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Modric Saga Re-Opened Already, But What Now For The Spurs Midfield?

As 11pm came on Wednesday there was a palpable sigh of relief from many Spurs fans. Finally all the press speculation about who was on their way in and out of the club could be put to bed and now the focus would be on the football. At least until December, just before the next […]

As 11pm came last Wednesday there was a palpable sigh of relief from many Spurs fans. Finally all the press speculation about who was on their way in and out of the club could be put to bed and now the focus would be on the football. At least until December, just before the next window opened. Surely?

No. Barely two days into September, The Evening Standard – a publication that has had issues with Spurs for years now – was touting the Modric to Chelsea move for January’s window. This is just another example of certain sectors of the press who seem to have a vested interest in Modric moving to West London. They must all be on a cut of the deal. Or fear Abramovich’s ‘contacts’ from his homeland.

Whatever the media’s motivation, one things for sure, they aren’t making life easy for their favorite manager, Harry Redknapp. This Modric situation will push the famed man-manager to his very limits. It’s going to be Redknapp’s job to make sure there are no repeats of the ‘my heads not right’ situation before the United and City games. While Modric may not be terribly popular with Spurs fans right now, it would take a very short sighted person to believe that the team is better without him (if he’s on form). Where else is the creativity going to come from? Especially with Rafa Van der Vaart sidelined with injury.

Scott Parker may bring battling qualities and much needed character to Spurs midfield he’s not exactly a creative genius like the Croatian. Niko Kranjcar is fine in the middle against Hearts but Premier League opposition is an entirely different prospect, not one that any Spurs fan will look forward to with any relish after Sunday. One man who has shown potential forever is Tom Huddlestone. With superb technique and ability to hit a pass off either foot with deadly accuracy, he’s long been hailed the spiritual successor to Glenn Hoddle. Unfortunately his athletic abilities are equal to Andy Reid rather than Hod – who was hardly famed for his physicality –  and his injury lay offs are always followed by long searches for match sharpness.

Once he returns from injury Sandro will look to take his game to the next level, he though again, isn’t a creative force. Whilst it would be great to dream that youth may get it’s chance, in reality it’s unlikely that Redknapp will risk it other than in the cup competitions. Therefore with Parker’s arrival, Jake Livermore’s impressive start will be slowed down, that much is made clear by the fact he was offered to West Ham in a loan deal. Another youngster who will hopefully play in the cup competitions is Tom Carroll. Even played out of position in the second leg against Hearts, he showed that he already has a good range of passing and the vision to go with it.

If Redknapp is unable to work his magic on Modric then Spurs midfield will be severely lacking in it’s spark and ability to carve out openings for an Emmanuel Adebayor led strikeforce. This will lead to more responsibility for the wide players. Gareth Bale looked to be hitting his stride in pre season but like many of the team didn’t do himself justice in the first two Premier League games. On the other wing, there are even more concerns, Aaron Lennon has a groin injury but that aside has been woeful at the start of the season. Unlike the left with Andros Townsend, Steven Pienaar and even Niko Kranjcar there isn’t a lot of back up for Aaron. Unless Giovanni Dos Santos is finally going to be given a chance. It seems beyond belief – Redknapp is clearly not a fan despite the Mexicans abilities – but is the only viable option unless Iago Falque really outdoes himself.  Dos Santos is better suited to playing just off the striker and using him on the right could lead to similar problems suffered when Van der Vaart is deployed there. Both players are more comfortable drifting in onto their left foot and are prone to wander, leaving the right hand side woefully exposed.

If Redknapp is forced to use a solid, workmanlike central pairing then he risks his team becoming one dimensional and easy to nullify. As seen repeatedly in the Premier League last year, Gareth Bale can be marked out of games, particularly if opposition wingers are disciplined, track back and help their full back. Spurs Welsh wing wizard needs to really work on his game this year if he’s to be the main man. He can do it, he’s shown he has the skills, he just needs to develop his footballing intelligence and realise when his trademark ‘push the ball past the man and sprint’ trick is going to work and when he needs to try something different. If teams are able to keep Spurs wing threat quiet then it will most likely result in repeated Dawson ‘Hollywood balls’ punted at Adebayor’s head. Having watched that happen every time Crouch played over the past couple of seasons, it really isn’t what Spurs fans want to see and can be just as easily snubbed out as a threat by marking the men looking for the knock downs.

All this brings us back to Redknapp and Modric and finding a way to motivate the Croat playmaker to perform while wearing the ‘chicken badge’. It’s clear that Modric wants away but he must now accept that he’s a Spurs player until January at least and will be expected to play his part or rot in Spurs non-existent reserves. Harry Redknapp may even use the Chelsea move as a motivating tool, telling him that if he’s not playing or playing poorly then Chelsea may drop their interest.

All of this will surely challenge Redknapp to the fullest, he’s already said it’s been the toughest pre-season he’s ever had – of course no mention of how tough it’s been for the club – and this could well be his hardest season in football. Obviously the defeats against the best two teams in the country need to be taken in perspective but even so, confidence appears low and it’s crucial that the team that takes the field are all convinced that their team mates are all on the same page. Redknapp has repeatedly said what a good professional Modric is, only to then destroy that image by revealing Luka’s state of mind to the press. He now needs to turn it back around and get Modric on the pitch, performing to his best. If he can do that, Spurs can get themselves into a position to challenge for the top four and then if Modric is still wanted by Chelsea, targets can be identified that can take his place for what will be a fraction of any fee received for Modric.

Just as vital as Redknapp getting Modric on the pitch in the right mindset is the Spurs faithful getting behind the manager and team. Modric is not going to be everyone’s favourite player but whilst he’s in Lilywhite needs to be supported, even if it’s only for a few more months. Those months could be crucial in shaping Spurs, not just this season but for many to come.


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