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Spurs going backwards

Tottenham will struggle until they find creative midfielders who have the capability to unlock ranks of massed defenders

Graeme Souness Sunday Times Published: 1 December 2 1! T"TT#$%&' must wish they could borrow some creative midfielders from &rsenal and (helsea) the *ondon rivals they are striving to supplant in the (hampions *eague places) for today+s game against 'anchester ,nited& /enger has Santi (a0orla) 'esut "0il) &aron 1amsey and 2ack /ilshere producing goals and feeding chances to "livier Giroud- 2ose 'ourinho can leave out 2uan 'ata) with "scar) #den %a0ard and 3rank *ampard all scoring regularly- That+s before you consider /illian at (helsea) whom Tottenham wanted) or Tomas 1osicky at &rsenal&ndre 4illas56oas lacks such range and 7uality- Despite spending the proceeds of Gareth 6ale+s 89:m sale) and then some) on seven players) Tottenham have not replaced the influence of the 2;5year5old /elshman6ale scored 21 league goals last season and 1! made a direct difference to the outcome of matches) amounting to 2; points< saw Tottenham lose 15 at &rsenal at the start of this season and) despite the defeat) < was impressed- They looked solid and had a never5say5die attitude against an &rsenal team who had lots of the ball- < thought: =This team will be hard to play against>) and that+s e?actly how it turned out @ until they shipped si? goals at 'anchester (ity last Sunday(onceding goals hasn+t been their main problem this season- Scoring them has- &t the #mirates < also noticed how little creativity Tottenham had) but

e?pected that aspect of their play would improve- <t obviously has not) given the goals they have failed to score since- They have only five at home in the league) compared with (ity+s 2A- /here would you rather have a season ticketB Their central midfielders are too similar- #tienne (apoue) Paulinho and Sandro are honest types who will graft all day) but < can+t see any of them making clever passes in the last third for 1oberto Soldado- < feel sorry for him- %e is a top player who will score goals with the right supply but he+s suffering from having those types of players behind him- <deally) Soldado wants to play with someone who can play him in- (hristian #riksen is meant to do that but he+s inCured until (hristmas- 'ousa Dembele dribbles with the ball) taking too many touches before lifting his head- Strikers want people who deliver it 7uickly- #rik *amela is a young man you could nurse into a team going well- Tottenham are not<f they want to see how 7uickly and simply a ball can be fed through midfield to make chances and goals) then < refer them to the masterclass 1yan Giggs gave against a woeful 6ayer *everkusen on /ednesday- The improvement he made compared with the combination of 'arouane 3ellaini and Tom (leverley at (ardiff last week) when ,nited had : D of possession) was startling- < am an enormous fan of Giggs) there should be a statue of him outside "ld Trafford Cust like 3ergie+s) but his standing as ,nited+s best midfielder is an indictment of his younger colleagues- /ould a ; 5year5old get in 6arcelona+s midfieldB <n 6ayern 'unich+sB <n 1eal 'adrid+sB $o) no and no6ale does get in 1eal+s midfield and he has a star 7uality Tottenham+s recruits don+t possess- They don+t have the class in the last third to cut people open- They will tackle and get behind the ball at every opportunity but they don+t offer what Tottenham supporters want) a bit of e?citement and goalscoring) at /hite %art *ane especially) football that will get you out of your seat- Tottenham fans are a bit like /est %am+s) 'anchester ,nited+s and *iverpool+s in that respect- &t those clubs you will be under pressure if you are not on the front foot all the time and scoring goals- That+s where Spurs are<n saying all that) they have a healthy group of players who should be looking to finish fourth or fifth- The problem for 4illas56oas is that they were there when he walked through the door to replace %arry 1edknapp in the summer of 2 12-

Tottenham had finished fourth) fifth and fourth in the previous three seasons) playing a brand of football that was acceptable to nearly all their supportersThey didn+t 7ualify for the (hampions *eague the second time because (helsea won the #uropean (up while finishing si?th in #ngland*ooking at them last Sunday) Tottenham are not going to make fourth this time unless there is a big improvement from the players or the tactics change- They have played with a great deal of caution) too much at times&re they a stronger group than they were with %arryB Their overall strength is better but without 6ale they lack that certain Ce ne sais 7uoi) that sprinkling of magic dust<f you go back past 1edknapp to 2uande 1amos) what they seemed to have then was the continental approach) where there is a coach and he is given the players to work with- They were drifting and going nowhere with that for a year) then decided in "ctober 2 9 to go back to what has worked in #ngland for decades: a football man who wants a bigger say in who comes in and who leaves the football club- &ll of a sudden) they started to do wellThen they thought: =%ang on a minute) < know we are doing well but not well enough-> They have gone back) for whatever reason) to what they tried to get away from with %arry) they seem infatuated with it&nd the resultB Tottenham are now going sideways or backwards- 'uch like their midfielders+ passes-