Ekotto: Under-rated, Under Valued & One Of The Best Around

By on July 4, 2011

Every club has players who polarise opinions. We’ve had and still have our share. Those players who are loved and loathed in almost equal numbers. For years Jermaine Jenas was the ultimate ‘marmite’ player, though it now appears most agree he’s more ‘arsenic’ than a harmless yet disgusting yeast based spread.

Into the void steps a new object of affection and disaffection. Who better than the superbly coiffed and equally superbly monikered, Benoit Assou-Ekotto. He stands accused of concentration lapses, showboating in danger areas and not caring enough.

For me – and this will undoubtedly lead to some of you stopping reading now – Benny is the 3rd or 4th best left back in the Premier League. I firmly believe that he’s been our most consistent player for the last 18 months, being a constant reference in an ever changing back four. Like I say for some, they’ll stop reading now, probably in favour of reading about Lionel Messi arriving for a medical at Spurs Lodge. For the rest here’s why.

Let’s look at Benoit’s attitude first. This appears to be the main reason why people get on his back. I thought it was refreshingly honest to hear him say that he see’s football in London for Spurs as a job. As fans we would all like every single player to show Steve Perryman levels of dedication to the club and shirt in everything they do. That however is very much a vestige of a bygone age, it is a plain and simple fact these days that most footballers see things like Benny does, they just aren’t honest enough to come out and say it. This isn’t to say that loyal, die for the club footballers don’t exist anymore, they do, Michael Dawson is proof of that.

This raises another interesting point about his attitude. Surely a team of XI emotionally driven warriors would be terrifying to face but it also stands to reason that they would also make mistakes because of a lack of logical thought, something else that Dawson illustrates a few times a season. Every team, be it a footballing one or in your workplace needs a balance of personalities and whilst Benny’s approach may not be your own or one you particularly like, that calm detachment is every bit as vital. Besides, being detached isn’t the same as not caring. He does care, players who don’t care won’t pull a hamstring sprinting 30 yards to try and rescue a team mates mistake – as he did in the home game against West Brom at the end of the season.

A few times in every game Benny will do his trademark move that exhilarates and infuriates in equal measure. You know what I mean, he’ll rob an opponent of the ball, then seemingly taking too long will perform a drag back or an ‘Ekotto-turn’, calmly beat his man and emerge to rapturous applause. Having not seen Cyril Knowles live due to age limitations I have to rely on footage and speaking to older fans but I understand he was lauded for two things, being a proper hard man from when football was played by real men. Secondly and more relevantly, Cyril was famed for his showboating in and around his own area to the refrains of ‘Nice one Cyril’. So really BAE is just following in his footsteps, besides we’re Spurs, we’re supposed to love the sexy football. Perhaps more pertinently, I struggle to recall a time recently when he’s actually been caught out. Keep entertaining Benny, it’s what football’s all about.

One criticism of Assou-Ekotto that I will relate to is a lack of concentration particularly against the smaller teams, although a number of his team mates also suffer from this, so it seems harsh to single him out, especially as he has evidently improved in this over the last couple of years. The flip side to this is that Benoit is never better than when put up against the big boys. Even in his early days when I had my doubts about him I recall him coming up against Cristiano Ronaldo and keeping him quiet every time. Considering the only other left back who can be reliably counted on to stifle the Portugese winker is Ashley Cole, I think it’s churlish to deny that Benny is a good player.

Distribution is one area of his game that cries out for consistency. He can at times hit crossfield balls or crosses with pinpoint accuracy to devastating effect, but at occasionally  he plays balls that have you questioning which sport he thinks he’s playing. I’ve never pretended he was perfect. I’m sure this is one area that Redknapp and the coaching staff continue to work with him on. Redknapp it appears is a firm fan of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. I don’t recall the last time we were linked with a left back, that suggests that Harry is happy with the man with the hair. Going back to Benny’s attitude, I think it’s telling that Redknapp clearly rates him. Harry is well known to like his solid pro’s who get their heads down and get their job done. I’d suggest that no matter how Benny approaches his job, he gets it done.

Gareth Bale’s emergence as a left wing force appears to have helped Benoit improve his game also. Previously playing behind Modric or Kranjcar who drift inside, Assou-Ekotto was often relied upon to offer width adding more responsibility and of course frequently leaving our left side vulnerable to counter attack. Bale can more often be found hugging the touchline meaning that BAE is not required to push up the pitch so often, this has allowed him to concentrate on the defensive side of his game and maintain positional discipline. The breakthrough of Danny Rose at the end of the last season can also only be a good thing for Benny. One thing that he’s really missed is strong competition. He’s pretty much figured whenever fit for almost two years, testament to his physical conditioning and mentality but a seeming guaranteed slot can lead to complacency. Benoit will now know that Rose is on his tail and will push him all the way to keep his starting spot. It may be just a job but he’s a professional and will want to maintain superiority over the young upstart. Our Cameroonian left back could be about to go from strength to strength.

Much of the criticism of Benoit appears to stem from the Alan Hansen led media belief that he’s not all that. Sir Alex Ferguson and his kids will tell you how much Hansen knows. In my opinion only Manchester United, Chelsea and maybe Newcastle don’t wish that their left back was BAE. Or as good as him at least.

COYS

Submitted by Stuart Watts of THFC1882

 

 

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18 Comments

  1. CyprusYid

    July 4, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Now why did you have to go and write an article about Benny for? He is our secret weapon. By writing about him, it will wake up them with more money than sense to come and try to bid on BAE. I think he is better than the writer thinks he is, and I love seeing the superstars coming up against him. They can’t get through. He is solid and determined. One of my favourite Spurs players!

