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Happy New Year to you all and may 2011 be as successful and enjoyable for Tottenham Hotspur as 2010 has been.

Writing back in July, I exercised caution about where the club were in terms of their Champions League campaign and it proved well founded, after being 0-3 down with 30 odd minutes gone against Young Boys.  But Spurs have proved quick learners in the competition and turned around that big losing situation into a manageable one, before getting into the group stage, where things have become better with each game. 

The approach I have thought we should take for a long time is to play to our strengths and give the opposition more problems to cope with than they might be used to.  Our attacking options have been the way to impose ourselves on other teams and our defence then has comparatively less to do.  With Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart in midfield, we have two top class operators, who offer different styles, both of which can hurt other teams.  Modric darts and prompts with his little runs and is strong on the ball ... much to the chagrin of Arsene Wenger.  VDV is also the perpetrator of little runs, but his talent is arriving in the box at the right time.  His goal ratio is excellent and with our strikers not prolific this season, has been invaluable to the results Tottenham have achieved.

So, entering the new year, Spurs sit fourth in the league above Chelsea, but behind Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.  There is a Third Round FA Cup tie at home to Charlton Athletic ahead, with a little beyond that a two legged tie with AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League awaiting.  So, with a transfer window just starting to open, who will Spurs buy and will they leave it to the last minute again ?

With injuries hitting our central defenders, despite having seven in that area of the team, a young fit and strong centre-half might be on Harry's wish list, while another forward should be a target if we loss Robbie Keane, who seems to be on his way out and has been since arranging the 2009 Christmas party behind Redknapp's back.  The Irishman has been a peripheral figure, but has not been the same player we sold to Liverpool and his experience in Europe should have been a useful asset to Tottenham, but his falling out and niggling injuries mean that we have seen the best of the forward who has hit over 100 goals for the club.

David Bentley has been a disappointment since he joined four years ago for a huge fee.  His displays for Blackburn Rovers have never been replicated at Tottenham and Harry's comments about him picking up little injuries on a Friday might hide what he really wants to say about the winger.  It is a shame, because there is a player in there somewhere, but Bentley is the only person who can bring that player out.  If he was doing it week in, week out in training and on the pitch, then he would be un-droppable, but you assume that Redknapp sees that this isn't the case.  Whether the club will get anywhere near what we paid for him is highly unlikely, but his wages could be employed elsewhere and some money can be put in the kitty of anyone will take him on. 

Of course, the big rumour is that Bentley will be replaced by the man who he was supposed to be the new version of.  David Beckham is Bentley's idol and he styled himself on the former England captain, but perhaps should have studied his dedication to get where he is rather than what hairstyle he had every week.  Beckham is 35 and is still a good passer of the ball, but if he comes to White Hart Lane, what will be his role ?  If it is a straight replacement for Bentley, he will be on the bench occasionally and mostly out of the match-day 18.  If he comes as cover for Aaron Lennon, then it will hardly be a like for like match.  Beckham now relies on others to do his running and his benefit will be to land balls into the path of Jermain Defoe or on the head of Peter Crouch or both in Pav's case.  But it means that there will be extra pressure on the midfield to cover him and on the defence, as it will mean on less player to track back.  Harry says that it is not a shirt-selling exercise in bringing Beckham in, but if he is with the club for three months, where will Harry find time to play him ?  The league is a priority; the Champions League is a priority, so does that leave him only FA Cup games to play in up to the semi-final stage ?  It is a good move for helping us get the Olympic Stadium (more of which later), but any more than using him as Redknapp has stated as a role model for younger players, it is hard to see the part he is going to play for the club.

Beyond that, there is not too many places that need filling in the squad.  Maybe something has to be done about the goalkeeping situation, as we now have four senior goalkeepers and quite a number of promising younger goalies.  Pletikosa will return to Spartak when his loan ends and Ben Alnwick really needs to move on to play football rather  than be stuck in the nether-world of non-first team football and reserve friendlies.   Cudicini also needs to be moved on, as he has not established himself in the first team and is not really a challenge for Gomes, so an up-and-coming keeper such as Scott Loach would be a good buy to keep both him and Heurelho on his toes.

