Tottenham Not Missing Tom Huddlestone?
Before you read the title and quickly scroll to the bottom of the page to post a comment along the lines of, “you don’t know what you’re talking about, you idiot. Of course he’s been missed, who wouldn’t miss him?”, read exactly what I’ve got to say and ask yourself the question I’m really posing, which is why haven’t we missed Tommy more? This isn’t intended as a Tommy bash in the slightest as I hope you’ll see. Nor is it intended to wind people up who believe he’s excellent, it’s just something that crossed my mind and when I asked the question as to whether he’s been missed at all on twitter the responses I got were 50/50, which I found interesting.
Eleven games he’s missed now. That’s a third of the game’s we’ve played so far this season and until the Everton game it coincided with our best unbeaten run in over a decade. Some of those games included Chelsea, Werder Bremen and Liverpool at home and the likes of Arsenal, Birmingham and Everton away. Some would argue it’s not been the hardest run of games but there haven’t been any pushovers either (is there such a thing any more?).
Thomas Andrew Huddlestone is without doubt an excellent footballer. Blessed with vision, control and a passing ability that has seen him likened to Glenn Hoddle. That likeness is usually quickly followed with an “obviously not that good though” comment but he’s one of the best technically gifted English footballers playing today, a statement which I don’t think many would argue with. However, although only just 24 he’s struggled to get into the England fold and when given the chance hasn’t given a reason to get another. He’s also not a player that many fans of other clubs talk about. He gets the odd mention here and there but not in the same way our other midfield players do.
He’s quickly racking up the appearances in a Spurs shirt, having played 118 times for us. Quite a few of those have been from the bench but he’s still only managed to amass a paltry 14 goals. In all fairness to the big man, his partner in crime for the last 18 months Luka Modric, hasn’t got a much better return than that either, but with the talent he possesses and shooting ability this number should be a lot higher than it is.
He’s part of a young generation of Spurs players who have been with the club for a while now, having developed their skills and are the reason we’re currently in a rich vain of form. The likes of Michael Dawson, Benny Ekotto, Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were all bought at a young age with the intention of improving and becoming either major saleable assets or a team that could take us somewhere. At present they’re all the latter although their stocks have risen somewhat since we initially bought them if we were ever short of a bob or two. The same can be said for Tommy, but to what extent?
Last season he was a linchpin in what turned out to be one of the best years we’ve had in two decades. His partnership with Modric developed into one of the best in the league and the thought of being without him left many to wonder how we’d cope. However, this season, including before his injury he’s struggled to reach the same heights in my opinion and as such we haven’t missed him as much as we probably all thought we would. When the news of his injury was released many struggled to see who would replace him in that central position. Excusing last night’s game where everyone played poorly and the odd inadequate performance from individuals, Palacios and JJ have filled the gap left my THud fairly easily and neither of them are particularly brilliant at anything even when playing well. Whether the form of Modric has helped that or whether the fact Tommy isn’t playing is the reason for Modric’s return to excellence is open to conjecture.
What I’m saying is this. We’ve been without Dawson for a large proportion of the season and we missed him badly. We’ve missed Defoe when he was injured too. I know a lot of people out there don’t like him, but if Ekotto got injured we’d be in real trouble because not only is he a more than decent defender and works well with Bale but we’ve got no cover for him. Gareth Bale in the last year has transformed himself from a bench warmer to indispensable to the team. We’d struggle without Modric pulling the strings centrally as we did when he was injured last season although we’ve probably got better cover now with van der Vaart, of course another who has become central to everything good the team does. Even Aaron Lennon is missed when he’s not in the team because of what we can replace him with. Whether it be vdV on the right or Bentley/Niko/Modric none of them offer the same pace and directness we miss when Lennon’s not playing.
Why is it so easy to see why all these players would be missed and are vital to the team and chances of success and yet Huddlestone isn’t?
There’s the possibility that had Tommy played the last 11 games we would’ve won them all because of the calmness and ball retention he offers over the likes of Palacios and Jenas. However, we can only look at the facts and as much as we should and probably have missed him in certain situations, the results have been good in general and he’s not been obviously missed like the others in the group of players I mentioned would’ve been.
Here’s my theory on why. He’s the perennial under achiever. He promises so much but often delivers very little. Apart from a lack of pace he’s got the lot, technical ability, passing, strength, tackling, vision etc. Some of those aspects of his game are better than others obviously but when he plays I don’t think we miss the traditional defensive, tough tackling midfielder so he does what he has to in that role. The other players in our first team have stepped up and made themselves indispensable, Tommy is yet to do that. If out of form players like Palacios and Jenas can cover your position when you’re injured without it being a major problem there’s something wrong.
If Redknapp signs Diarra, or Sandro suddenly becomes the world class player some were led to believe he would become who’s place will they take? Tommy’s. It’s as simple as that.
So in conclusion as much as we thought we would miss him and as much as it could be argued in theory we have missed him, the fact of the matter is we haven’t missed him as much as we should when you consider he’s a vice captain and plays a central role in the team (has a sentence ever contained the words much and missed more?). Of all our players, Huddlestone’s injury has shown he’s not quite as vital to the teams success as maybe we thought he was. Or at least he’s not as vital as 6 or 7 of our other players and when he comes back, it’ll be up to him to make sure that’s not the case any more.
Like everyone else I thought when he got injured we could be in trouble but the fact that hasn’t been the case is either down to good squad players in Palacios and Jenas (who a large proportion of the fan-base don’t rate) or the fact his influence on the team isn’t quite as effective as we thought. He’s a hugely talented player with the world at his feet. A young player who I think most teams in the premiership would have but one that needs to mature quickly and make sure any replacement better be world class or they’re going to spend a lot of time on the bench.
Hurry back and prove me wrong Tommy.
Submitted by THFC1882
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