on occasions.

Pav plays a more expansive game and therefore can benefit from being fresh against a 60 minute defence. He might also play a better game with Keane as his Young Boys goal showed him at his best from a great lay off. Irrespective of all that he scored today and Keane didn’t and we won the game and that’s what matters.

JJ kept his place over Wilson and did very well in midfield sliding in to win the ball on more than one occasion. I don’t think his tackling and competitiveness is better than Wilsons but his distribution certainly is. I was surprised by how well he played midweek and he carried that on today so I expect to see him against West Ham next weekend unless Sandro is exceptional against Arsenal. There were a couple of the driving runs that I like to see JJ execute and a glorious pass inside to set Bale up for a crossing opportunity during the first half.   

I was a little surprised to see Ledley but he had a good game and was really good on the ball today carrying it well out of defence and even making it out to the right wing on one occasion. Quite what these runs will do to his knees I’m not sure but it was a composed and solid performance. I did notice a few boos for Billy G at the start but I thought he was decent, perhaps a shade lucky early on, but composed and solid enough to win the majority of the crowd over.

Ekotto too was positive and linked well with Bale. In the second half he was able to charge, cut inside and go again on a couple of occasions once we had the goal back. I think the two of them have a decent understanding and I’m beginning to question whether we can afford to lose half of Bale’s opportunities if he drops into the defence. That puts pressure onto Tom H who had improved on recent outings though was not back to his best. He may be feeling a need to look over his shoulder?

And Wolves? As predicted organised and a tough nut to crack. Doyle looks good up front but they are guilty of time wasting. Appreciate they were ahead but the keeper was a nuisance with his dawdling across the six yard box to take a goal kick. Quite why you can choose which side to kick escapes me as it allows a team to slow down the game. I’d hope we wouldn’t be so guilty of this when we go to Molineux later in the season. If we can get ahead hopefully we’d be trying to put the game away rather than hanging on.

On the tackling front they were robust and not that unfair. We on the other hand were sloppy in giving up too many opportunities on the corners of our box and must avoid this to prevent getting punished.

That said a good win and the 3 points take us to fourth overnight with games to be played tomorrow.  Harry got the subs right as all contributed, great little cameo from Lennon at the end, and as we discussed at the end of the transfer window it’s a hell of a squad we have at present!