Spurs: Bentaleb Is Our Best Young Academy Player Since Ledley King
Tottenham’s fortunes have fluctuated so wildly this season that even during the course of one game the fans’ outlook can plumb depths and soar skyward several times. So it was on Saturday.
After a lacklustre first half against Crystal Palace, suspicions that Tim Sherwood’s disheveled appearance and cack-handed employment of the English language were signs that he really wasn’t a man of the required calibre were being readily confirmed. But 45 minutes and a reasonably straightforward two-nil victory later, the faithful left the ground wondering whether he might even survive the summer if he can keep up his excellent points return - 13 out of 15 since taking over - and deliver the team into the top four.
The board are doubtless experiencing the same vacillations as the fans and the indications are that they wont be spending the money this month on a top drawer replacement for the departing Jermain Defoe in case there’s a new manager to put it at the disposal of in the summer. Defoe will hang around for some weeks yet and he showed on Saturday how precious his last few appearances for the club might be when he came off the bench to wrap up the points with Tottenham's second goal. If there's concern about a thinning of forward options for Sherwood, in other positions he will have more choices before long. Sandro, Townsend, Kaboul, Lamela, Paulinho, Sigurdsson and Vertonghen are all due back from injury in the next couple of weeks and the manager has suggested he might start playing a lone striker in some games which means either Adebayor, Soldado or Kane backed up by one from Eriksen, Lamela, Chadli or Holtby in the number 10 role.
All this is reason for tentative optimism and an added bonus is the form of Nabil Bentaleb, a player that just a month ago most Spurs fans had barely heard of. He started again on Saturday and although he tired towards the end he looked solid and classy and threatens to be the best young player to emerge from within since Ledley King.
Sherwood seems to have turned round the dire home form and will hope to continue the excellent away performances with next week’s visit to Swansea. His unsophisticated persona is largely mirrored by his tactical approach but he keeps insisting that football is a simple game and that complex formations and game plans are counter-productive. If he's right - if it really is about good, committed, confident players expressing themselves - there's a chance that Tottenham’s big, high quality squad will maintain its momentum and finish in a Champions League slot after all.
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