As Tottenham manager, now is the time to decide on the composition of the squad for the 2014-15 season. You have the opportunity to determine which midfield players stay and who leaves.
How many midfield players did Tottenham use last season? A staggering number – 15 played at some time during the season as Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood constantly shuffled the pack to try and find a system that suited the players and worked effectively for the team. Last summer’s new signings added 5 players to an already well-manned midfield at White Hart Lane.
The ‘Old Guard’
Mousa Dembele and Sandro played well in the first half of the 2012-13 season until injury took Sandro out for over 8 months. This season, neither was as effective either together or individually as players were rotated and roles changed from game to game. Both were troubled by injury through the season and appeared to fall out of favour with Tim Sherwood in the second half of the season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had a season similar to the previous year, used as a substitute and coming into the team when required without ever establishing what would be his best position. He scored some important goals in the early part of the season and then the late winner as Spurs recovered to beat Southampton.
Aaron Lennon wasn’t as effective this season as he has been in the past. He and Gareth Bale on the wings posed a major threat to teams but Lennon on his own didn’t have the same impact. He works tirelessly covering in defence but that seems to have reduced his threat going forward. He scored once and was credited with 3 ‘assists’.
Andros Townsend started the season well and especially with England but injury hampered him through the season and eventually brought it to a premature end and with it his hopes of making the World Cup finals.
Paulinho had a mixed season but scored 7 goals with 2 ‘assists’ in all competitions. He was used in a variety of midfield roles but may be best suited to a more forward position getting into the area in support of the strikers as he did on occasions early in the season and against Aston Villa in the final game. Out of the team following injury, there was speculation over his future at White Hart Lane but recently he was reported to have denied any intention of leaving. From an interview in Four Four Two magazine, the Daily Express reported Paulinho’s comment,
Absolutely not. I know how to handle my career and it’ll take more than just one bad moment before I reconsider my options.
Etienne Capoue made a favourable impression in the opening games but injury at beginning of September kept him out until the end of the year. On his return he was required to play as an emergency central defender. That didn’t go well and the change of manager and further injury caused him further problems with few opportunities to play in midfield.
Erik Lamela was Tottenham’s record buy last summer but had little opportunity to prove his worth. Absent since January with injury, he is a player with immense talent but still has to prove himself capable of succeeding at Tottenham.Nacer Chadli arrived as a wide player, starting on the left of midfield. Through the season he has played in a variety of positions as well as a central role in the final weeks of the season. Again, injury kept him out at times and it was only late in the season that he had a consistent spell in the starting line-up. He has brought height and goals to the team in support of the strikers but like so many of the midfield players, needs to establish a role for himself within the team.
Christian Eriksen has been the undoubted success of last summer’s new signings. He came to the fore at the end of 2013 with goals and creativity ability. In the second half of the season we saw him at his best as he became the focal point of all that was good in terms of Tottenham’s attacking prowess.
Nabil Bentaleb benefited from the appointment of Tim Sherwood who brought a number of young players into the squad. Bentaleb started ahead of his more experienced colleagues in the early months of 2014 and impressed with his work rate and competitiveness.
Milos Veljkovic and Alex Pritchard were two players who also came through the Tottenham Academy and made brief appearances at the end of the season. Their future at Tottenham will depend on the new manager’s view on using young players.
Lewis Holtby is a favourite with Spurs fans who spent the second half of the season at Fulham but while impressing in mid-week games was unable to have the same influence when given limited chances in league games.
Tom Carroll spent the season in the Championship with Queen’s Park Rangers after playing in two early Europa league games.
Jake Livermore played the whole season at Hull with good reports on his performances with an FA Cup Final appearance.
Decision Time: Who Stays, Who Goes?
This is the most difficult of the selection decisions which have to be taken as Spurs have an over-abundance of midfield players. You can vote to keep as many of the midfield players as you like – in fact you can keep them all if you wish.