Tottenham Hotspur Players who stood out 2012/13: U-21s and First Team
I’ve been waiting awhile to write about my experience at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, it was an exhausting roller coaster of a year where I tasted more live games than most people watch in a lifetime. If you don’t know me, I worked at Spurs last season as Social Media Manager, traveling to every game home and away as well as watching and covering U-21 and some U-18 games. This is one of my favourite photos from my time there (I’m on the left…).
But with the season over, I thought I’d put together a post on players that impressed me over my time there, all views are my opinion, no ‘ITK’ here, but I like to think I know something about football having a coaching badge and sport science degree also help a bit, but enough about me…
I’m not going to spend too much time on the first team players but will highlight a few observations and views. Further down the post I will highlight some of the players in the U-21, development and Under 18 teams that I was lucky enough to watch too.
So, here we go:
Well Gareth wasn’t bad was he? One of my favourite players to watch and favourite player to work with too, though Kyle Walker was also a lot of fun too. I’ve never seen a player have that kind of season in the Spurs shirt in my lifetime and time as a season ticket holder. Pace, power, perfect physique and a willingness to learn how to play a variety of positions. He can play on the right, centre and oh, yeah on the left too.
I don’t have to say much about Gareth and I doubt I can add anything original either. But my opinion is that he will very much be at Tottenham next season, whether it will be his final season as a Spurs player I don’t know it won’t be surprised to know I wasn’t part of any real decisions at the Club! I told you, no ‘ITK here’. But one thing is for sure, the Club need to invest in players of a similar quality.
Favourite moment, goal vs Swansea, the winner vs West Ham. Just incredible.
One of the smartest players at the Club in my dealings with him, he reads books! But seriously, the young Belgium has had a great first season for the Club, composed and quite a leader off the pitch too which sometimes doesn’t come across in a the microcosm of 90 minutes.
I still think he can improve, sometimes gets caught out behind and switches off sometimes. Perhaps he is a bit laid back, he’s certainly supremely confident and perhaps he thinks his ability can get him out of trouble sometimes. I actually preferred him at left back, though that may be due to our problems with the position this season. But he certainly sees himself as a centre back. That said, he’s had some fantastic games, really great on the ball too and an incredible shot on him, always takes part in shooting training. One of the most technically gifted players at the Club in my opinion. Lets hope he builds on that, becomes more of a Kompany than a Vermalen…
Best moment; assist for Gareth vs Swansea and his goal vs Swansea too,
Another intelligent guy. Incredibly humble, a real gentleman. Also happens to be an incredible player. Always has time for people and media after the game, polite and settled in very well.
He’s probably had more media attention this season when he wasn’t in the team than when he was. Which as a goalkeeper probably is a good thing, but think he deserves a bit more of the plaudits. His pace off his line allows us play a much more forward thinking game, his decision making, especially from crosses has been fantastic. Would we have drawn the two home games at the start of the season had he been in goal? Who knows, but certain he’d have come and claimed the set pieces that lead to the goals.
Think he’s made maybe 3 mistakes all season, which is certainly not a bad ratio for a goal keeper in the Premier League and will only get better and only 26.
Best moment: Too many last minutes punches from corners and free-kicks to mention
Now on to the Under 21’s, Development and U-18’s:
You may or may not have heard from him yet but at 17 years old he has a lot of potential. Has played for the Next Gen, Development and U-21 team this season, playing almost all fixtures. Looked tired at the end of the season – especially in our Next Gen exit but think the number of games caught up with him a little and should learn from it long term.
Can play at centre defence or holding midfielder, likes to play two touch football and has the vision and composure to do it too. Saw him mostly at the base of midfield but played centre back at U-21 level which I think he will develop in central midfield in future if he fills out physically. That said, he certainly is just as comfortable in defence, though not sure of his pace when on the turn. A recycler of the ball and a very mature head on his shoulders too. Probably the only player in the age bracket (<18 years old) who could make it at the Club in my opinion.
Another central midfielder, had some loan spells this season but was with the U-21 squad from December onwards. Perhaps doesn’t stand out to some fans who want the goals, free-kicks and skills on the ball, he plays a very simple game, connects play and is always available. He can sit in front of the midfield, or play in a two in midfield or even play left midfield, I didn’t see much of him last season when he was with the Next Gen, but he certainly played a much deeper position this season when I saw him from what I heard. Rarely gives away the ball and defends and presses very well.
Another who could make it at senior level, but has a big battle ahead of him.
He’s left the Club now but when I saw him at the U-21 level he was consistent and expansive going forwards mainly at right back. Always looked good going forwards and defended well, lots of pace and his positional sense was very good.
Wish him well at Swindon, a player who needs games and if he continues to improve will have a very good career in league football.
I haven’t seen too much of him in games but did see him in training. A very good young goal keeper who I have no doubt will be third choice next season. Physically big and growing as well as decent on the floor. Had a good experience at Wycombe, well thought of at the Club.
As with many young players at big Clubs and probably even harder for goal keepers, hard to know what comes next for him. Will want to play games but would probably be unlikely at Tottenham, especially next season.
Got a lot of headlines, a small and very fancy player who stands out often because he likes to get on the ball and takes free-kicks. I’m unsure if he will make it at the Club and certainly don’t prescribe to some of the hyperbole I’ve read about him from some fans (who I doubt have seen him play 90mins but seen headlines or YouTube clips) but I am sure he will develop more in the future and should have a decent career in the football league.
A player who is very smart on the ball, deceptively quick and a great passer, also a smart lad too. Unlucky with his loan spell at Lorient which saw him used more as a body than a player, which can happen when a Club gets a player without contribution.
I imagine he’ll have to move from the Club soon but a player who is very good on the ball, gets forward and picks a pass as well as chipping in with goals.
Very elegant player who you wonder if he was born abroad whether he’d have more space to be a player, if he stays in England (and he’s shown he’s mature enough to live abroad which I think is refreshing) a Club that likes to play football and keep the ball on the deck would be ideal.
Obviously did very well at QPR but he played a number of matches for the U-21’s before he left on loan. He certainly surprised me on loan, he was very comfortable at U-21 level and generally had beating of his man every match, scoring lots of goals.
His performances in the Premier League have shown he has something, lots pace and great feet, can play on either flank. Whether or not he will be happy to be a sub or if he can push for either wide position, I’m not sure, but certainly was head and shoulders above most opposition we played against at U-21 and Development level, hence his loan move.
A lot of fans calling for him to start, which I’m unsure about but certainly a bright future ahead. A very polite professional and certainly keeps the ball well. Lot to learn about position sense without the ball and the physical aspect of the game will always be something that he needs to work on. But he has a fantastic eye for a pass and always wants the ball. A big season coming next season, what fans don’t see is training – how he does in pre-season will tell whether he steps up or not in my view.
Brief mention of Nabil Bentaleb – another elegant midfielder, very Tottenham Hotspur. Can play just behind the forward or in central midfield – didn’t see much of him but when I did his technique stood out, scored a great goal against Manchester United at U-21 level earlier in the season coming on as a sub. One to watch out for, still a lot of work to be done on his game and actually getting into the game but lot of potential.
All in all a very interesting crop of players at the Club. It’s important not to get too carried away but let players develop, these are very young men who are trying to find a career, hopefully they’ll find it at Tottenham, but if not – good luck to them in their careers.