Jermain Defoe is the key man for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this season.
I’d written a piece on the reasons why and what he had to accomplish. Then he scores against Holland and I’ve pressed delete. That.
His first was a beautiful goal. The timing of the run, the ball control, the balance whilst running at pace, the touch to the left to make an angle and finally the neat tuck inside the keeper’s near post. Perfect.
JD lacks nothing in terms of ability. His problem is his brain. He can’t fathom this offside thing, can he. He moves too early and even then does not fill the space in front of him; notice how close he stays to defenders, rather than instinctively moving to the space in between the full back and centre half or between the two central defenders.
This is as much a confidence problem as one of technique. Brash and vulgar, nevertheless on the pitch he moves early because in the back of his mind he wants that extra split second advantage. I’m sure he’s not aware enough to recognise this attitude problem, so Harry needs to work on his technique. I’d suggest he is locked in a darkened room for 48 hours with just a bunch of Michael Owen DVDs. Of his contemporaries, Owen is the most expert at sitting on the defender’s shoulder, there but just out of sight. He gets in front of opponents and times those runs along the back four to perfection. If Defoe gets it right, he has pace in abundance to extract maximum advantage.
Two other things, JD. First, change your default position from ‘blast it’ to ‘think about it’. Take that fraction of moment, set yourself and then push it, side foot, hammer it sometimes, but don’t just whack it.
Second, football is a team game. These people in the admittedly foul white/yellow/grey squiggly-bit-at-the-top shirts are on your side and you are allowed to pass. Unbelievably, some of them are as good as you.
Defoe has been a good prospect for too long. It’s time to step into the spotlight, which after all he adores. Harry will look after him and he looks fighting fit. This is his moment.
Transfer business in the Premier League has become all too predictable but Michael Owen’s transfer to Manchester United has surprised everyone, not least the player himself. The deal is an example that Harry Redknapp is highly likely to follow on behalf of Spurs.
I had a sneaking feeling that Owen would come to Tottenham. When it comes to transfer business, Redknapp starts twitching when he spies a bargain, like those antique dealers who claim to know instinctively when they are in the presence of a genuine work of art. He likes a veteran, does our ‘arry. At Portsmouth he made good use of Kanu in particular and others like Campbell, Primus and Hreidarsson played important roles when it appeared they were on the slide. The very best example of Redknapp’s talent, however, is right here at the Lane. Ramos wrote off Ledley King, whereas Redknapp resurrected his career and restored him to his rightful status as one of the finest centre halves in the club’s history.
It makes good sense. Redknapp gave them a crystal clear idea of where they fitted into the team and asked them to play to their strengths. The defenders, well, defended. Protected by an industrious midfield, they were instructed to stay back, not venture forward, and do the business in and around the box.
Kanu’s example is especially relevant to Spurs because we lack an effective target man whose ability to bring others into the game is at least as significant as their goals per game ratio. It’s certain we will sign this type of player this summer. With Keane, Defoe and Modric scuttling around him and Lennon providing the crosses, the team will surely prosper. Bent has been given the chance to prove himself in this respect and has been found sadly wanting. Experience counts in this position, body strength and an awareness of what is going on around you more valuable than the stamina to hurl yourself around the pitch for 90 minutes. Even Heskey can do it, for goodness sake.
It makes good sense in the boardroom too. There’s no such thing as a free transfer these days, what with signing-on fees and the ludicrous salary Owen no doubt ‘earns’. However, the hall of mirrors that is modern transfer business distorts the real world so completely that it becomes entirely plausible to claim that this is a fine piece of business. United’s success can generate the income to pay high salaries and the absence of a transfer fee ensures that their capital remains intact. It’s the interest on the vast loans that financed the Glasers’ takeover that is potentially damaging to the club in the long term, so this deal does not add to the borrowing requirement.
At Spurs our finances have a more solid foundation but the principle remains the same. It’s excellent business and we will no doubt indulge at some point in the window. However, we’re better than Portsmouth and need better quality players, so the majority of signings have to be of a high calibre. Redknapp won’t have to work his magic on too many old stagers. It’s a luxury he’s not had before as a manager.