king for an(y) day
I’m a yid and have been for 40 years. I love us, through thick and thin, and with the exception of a few players who disappoint me, I’m a supporter of those the gaffer has bought, whether they play, sit on the bench or remain in the backroom waiting for their chance.
I’m also a massive fan of Ledley.
BUT, and this is the but, I wonder if we are at the point of no return for our charismatic defender who has continual problems with injuries?
Ledley joined us in July 1997 as a trainee and slowly moved into the senior squad over the next few years in a number of positions before claiming his rightful place in the centre of defence. He played under numerous managers and gave his all, and rose to the challenge when Sol Scumball departed and replaced him with a true white and blue passion that we had come to expect, and demand, from our committed players.
In pre-season for the 2006 campaign, King injured his knee. He subsequently broke his metatarsal, but it was the knee injury that was to be the millstone around his neck. In the 06/07 season, we managed only three clean sheets against the top opposition in matches where King did not feature.
The next summer, Ledley had surgery, and we hoped the problem would be resolved. But four months into the season, there was still no sign of him. I remember thinking at the time that this is good news – he’s going to be excellent when he comes back, we’re not rushing his recuperation and he has every chance of being back to 100% with the extended lay-off.
He came back Boxing Day – a nice Xmas present, I again recall fondly. And he played well. Ledley is back. Wicked.
He played a few more games, then took us to the winner’s podium in the Carling Cup Final. Then, in April 2008, he was rested again for the remainder of the season. He had played just ten matches, only four of these in the Premiership. We all waited to see what the future would bring.
Harry was asked about Ledley. This is what he said…
‘There's no cure. There's no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It's just bone on bone. So it's just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover but having played on Monday night he's had less time than usual. He rarely trains, he mostly just goes to the gym to keep himself ticking over. But not running or anything like that. But even if he only plays 20 games a season, he's worth having because he's so good we have a much better chance of winning."
And this is my point. Where do we draw the line on Ledley ? His contract lasts until 2010 and I love him for the loyalty he has shown us, his tremendous talent, his ability as a captain to draw the best out of people. But he played (well) in the Liverpool match and his knee flared up, to the extent he could not have played against Hull. West Ham this coming weekend, and as I write, he is unlikely to feature.
Thus I have to question, given we’ve had a poor defensive record in the past although I feel far more comfortable with our current crop, is where does Ledley fit into the squad and does he even fit in? I’m a believer in maintaining consistency in the team, particularly in the defensive area. We need to have a good relationship, and while I was not always sure of Dawson and Woody together, King and Woody did well, as did King and Dawson – Ledley seeming to bring the best out of the Dawson. Benny seems strong in left back, we have Corluka and Hutton at right back and we know the boy Huddlestone can drop back and play in defence if required.
But for me, the central defensive partnership is vital, and if Ledley can only play half, or less Premiership games of the season, why are we willing to mix and match all the time? Am I being unfair, and believing we should use him because of his talent and because, according to Harry, we have a better chance of winning? Then again, his match fitness is never going to be great, he cannot train and he surely can only get worse, as he can never get better.
Ledley seems to be epitome of your favourite pooch. He gets older but there comes a time when the love for the animal being alive has to be replaced by the love for the animal not being in pain. And I’m not suggesting we put Ledley down ! But are we at the stage where Ledley needs to be put out of his misery since he must be as frustrated as anyone at his situation.
I’m thus inclined to think that we should look at and thank Ledley for his services to date, honour him for them, but look at building a new defensive partnership that does not involve him on the pitch. We have to build from the back and that should be, where possible, the same players week in and week out, to develop that understanding. Bassong has settled in already. Huddlestone likes his midfield role and should be allowed to develop there is he is to become the next Hoddle, or Waddle, for us.
I’d welcome thoughts … to email@example.com
Many thanks, a well deserved tribute to the King of WHL. A Rolls Royce of a player. It's only the great ones that make it look so easy.
I have the vaguest of memories of standing behind the goal in the Park Lane on a midweek night when he first came on. I'm sure he played up front and hit the bar and I'm pretty sure the announcer called him "Beverly" King - that's certainly what a few of us heard as we looked at each other wondering who the hell called this strapping lad Beverly!
I remember hearing whispers in Oct 08 that he was finished, the knee was crumbling, etc., but he continues to defy science and logic by consistently turning in performances of the highest quality with such apparent ease.
Injuries aside, I believe he is the best English CB, the best in the league and probably Europe. It didn't take Fabio Capello, a man who knows a decent defender, long to work it out. I reckon Fabio would play him every time if he thought the knee could be managed.
As you say Dawson looked half the player without Leds at his side. I think his absence contributed to Robinson's loss of form/confidence as well.
Without injury, I think he and Ferdinand ( forget the lumbering Micky Droy they call JT) would have made England pretty much watertight these past 10 years. It was criminal how he was treated after his fantastic performance when he stepped in against France (in the Euros?) then dropped for the next game - but at least making his decision to return home for the birth of his child a straightforward one.
You make a valid point about drawing a line and allowing another defensive partnership to develop. I guess what I'm saying, in a round about way, is that if he only plays 10-20 games a season, he's worth it.
I'd probably even accept him just playing against the likes of the Woolwich Wanders, Chavski and the red lot up north. And when he really can't do it anymore, we need to keep him in the club so he can help develop the likes of Dawson and Bassong (and Dervite?).
Personally, I'd like to hear a chorus of the Hoddle song dedicated to Ledders each and every game. Its about time we stopped name checking the Judas and gave Leds a fitting song. He'll probably end up walking with a stick and or a limp for the rest of his life once he finishes playing and he's prepared to do that for the Spurs - a true legend.
Ledley's the King of WHL
And you have got to love it when he goes on a bender as well- clearly can't handle a drink !
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