With the new Premier League season two weeks away, Harry Redknapp has plenty to think about. He has already bemoaned the number and locations of Spurs' pre-season games, with the recent jaunt to America resulting in hamstring injuries for both Luka Modric and Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Perhaps the tiredness occasioned by that trip partially explains the somewhat disappointing performance against Villarreal. It's always possible to overstate the importance of friendlies, but losing 4-1 at the Lane while fielding something like a full strength team must be a cause for concern. In truth, the home side was flattered by the scoreline and could easily have conceded another two or three goals. And while it was heartening to see Giovani dos Santos find the net on his return from World Cup duty, Spurs carried very little in the way of an attacking threat. With a Champions League tie looming, this was not an encouraging display against a Spanish club who only just crept into the Europa League.
Given that Spurs will be challenging on both domestic and European fronts this season, the lack of activity in the transfer market has also been something of a disappointment, with the Brazilian Sandro the only significant acquisition to date. Redknapp has said,
"I think we could contend for the title. We have got the players here. We have got to aim for it. We could win the championship - it is not impossible. Someone has to do it sometime. It cannot all just be Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool."
Yet for this to be a realistic goal, Spurs surely must introduce some new faces. In this regard, the manager has stated that,
"Clubs like Manchester City will have too big a squad as you can only have 25 players on your roster. They will have a problem and there will be players that clubs will want to loan out that will be good players that are earning good wages. Clubs will have to cut their wage bills and they don't want players sitting around doing nothing."
Quite why a team like Man City would agree to loan players to a rival for a top four place is open to question. The approaches that have actually been made have so far ended in disappointment, most notably in the case of Joe Cole. Perhaps the amount of time and effort that was expended fruitlessly in the pursuit of Cole may help explain why Spurs now appear to be behind the curve in bringing players in. Clearly Redknapp is hugely disappointed to have missed out on a player whom he nurtured at West Ham, claiming that Cole was ready to join the club before Liverpool moved in.
Spurs have also had an offer for Scott Parker rejected by West Ham, although the statement by co-owner David Sullivan that Parker "is not for sale at any price" might be taken with a barrow-load rather than a grain of salt. Other targets apparently include Craig Bellamy - for whom a reunion with Mark Hughes at Fulham now seems a more likely outcome - and Ashley Young. One British newspaper has speculated that Spurs will be required to offer Keane, Bentley and Jenas in order to meet Young's £30 million valuation. (It seems that every player at Aston Villa is now worth £30 million.) While there are fans who would not regret seeing any of these three moved on, Spurs are not, needless to say, quite that desperate for a left-sided midfielder. As parts of the Villarreal game made clear, the most pressing need is for a top-class central defender, especially given the continuing injury problems suffered by Woodgate and King. Micah Richards, who has been linked with the club, might well fit the bill. Who knows, perhaps when Spurs open the season against Man City on August 14th, Richards will be lining up for Spurs against his former teammates.