    • ParkLane67

      July 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

      You must have read my thoughts. I only wish Modric, Sandro & Bale had slipped under the radar quite like BAE seems to have done. Long may the likes of Hanson and other media fiends slag him off – Don’t want red nose and the like sniffin’ round one of the best LBs in the country!

  2. Tom Cowan

    July 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Not even read the article, I know I’d agree with all of it.

  3. juxta

    July 4, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Nail on head CyprusYid.
    Top man, top player in my books and far more valuable than the likes of Defoe, Pav, Keane in the way he goes about his job.

  4. Alan

    July 4, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Totally agree with you here – great player, shame about the haircut 🙂

  5. John White

    July 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Ekotto: Over-rated;over-valued; lacking in concentration; lacking in discipline, incapable of playing offside; poor passer, since the majority of his passes are merely hoofs up the wing to the opposition; but a good tackler; often covers well but also often after causing problems in the first place by his lack of concentration, good on the ball, but causes himself and the team problems by putting himself in trouble unnecessarily by being flash; in essence: good to watch but unreliable, and if the team is going to win trophies on a regular basis, needs to be replaced.

    • yidz

      July 4, 2011 at 10:55 am

      nah nah nah you must watch a differant player the boy BAE has come on in leaps and bounds.99.9% of the time his tricks come off.Top 2 left back in the prem.

    • Irish Spur

      July 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

      At last an honest assessment of this player, agree 100%

      • Jay

        July 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

        Thats not an honest assessment as the guy who wrote that comment clearly only watches Match of the Day.

        Watch the full game and you will see he handles everyone 1on1 that he comes up against, his distribution is excellent, his crossing and shooting are very impressive although due to bale this side of his game isnt often needed.
        His technique and composure is better than any left back in the world.

        He finished clearly top of the most interceptions in the league ahead of defensive midfielders who are employed to do that role.

        Amazing left back, he was slack against Balckpool last year and struggled against Shamus Coleman (but so did Bale) other than that he was amazing and consistently involved in matches from start to finish (unlike Bale).

        I wouldnt swap him for any left back in the world only Ashley Cole is worth comparing.

    • Ian

      July 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      You must be watching a different player mate, he is a top class and would be my first name on the teamsheet!

      His passing is brilliant, the amount of times his pinpoint passes set up Bale to be an oposition defender and put in a cross are too many to count.

      He has a concentration blip twice a season and usually recovers those moments. Unless you are referring to the games he is played on the right, in which his mistakes were not down to concentration.

      He never puts the team in trouble with his flashness..you must be thinking of LYP who would do tricks and lose the ball but Benny doesn’t lose the ball!

      Sorry but you are far too critical!

  6. Roy Singh

    July 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Always an asset in a Spurs shirt. Contributed immensely to our success last year. Can improve in some areas, especially when complimenting Bale on the flanks with their 1, 2 combinations.

  7. michael

    July 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Benoit has very few bad days. he is top shelf. not many id swap him for. love the guy……bad hair though

  8. Spurfect

    July 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Ive not read the whole article as I’ve not time, but would wholeheartedly agree with him being one of the top 4 left backs in the league without a shadow of a doubt. It seems Alan Hansens assessment of him in one match of the day show has stuck a little mud on Ekotto. A damning view from a man whos ‘punditted’ for too long and given a off the cuff judgement on a player without actually examining his form and game.
    Ekotto has been a fantastic left back for us, the best i’ve seen in years and years at the lane. His composure, his attacking play, his pace, his timely challenges, his jockeying and knowing when and how to send a winger into an area that allows us to recover our shape. I guess what im saying is he has a footballing brain as well as the skill to go with it. Yes he makes the odd mistake, which EVERY defender does, but they really are few and far between and he just improves every season. We’d be a much poor side without him and he should be a player who we should make sure is retained by us as a long stay in our back four. He’s been one of our top 3 or four players consistency and performance wise for the last few seasons without a doubt.

  9. Bobby

    July 4, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Article far to long to read on a Monday morning, but the headline says it all.
    Over the last few years this guy has developed into one of my favourite players, he is an absolute star i would not want another left back he IS the man no doubt.

  10. Folkestone_Yid

    July 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

    BAE is so vital to Spurs, he is so good going forward, can beat players and cross BUT unlike most modern right/left backs he CAN defend….absolute CLASS ACT.

  11. JamesCOYS

    July 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    A good acticle and I 90% agree with you, but to be honest I think his lapse in concentration at time is something of a major concern. This happens about 5 times a season and usually ends up in us conceeding a goal or being in danger. (An example of this is Inter Milan away. A lapse in concentration let a player run in behind him with ease and therefore result in Inter getting a penalty.) I am not saying sell him because I can see the talent there, as you said when he pulls of a trick in a dangerous area and the crowd cheers, its brilliant. I just believe Harrys needs a good chat with the player and say look “you need to stay focused on the game and dont ball watch”. Hopefully he takes this in and becomes the quality player he can be.

  12. Nick

    July 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Completely Agree:

    Friedel

    Walker Cahill Gallas BAE

    Sandro

    Lennon Modric Bale

    VDV or Bojan

    Llorente

  13. Chadders

    July 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I have been saying for a while now that Ekotto is a fantastic left back. About time he got recognised.

    I work for a gambling company and have access to watch every spurs game on TV, so I feel like my opinion on any Tottenham player deserves to be a valued one. With that in mind I think Ekotto is a world class left back and he would be one of the first names on the team sheet for me every week.

    Nice article!

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