It’s pleasing to see Ledley King pledging his future to the Club and saying he will be playing for us after 2012. Having said that is this what the club needs? Having read Harry Hotspur for a period of time he has quite often asked this question “How long can project Ledley carry on for?” and whilst this appears quite harsh and disloyal to one of our best players the Birmingham and Chelsea games have shown that the lack of proper training leads to a succession of muscle pulls and strains.
As a Spurs fan its difficult to think of a time when we had a better centre back corp.? It’s easy to think of times when we didn’t and certain players come to mind quite quickly that leave a chill down the spine – in fact it’s quite an endless list if you think about it! So to have players of the ability of Woodgate, Dawson King and Bassong on our squad competing for two places is a fantastic problem for the manager to have.
This season injury has played a major part to our defensive selections. When we signed Jonathan Woodgate there were those who thought “not another sicknote” only to find him a near ever present in the side. Then there was Dawson. In his early Spurs career a fantastic prospect that ran out of gas, made errors missed Ledley and became a bag of nerves. Since Harry has been manager most of these problems have been put right and his attitude has future captain written all over it.
So are these two going to be happy sitting on the bench when we are not in Europe and do not have two games a week? Both are English and will want to press claims for the World Cup squad in South Africa, as is Ledley who is offering himself to Fabio in a role to be determined.
We have not yet mentioned Bassong who after looking a liability at Newcastle has looked good on the ball, attacked the aerial ball well in both boxes but with areas to work upon to stop him getting turned etc.
So a team of cultured defenders but all prone to the one error in a game that can be costly. Yes even Ledley. His lack of real training tells me it is difficult to man mark and often when he plays we are vulnerable to an opposition substitution in the striker department and this can lead to a goal being conceded. Sunderland last year was a prime example when Cisse came on and got space, a free header and scored. My thought was Ledley you lost your man.
I was willing to forgive this understanding what a good clubman Ledley was and then we played Everton away. Knowing that your knee swells up really badly after a game would indicate that you’d elevate it and give it rest once the Spurs team got back to North London. But these days you fly not take a coach, so back to Stansted and out in London on the beer is one choice against rest and relaxation. Ledley picked the former and ended up in a cell. Apart from the cell he might always have picked the former – his book will tell us when he writes it – and this was a crucial moment in my thinking. I hate players mouthing about how much they earn a week and quiet cultured Ledley was the last person I expected it from. I was shocked as he was the last player I thought this might happen to. From that moment I’m maybe not as forgiving of the slack marking.
I’m not a man from the Rafa Benitez School of management. I think you have to know your best team and in certain areas keep playing it rather than rotate to build up understanding, confidence and a style of play. For me central defence is the most important pairing and if you get it right at worst you draw at best a win. I therefore believe that you pick a pairing and stick to it week in week out. If Ledley had great knees he’d be part of that and a first choice on the team sheet but as it is we are really playing with only 2 subs because there is likelihood that he won’t make it to the end of the game.
If Spurs want to break into the top 4 can we do it on this basis? I’m not sure we can and concerned that we get offers on the others that the players want to explore for regular first team football only for Ledley to unfortunately reach the end of his career a couple of months later. You might think I don’t like Ledley King but that’s not true at all. I enjoy watching him play and play he certainly can. He’s up there with Mike England, the ex Notts County player and Richard Gough as the best centre backs I’ve seen play at the club. He was giving Drogba a great tussle on Sunday but couldn’t last the game to help deliver maybe a draw. Sometimes for the long term you have to look at the luxury a player provides and decide whether we can cope with it or not. It’s a question we’ll be asking about other positions in our team before the seasons end but that will be called healthy competition.
And that’s our problem. To date this season it has not existed. On Saturday it won’t either as Dawson will no doubt play 90 minutes alongside Bassong if he is recovered from his concussion. Woodgate may need further surgery so our problem may not present itself until after Christmas when the decision will be pick two from the four. Crickey it’s a toughie and Harry is going to have to put his mind to it but making tough decisions is what he is paid to do.
No knee problem I’d go Woodgate King but with the knee Dawson Woodgate. But you tell me – what do you think our best permutation is going forward.