While the game against Stoke may not live long in the memory - except perhaps for Gareth Bale’s wonderful volley - it has been a very eventful week. The arrival of a former Arsenal captain has been met with dismay by some sections of the Spurs support but, as the game against Young Boys demonstrated, the team could certainly use an experienced central defender. They don't come with much more experience than the 33 year old William Gallas, who in addition to spending almost a decade in the Premier League, has been capped 84 times by France.
Harry Redknapp described the acquisition of Gallas as "a no brainer" and in that he's correct. The defender has arrived on a free transfer and has a one year deal (with an option for a further year if he starts 30 games), so the risk seems minimal. The manager went on to say that,
"He's a footballer, a great lad, smashing, and he'll improve Tottenham. He's got the bottle to come and play here and I'm sure the fans will give him a good reception. "
That last statement may be a little dubious. Some of the fans will balk at the sight of Gallas in a Spurs shirt and there is precious little that he can do about that, except to try to win them over with his commitment. Whether he is a "great lad" remains to be seen. His petulant display against Birmingham in February of 2008 is an enduring image, and he was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy the following season for being overly critical of his teammates. In the last few days Arsene Wenger has characterized this kind of behaviour as indicative of a player who demands 100% from everyone around him, but of course it is easy to be gracious about someone who is on the way out.
Questions of attitude aside, there is no doubt that Spurs need Gallas, or someone very like him. Ledley King clearly cannot play in every game, while Jonathan Woodgate may be forced to retire through injury. Bassong, as he showed against Young Boys, is still raw, while Kaboul, at fault for the goal conceded against Stoke at the weekend, is erratic. Most significantly of all, Michael Dawson - also poor on the plastic pitch in Bern - is a much better player with an assured veteran alongside him, balancing his effort and work rate with positional and tactical awareness. Presumably Harry's preferred central defensive partnership will now be either King/Dawson or Gallas/Dawson. Gallas brings the added bonus of being able to play at left-back, although this is a position where Spurs are relatively well covered.
With that deal done, there has also been speculation about Robbie Keane's future, with talk of some sort of "swap" for West Ham's Scott Parker. The terms of this remain unclear, which is hardly a surprise given that proceedings are still at the rumour stage. It is being reported simultaneously that Parker plans to sign a new contract at Upton Park. If, however, an arrangement could be made, Harry should dust off his "no brainer" phrase for some additional use.