This summer has seen us break our transfer record not once but twice. With Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado, we have acquired three terrific players and I imagine that you’ll agree with me when I say this – we have fundamentally summarised what it is to ‘strengthen’ a football squad.
But are these players the only lads we have collected to improve our squad. Have we signed two new players without even noticing? Well look no further. Saturday saw the return of the beastly duo that is Younes Kaboul and Sandro – both whom have long-awaited a return to the Tottenham side. Not only did their performances versus Espanyol highlight their true brute strength, calmness and solidity but reassured Spurs fans that with the season just days away, the White Hart Lane side have reinforcements (and strong ones a that) prepared to step up to the plate.
The first appearance of the two was to be the French centre back Younes Kaboul against Espanyol. Younes was applauded by almost the entire stadium and you could just see the delight on everyone’s faces (including his own.) In a post-match press interview, Younes said: “I’ve never had that before (the atmosphere) and I want to say thanks. Now I want to give them something back.” Some exaggerative Yids amongst us would say it was like losing a child when Younes disappeared. After having such a prominent season under Harry Redknapp and being part of our own little ‘invincibles’ team in a way (the Modric, Bale and Adebayor powerhouse attack) it was very sudden and without the recruitment of Jan Vertonghen, it would have left us very defenceless (see what I did there) at the back.
But then, like a fairy-tale, a big six-foot one angel left the bench and made his way to the touchline. My phone lit up with messages of “It’s Sandro!” and “He’s back.” It was true, Sandro Raniere had returned.
After a truly awful injury back in January to Queens Park Rangers, the man Tottenham had relied on to bring solidity and balance to a midfield had gone and left us with a semi-ready Scott Parker (whom I must admit strengthened as the season continued) in his place. The Lilywhites fans were distraught and floods of messages came in on the social networks for the tall Brazilian. Sandro had blossomed into the young man our scouts saw over in Brazil and left Andre Villas-Boas very distracted in his post-match interviews on the day. But when the young man returned versus Espanyol, the level of excitement inside White Hart Lane had escalated to a new decibel.
And if as if by magic, the Spurs crowd sighed with a general consensus of: “and we’re back.” The pair instantly displayed their key abilities with Kaboul challenging very well with his former partner Michael Dawson (whom shared a respectful fist bump upon his arrival) and Sandro providing his mix of nutty and frantic movements yet bringing a hard to describe stability to the midfield. The appearance of the pair failed to inspire the team to victory however many would have left the stadium feeling victorious having seen five players make a fresh appearance. Yes that’s right, five.
To cap off the performances of our new boys. I found Nacer Chadli to be a tad lazy. This is my fair critic. I saw glimpses of Niko Kranjcar within his performance, someone who has real ability and skill however was lazy when defending (causing Rose to struggle alone on the left) and didn’t have enough tenacity in him to shoot. However, he was very skilful and in the first half especially; he showed key winger ability in making runs and linking play well. Roberto Soldado, well what can I say. The man is obviously a goal threat. Even if we have a poor year (which I cannot see happening) he will be guaranteed to bag goals. His penalty showed power and accuracy as well as his low centre of gravity which helped him to lose defenders. Paulinho also showed real signs of talent and he did link very well with Mousa at times and showed Dembele was happy to have such a partner. His passing was good as well as his vision and his disallowed goal showed his aerial prowess – an ability of his we have written about before.
To conclude, it was a very exciting day at the Lane and gave the fans a chance to see what our new boys can really do. But the main thing to come from the game was how truly fantastic it was to have some proven talent back in our side.
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