But other things might consume much of Tottenham's riches, with the new stadium still a bone of contention.  To move to Stratford or to stay at the Lane ?  Not much of a question given the right conditions, but what will the development at Northumberland Park be like ?  The arguments about the historic buildings have meant a re-jig of the plans and the complaint about the traffic chaos on a match-day when there will be a big Sainsbury's at one end of the ground was one that anyone who isn't a planning consultant might have foreseen from several miles away.  And that might be where Spurs end up with AEG partnering the club in a bid for the Olympic Stadium site ... as there appears to be an intention to knock the stadium down and start again if they are successful in getting the nod to take over after the Games.  Not wanting a running track around the pitch, it appears that the deal will be to upgrade the facilities at Crystal Palace to restore it as the National Sports Centre.  That will leave the club and AEG to build a new stadium that is suitable for their purposes and might be at odds with the Olympic Legacy Commission's aim to leave something worthwhile in Stratford after the Games.

Well, there will be a big shopping centre, which wouldn't have been there if the Olympics hadn't gone to East London.  There will be a massive swimming pool, which will be less than half a mile from the Atherton Suite in Romford Road, which is under-used compared to 20 years ago.  that may be because of the cost and I can't imagine that the use of the Olympic Aquatic Centre will be any cheaper, leaving it as a facility that will only be available to those who can afford it and not something there for all.  As for the athletics ground, there are other sports facilities in and around the borough of Newham, which might be better used, but it would leave a 20,000-seater stadium if nobody came in to occupy it after 2012.

I am sure that the owners of Westfields would want a major tenant with a large through-flow of people who would also use their shopping centre.  Would West Ham United give them the footfall they needed and with Newham being one of the hardest hit boroughs in the country by the Government's public sector cuts, could they really justify putting money into West Ham's bid for the stadium, when services will be cut to residents ?  And the longer-term prospects of the two bids would surely weigh against the Irons, who are just bubbling above the relegation zone as we speak, but having played more games than those below them.

It would be the ideal to stay in N17 with a ground that we could be proud of and one that suited the needs of the club as they hope to step further into the European elite.  But the one stumbling block with White Hart Lane has been and will, for a long time, be the lack of an underground station close to the ground.  Transport for London appear to be getting a large lump sum from the planning process involved with the Northumberland development, but there appears to be not a lot coming back in return for it.  A couple of platforms at Northumberland Park station in the Victoria Line marshalling yards could do the trick and diverting a few trains on match-days wouldn't break the TfL bank ... would it ??  Think of the extra revenue they might make from it.

Contrast and compare with Stratford.  Jubilee Line, Central Line, Docklands Light Railway, British Rail connections from London, Herts, Cambs and Essex already in place.  And the Stratford International station taking trains from the continent and Crossrail still to come.  Is it any surprise that Daniel Levy is hedging his bets in case the opportunity arises. 

Today Sebastian Coe has come out in support of West Ham's bid for the stadium and it would be reasonable to assume that they would go with the local side, but finance talks loudly these days and AEG being a major player in the entertainment world might persuade some that this would be a way for the venue to offer a range of options should anyone want to use them. 

Whatever happens, we have the football that Spurs are playing to savour.  The dismantling of Inter Milan was a joy to behold and the resilience of the side is now coming to the fore to add to the attacking flair they have shown.  It is not always about winning pretty, as there will be occasions that require a more pragmatic approach to eek out points from games where we have to grind out results.  The ten men wins over Christmas against Aston Villa and Newcastle United showed a belief that is being instilled in the players from going from mid-table to the top four and into the top European competition, where they have held their won against the big names so far.

The additions to the team have been astute in building a squad where everyone has a part to play and there is cover for the injuries we have already suffered this season.  With a long way to go this season, the depth of the squad will be tested again and it will be a marathon with the Champions League games coming back into the frame in February.  And that takes us back to the transfer window and who comes and goes.

Players come and go, but at the moment, one worrying thing is the gathering momentum to get Harry Redknapp to be the new England manager.  It would be a difficult decision as to who would replace him should he take over from Capello when he moves on in the summer of 2012.  Maybe it needs someone to come in and work with Harry now, as the grooming process would help assimilate a new man into the post.  However, it could be that they have Tim Sherwood in mind, as he is assuming more responsibility with the development squad.  Much like Redknapp in his approach, working under Harry could shape him into the manager to take over.  He would be untried, but then Spurs have been down the route of experienced European and British managers before, so would it be a major departure from that track ?

It is a long way off, but I am sure that it is something that Daniel Levy had considered.  He seems to have a plan for the club on and off the field and has done exceedingly well to put Tottenham Hotspur where they are now.  Somewhere that we had all hoped they would be for a long time now.

Thanks Daniel.  I guess not many people say that, but the big decisions have to be made and at last they are paying off.

Here's to the future.

Keep the faith.




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