My thanks to: Lucien the Spud from beyond the big pond.
First of all congratulations to the boys for the win against the west Londoners-mentioning their name is just about as irritating as a grating sound on ones’ dental assets.
It would seem rather curious that the subject of this article is a player who didn’t even make it into that match day squad. I am talking about Mr Toby “Outtathisworld” Alderweireld.
I am not going to delve into the apparent contradiction that Poch has been taking his time to re-integrate him into the first team while the Belgian coach gave Toby a full 90minutes just last week. It is apparent that the Belgium coach seems to disagree with Poch on the fitness argument. Further difference of opinion; Poch sees Toby as a centre back while a series of Belgium coaches think both Toby and Jan can only cut it at right back and left back.
Staying on that line of thought it got me thinking and I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that our current full back options don’t really set one’s heart on fire. Both right back options are lovely lads but…a big but…one of them has not quite grabbed his chance since Walker walked and the other one maybe needs the benefit of a pre-season.
Our Opponents are getting stronger by the season both within the prem league and champions league. Despite shooting ourselves in the foot against Juve I believe that inferior craft in defence proved our undoing – what with us relying on a 21 year old CB and 2 slowish fullbacks who have failed to compensate for their lack of athleticism by sharpening their footballing mind.
I digress a little here but hands up any I who has ever witnessed a John Terry sprinting gait? I have only ever witnessed a fast trot out of Mr John Terry. But he made a more than decent defender from being a good reader of the game. More specifically, a good early spotter of danger. That is all that Trips and Davies had to master but they don’t seem to be chaps who are fond of doing extra home work and will only diligently do the mandatory stuff. Both showed glimpses of that defensive savvy against Madrid but then they reverted back to type. The waters that Spurs are swimming in these days means that the Spurs defence is now facing world class or almost world class attackers and “decent” fullback tag is not good enough anymore.
Back to Toby, since he always plays at right back for Belgium “why don’t Poch shift him a few feet east to play at right back”. Folks, isn’t that a massive upgrade at right back? “Now why didn’t I think of that before” –you must be thinking. It will be like Spurs have signed a new, top quality right back. Yes folks, I am proposing that Spurs ship Toby not to Man C or Man U, Barcelona or Madrid but only as far as Spurs first team right back position.
I am sure you can already think of many good football reasons for this argument. For starters, the chap has been happy enough to play at right back for years for his country, the chap doesn’t want out of Spurs (I think) he just wants a pay rise, it’s an upgrade on Walker, not as fast, but a better defender and passer of the ball. Just Imagine, upgrading on Walker while only doubling the salary-no inflationary transfer fees to cough out, no bedding in time required while adjusting to new coach and new teammates and he can continue to mentor young Sanchez and he easily slots to a back three whenever required.
I think Toby has the right aptitude to balance a rather slightly immature Spurs side? Rewind to Spurs last ‘ champions league run. The thing that struck me after Spurs 6-2 aggregate wins over Dortmund was the fact that we played a brand of counter-attacking football that was still as attractive as our usually front-foot swashbuckling style. Even more striking for me was Toby’s post match comment in the first of those wins that Spurs played more like “adults”. To me that sounds like a tactically mature player with a ruthless streak that gets results.
Wild speculation would be that Toby and Poch probably have tactical difference of opinion when approaching high profile opposing teams- could it be that Toby is more tactically mature than Poch? (Ooh how can you say that about our dear leader!-gulp, gulp) but hear me out here, it is not Poch ‘s fault that he is a young coach and after the Juventus debacle even Ericksen thought that Spurs made school boy errors at Wembley.
Now… if the team played to the coaches instructions against Juve then it stands to reason that it is actually the coach who made school boy errors. Right?
A possible mitigating factor for Poch is that the team simply lacked an on-field leader who is also capable of making in-game decisions- much like an auxiliary coach. You know, someone who spots danger and acts before the coach even has time to disseminate new instructions. That would be a captain’s job but our captain acts as our goalie as well (pun intended) and communication with team mates is difficult because of their positional disconnect. I have in mind a Patrick Vieira type or a Roy Keane. Our man Toby should be kept and actually promoted with or without the accompanying arm-band. He has the required drive and reading of the game without the animal aggro of these retired chaps. He would be a good counter-balance to Poch.
Moving on to the business case for keeping Toby, I am no math genius so I will make it short and sweet. Keeping Toby by upgrading our right back position equals better chances of Champions league progress which comes with tens of millions more income. Our dysfunctional neighbours literally built their stadium (“The Library”) with champions’ league money (the gods of football withdrew the champions league privilege the moment they paid their last instalment).
Much rather sell two of our current fullbacks. It should be easy enough to get £15-17 million apiece (recall how much we got for Kev. Wimmer at Stoke City). Thats £30-34million plus about 20 million that Toby would save us the topping-up amount required to buy an excellent right back in today’s inflationary market. That comes up to about £55 million. £55 million is the kind of figure that would get Levy salivating to sell Toby in the first place. No division or square roots in my math just the odd addition-subtraction sums here and there.
I would not be surprised if these simple but visionary math doesn’t leave our finance gurus at Hotspur Way red faced.