Inside the Opposition: Tottenham (Part 3)

Our final fan interview this week is with ScroobiusMac, another top Spurs fan I came across on Twitter some time ago who is well worth a follow. I asked him about Dembele and Soldado, and wanted to know whether he thought Aguero and Negredo were a better partnership than Rooney and Van Persie.

How do you assess the job AVB has done since taking charge?

Bit of a mixed bag really. He’s had to cope with losing our best player, twice. For all the talk of ‘big spending Spurs’ we’ve only actually reinvested what we recouped in both summers. We’ve certainly become a tougher team to beat under AVB too. We’ve played some decent football last season, although even then it was patchy. We also took record points last season but to no avail. I don’t blame AVB too much for finishing fifth as we didn’t really capitulate on our lead as we had done in previous seasons we just very slightly stalled as Arsenal hit top gear and then some.

However, parts of AVB’s reign have baffled me. Gallas seemingly being above Caulker in the picking order last year, Friedel starting the first 9 or so games last season, Naughton ever playing left-back in a game of any importance, Sandro not starting every single game he’s fit for and a lot of line-ups which are just a player or two out of what seems optimal. We’ve majorly lacked fluency this year and whilst part of that is due to new players learning each others movements part of it also due to the tactics which have been used. I’d like to see AVB become a bit more flexible in order to change games and to find solutions between games which address some of the issues we’ve been having. There’s a long way to go this season but if we expect to have a decent shot at getting in the top 4 I think AVB needs to improve as a manager as much as we do as a team.

I’m interested to know what you make of Soldado. He hasn’t set the world alight yet, but he strikes me as one of those forwards who does a lot of work that goes unnoticed.

His movement for the first 70 minutes of games is terrific. He’s always making space and finding runs between the defenders but he’s never picked out. For Valencia he relied on through-balls and cut-backs. We very rarely play through balls and any cut-backs that we do try tend to be through a congested box and so are much less effective. We’ve paid £26m for a striker and are not playing to his strengths at all; it’s like playing Andy Carroll and not attempting crosses into the box or long balls. I’m not sure how his situation is going to pan out. He’s not a bad player but he is a limited one. Unless we start playing to his strengths he’s going to be a failure.

Dembele is an extremely talented player but I’ve heard he might be on the move. What’s your take on that?

I think there are a couple of factors in Dembele’s current situation. I still feel he’s struggling a bit with injury – he should have had hip surgery last season but played through it and hasn’t really looked his best this season at all. Secondly, he was absolutely terrific with Sandro as the anchor and playing in the more driving role mixing his great dribbling with physicality in breaking up attacks. Alongside Paulinho he’s looked lost – neither of them really takes responsibility for defending or attacking so the balance is totally lost. Of the two, Paulinho has been slightly better this season and seems to enjoy bombing forward which leaves Dembele hanging around the half-way line not really doing much and his positioning is nothing on Sandro’s when confronted with a counter attack.

He’s also a player that looks really good but doesn’t justify his selection from an attacking perspective. He doesn’t score enough goals and he doesn’t create enough chances either in a direct assist manner or in the defence splitting Modric way. He’s able to glide past two or three players but unable to pick a killer pass or finish it off.

Still having said that I’d be surprised if he left in January – we didn’t spend all summer strengthening in depth for the season only to immediately sacrifice that depth. Rumours of him leaving on loan to Newcastle or Villa are frankly hilarious – it’s just not a Levy move. The Napoli rumour, whilst I still doubt it, might have slightly more legs as if they offer the right price it could be attractive to all parties if we could invest elsewhere in January.

How much do you miss Ledley King?

A lot. An absolute legend in so many ways. I know it’s a cliché to say that if he’d had decent knees he could have been one of the greatest English defenders ever – but he really would have. Fortunately we have 4 decent centre-backs but still, when he was fit and on song, none of them touch Ledley.

A combined current City-Tottenham XI?

Zabaleta Kompany Nastasic Vertonghen
Sandro Yaya Toure
Silva Nasri
Aguero Negredo

Slightly favouring one team there.

Aguero and Negredo or Rooney and Van Persie?

Aguero and Negredo – they look like a striker partnership – Rooney and RVP look like two very talented players who happen to be playing in the same team.

Who’s the best City player in your opinion?

Silva, Kompany, Aguero. So hard to pick they all have fantastic qualities and arguably – for their position – have no real weaknesses.

I’m going for Aguero. His combination of lethal finishing, incredible movement and link-up play is just a joy to watch.

Who do you think will win the league?

City. You have the best squad with no obvious weaknesses and players able to fill in to multiple formations. Your problem so far – away form – can be accounted for by individual mistakes which can be relatively easily solved. I think Chelsea’s issues in putting together a fluid team will stop them from winning the league although they’ll come close. Also think Arsenal will fall away at some point. People talk about their problems if Giroud gets injured but even if he doesn’t then he won’t be able to play 50+ games and be firing on all cylinders all season and that issue translates to multiple positions in their squad.


3-1 City.

Follow ScroobiusMac on Twitter

Interview by Rob Pollard

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