This week Team Selection focuses on the best two central midfield players you’ve seen playing for Spurs. This is probably the most difficult choice you’ve had to make yet as over the years Tottenham have had such an array of top class, international midfield players.
From the 1950s through to the present day the names have changed, the role may be different but Tottenham have been fortunate to have been able to rely on a number of outstanding central midfield players. In the 1950s, they were half-backs and inside-forwards, then they became midfield players, now we have defensive and creative midfielders with a player like Rafael Van der Vaart fulfilling the role behind a lone striker. Two central midfield players are to be selected for a 4 – 4 – 2 formation with goalkeeper, defenders and wide midfielders already in place.
The general rule is that any player nominated must have made at least 100 appearances for Spurs but as always there will be the exception to the rule.
Central Midfield Players
He captained the successful Tottenham team at the beginning of the 1950s and was the on-field general who was the link between the manager, Arthur Rowe, and the players. Ron Burgess as the powerhouse left-half was an integral part of this team with his leadership qualities and driving force making him one of the best attacking half-backs of his time.
Baily spent ten years as a player with Tottenham from 1946. He was one of the game’s best inside-forwards and a player ideally suited to the one-touch football of the ‘Push and Run’ team. After his playing days were over he returned to Spurs in 1963 as assistant to Bill Nicholson. He enjoyed 11 successful years until Nicholson’s resignation in 1974.
Harmer linked the years between the success of the early 1950s and the beginning of the ’60s. Nicknamed ‘The Charmer’, he was a crowd favourite and was extremely confident on the ball with ball-juggling tricks. Lightly built he was the team’s main creator in the mid to late 1950s. Missed out on the ‘Double’ team with the arrival of John White.
The brains, inspiration and captain behind the ‘Double’ team, he was Bill Nicholson’s right-hand man on the pitch. Signed from Aston Villa in 1954, he gave Spurs another ten years and enjoyed amazing success in his final years. Age and Injury finally caught up with him, retiring in 1964, aged 38.
The power-house of the ‘Double’ team, he also possessed great skill to go along with his combative style. In the words of Brian Clough, “Tottenham Hotspurâ€™s greatest player. David would kick his own grandmother in his burning ambition to win tackles and games.â€
John White has often been the forgotten man of the ‘Double’ success. In a team of star players his contribution was sometimes overlooked but an analysis of the Tottenham success of the early 1960s clearly shows the immense part he played. Creatively and with goals scored he was one of the best midfield players and his tragic death was a very sad loss.
Signed in 1964 as a replacement for Blanchflower, it took Mullery time to settle and win over the fans. Through time he achieved that and brought great competitiveness to midfield. Enjoyed success in 1967 FA Cup and in early 1970s, returning to lead the team to the club’s first UEFA Cup win in 1972.Steven Perryman
The young Perryman, aged 17 years, brought drive, enthusiasm, consistency to the Spurs midfield in 1969 and 17 years later he was still at White Hart Lane. A loyal servant to Spurs he played a major part in every success during his time with Tottenham.
Signed from West Ham in the deal which took Jimmy Greaves to Upton Park, Peters brought subtlety and goals to the Tottenham midfield. He linked well with Alan Gilzean and Martin Chivers as the team enjoyed successful years in the 1970s before signing for Norwich City.Glen Hoddle
Glenn Hoddle came into the team as a young player and stayed for the next 12 years. His talent was never in doubt and his ability to pick a pace, either long or short, was unequalled. He provided goals of outstanding quality as he showed with a goal on his first Tottenham start at Stoke and on his England debut against Bulgaria. He was a lynch-pin in the Tottenham success in the 1980s.
A World Cup winner, Ardiles brought his Argentinian-honed skill to the Tottenham team and proved without any doubt that although he may be slight in build, he was a colossus in midfield. He quickly settled into the team and was at the centre of Spurs 1980s success.
Villa took longer to settle than Ardiles but he showed through time what an amazing player he was. Difficult to fit into a team, his individuality eventually won through with the never to be forgotten 1981 FA Cup winning goal.
His time with Tottenham was short but he left such memories of outstanding skill and the pure quality of some outrageous goals. He carried Spurs to the FA Cup Final in 1991 with his displays and goals, including the amazing strike in the semi-final, but Tottenham’s perilous financial position decreed that he must be sold, after he’d recovered from the injury sustained in the Final.
Signed from West Ham in 2004 and once instated in the team by Martin Jol, Carrick pulled the strings in central midfield as Spurs, at last, started to mount a challenge to get back amongst the top teams. His passing ability was quickly recognised bu Manchester United with Spurs’ loss being United’s gain.
The midfield hub in the Spurs team which qualified for the Champions League and his star continued to rise as Spurs enjoyed and flourished in that first campaign. An outstanding ability to play a pass to switch play, his desire to leave, caused much friction and tension until he signed for Real Madrid last summer.
Sandro has developed into a very competitive and forceful central midfield player. He took time to adapt to playing in the Premier League but his performances until injured last season showed that he had come to terms with English football. His presence was greatly missed from January.
Rafael Van der Vaart
An unexpected arrival in August, 2010, Van der Vaart often produced the unexpected in terms of play and goals. He loved the ‘big’ games and knew the importance of the north London derby, rising to the challenge presented. The link between midfield and striker, he scored and created some outstanding goals.Mousa Dembele
In his one season with Tottenham, Dembele has shown power and strength in central midfield, forming an excellent partnership with Sandro. When absent with injury last season, he was greatly missed.
My Team Selection:
Another group of incredibly talented central midfield players to choose from. I didn’t see Danny Blanchflower play and Dave Mackay was in his final years at Spurs so wasn’t at the height of his career having recovered from twice breaking his leg. My choice would be Glenn Hoddle, such skill and style with wonder goals, and Paul Gascoigne – there’s nothing more can be said about the Gazza talent. This team won’t need a defensive midfield player – they’d never give the ball away – I hope.
From the central midfield players listed, please select the best two who you have seen playing for Spurs. If there is anyone you think should have been on the list, please add his name in the comments at the end of the page and also let me know your views on Tottenhamâ€™s midfielders over the years.