Last week it was announced that Spurs striker Jermain Defoe will be trading London for Canada next month as he embarks on a new journey with MLS side Toronto FC.
The transfer has sparked wide speculation not only with regards to the England man’s future but also to that of Tottenham. Some have criticised the north London club for allowing the lethal finisher to leave but with a fee of £6million, for a 31-year-old fringe player, it isn’t hard to understand the reasons for sanctioning the deal.
Defoe’s departure is simply the latest change in what has been a hectic twelve months for a club who are determined to force their way into the top 4 of English football; it’s the dawning of a new era at White Hart Lane and those ambitions may finally be realised.
Spurs Go Marching On
Ever since Harry Redknapp led the team to Champions League football in 2010, Spurs have been fixated on transforming that one-off appearance into a seasonal tradition. They’ve gone mightily close but a return to the competition has so far eluded the white half of north London.
In their bid to become one of Europe’s elite, Tottenham have at least tried to make leaps forward both on and off the field. The club may have failed in their attempts to become tenants of the Olympic Stadium, losing out to rivals West Ham, but it highlights the desire and aspirations to climb to the next level.
Perhaps sanctioning the sale of Defoe signals that the club now require an even higher calibre of player and serves a stark reminder to their rivals that Spurs are on the up.
To Dare Is To Do
Whilst those around them take shortcuts to short-term success, Tottenham pride themselves in taking the sustained approach.
The respective owners of Chelsea and Manchester City bought overnight success with lavish spending of ludicrous sums. As a result, both clubs have regularly posted annual losses in the tens of millions and you cannot help but worry for their futures once the billionaires grow tired of their latest playthings.
That’s not to say Daniel Levy doesn’t invest in the club. Summer spending in 2013 exceeded £100 million, although the majority of that funding came via the sale of Gareth Bale. Spurs were criticised for selling their most prized possession but when a player wants to leave the club and a club like Real Madrid come calling with a bid of £85 million, then there is only one possible outcome.
Despite selling their best player, Tottenham have remained in the hunt for a top 4 finish. Some of the summer additions haven’t quite lived up to expectation but their position as a team is far greater now that they aren’t relying so heavily on one player; if Bale was absent last season then it was hard to see where Spurs would find goals, this year the burden has been shared amongst a number of stars and Spurs look far healthier for it.
The new look Spurs squad took some time to gel but are now starting to look like a side genuinely capable of posing a sustained threat to the top 4. Some will argue they still lack a genuine world star, a player of Bale’s ilk, but the general standard on display at White Hart Lane is far greater than that of last season and Defoe’s departure is another indication that Tottenham are ready to reach the next level.
Sherwood Era Starting Bright
When AVB was sacked earlier this season, some questioned whether it would signal the end of Tottenham’s top 4 ambitions for another year – especially as the Portuguese manager’s reign had ended in the humiliating 5-0 battering by Liverpool. However, the team has been galvanized under the guidance of Tim Sherwood and now appear to be a genuine force.
In recent weeks, Spurs have claimed impressive victories at St Mary’s and, more pleasingly, Old Trafford. Combined with a return to form at home, Tottenham once again look ready to challenge for Champions League qualification.
The only real blemishes on Tottenham’s record since the appointment of Sherwood were the cup defeats to West Ham and Arsenal. Those losses will have hurt Spurs fans but in the grand scheme of things it might be for the best as they can now focus their domestic attentions solely on the Premier League challenge. Meanwhile they could still claim a trophy on the European scene via the Europa League, a competition that they should at least reach the latter stages of.
Sherwood has unquestionably brought a new lease of life to White Hart Lane. Sunday’s 3-1 win away at Swansea not only preserved their 100% league record in 2014 but also moved them up to 5th, joint with 4th placed Liverpool on 43 points.
Arguably the biggest turn around has been that of Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togolese striker was cast into the shadows by AVB but was thrust into the spotlight by Sherwood and the former-Arsenal forward has certainly repaid his new manager’s faith.
Adebayor’s return of 5 goals since Sherwood’s appointment has made him the first-choice striker at White Hart Lane. With £26 summer signing, Roberto Soldado, a prominent feature of Tottenham’s plans it is hard to argue that now is the right time for Defoe’s departure.
Time Right For Defoe To Exit
Nobody can ever question the achievements of Defoe at Spurs – he is in the club’s top 5 all-time goal scorers and additionally leads the way in Europe with 23 strikes to his name – but at 31, his best days are behind him.
Of ten goals scored this season, only 1 has come in the Premier League and that is despite making 13 league appearances. Many believe Defoe has been harshly treated but the stats don’t lie and both Adebayor and Soldado are rightly ahead of the England man in Tim Sherwood’s pecking order.
It wasn’t that long ago that Tottenham made the mistake of re-signing Robbie Keane and the Irishman never replicated the glory of his first spell. Bringing Defoe back to White Hart Lane in 2009 was definitely the right decision and the lethal finisher has helped drag Tottenham towards the next stage. However, now that they are on the verge of taking another step forward there simply isn’t room for the 31-year-old.
At £6 million, Spurs simply couldn’t say no.
Defoe wasn’t quite surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane, but it is hard to envisage any circumstances in which he’d have returned to being a first-choice selection. A move away from London is probably right for the player, and it’s certainly right for the club.
A new era has dawned at White Hart Lane, and Spurs fans should be excited.