twin trouble

30.3.2002

When all the talk is of needing a new striker, I must say that I am quite sceptical.

We have a lot of forwards, but they are all much of a muchness.  All incapable of taking the chances offered up to them.  All incapable of staying fit for the majority of a Premier League season.  All getting on without showing their best form for Tottenham this season.  The exception to this list is Sergei Rebrov, who is a good striker, but is not played or is played and not in a system that suits his talents.

So, where does this leave the club's forward line for next season ?

Chris Armstrong might return, but will never be the player he was.  Les Ferdinand will be another year older and is missing too many chances as it is now.  Steffen Iversen will never be a 25 goals a season man, although he does have attributes that might mean he is retained, they do not come under the natural born goalscorer heading.  Yannick Kamanan can't wait for a first team chance, so will be off and Steven Ferguson is still coming along in the reserves after being injured for quite a while this season.

There is not a lot that can be done with the resources available at the moment and so there is a call for a new striker.  Kevin Phillips, Bobby Zamora, Tore Andre Flo, Nuno Gomes ... anyone really.  But do we need a new striker ?

My suggestion is that we need two.  Strikers usually operate in partnerships and this is something that has been absent form the Spurs side for some time now.  Archibald and Crooks, Greaves and Gilzean, Chivers and Peters.  All pairings that caused havoc and when it wasn't one, it was the other who was knocking the ball into the net.

The need for one striker might be valid, but whoever it is will have to try and mesh their skills with one of the forwards left after the summer cull.  It would be hard to fit in with any of them I would suggest.  Of the players we have available in this department, the best combination has been Iversen and Rebrov.  We haven't seen the best of them, but they at least look like they know where the ball is going to end up when they play together, when they are both fit and interested.  Les hasn't struck up an understanding with any of his partners.  I Suppose the only other combination that might rekindle thoughts of the past is the Armstrong-Sheringham pair, but with Teddy lying deeper these days, it might not be like it once was.

So, a new signing would have to establish a rapport with one of the Spurs players already in the forward line.  So, would it be easier to bring in two forwards together, who would complement each other instead of asking them to be part of a mix-and-match twinning.  Two new forwards who could play together and develop a partnership could see the chances stuck away with frightening regularity.

Obviously, money is a factor in this equation.  We know that the coffers are not overflowing, so there might have to be a split in spending if we are to get two new forwards.  Some would go on one of the signings, with the rest having to be funded from the sale of Rebrov.  It is obvious that Hoddle does not fancy the Ukrainian; whether that is because he is the signing of another manager or because he is too easily knocked off the ball and thinks he will not be able to withstand the physical demands of the Premiership, who knows.  Hoddle's refusal to play him and Rebrov's disinterested approach when he has been picked lately can mean only one end to the tale.

He will not fetch as much as we paid for him, but then whatever we get for him must be wisely re-invested in the side.  There are other areas that need strengthening ... the creative midfield position being one.  This is likely to be resolved in the summer very cheaply, when Jamie Redknapp makes the move back to London at the end of his contract.  This time it is probably his wife who is homesick.  Alternatively, depending on which papers/websites you read, Steffan Effenberg will be coming to a midfield near you soon.  He would add stability and a presence that Spurs again have been lacking for a long time.

But the main problem would be the resolution in the goalscoring department.  The chances are there, but the ratio of conversion is poor.  We have hit the woodwork more than any other Premier League side this season, so we are not far away from making the big step forward, but will it be possible to take that step with hands sunk deep in pockets ??  There is talent out there and spotting it shouldn't be a problem.  Paying for it might be though.

Bruce Castle

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