Club Focus – Tottenham – Oh the hokey cokey

The revolving door transfer policy at Tottenham was back in action again as the transfer window came to a close. After January 2009 saw no fewer than three former Tottenham players rejoin the club, there were further hokey-cokey goings on at White Hart Lane this year.

Nothing illustrated the in-out theme more than Robbie Keane’s departure on loan to Celtic. Having left the club in the summer of 2008 for his boyhood side Liverpool, he returned to Spurs just months later after he failed to ignite at Anfield. After only a year back in the fold at the Lane, he has now moved on to the latest team to be declared his childhood favourites, Celtic. Speculation began months ago that the Irishman would make the move to Glasgow but it seemed extremely unlikely, dismissed in this very column as far-fetched. With the lower standard of football in the SPL, it remains a surprising step down for Keane. He is still only 29, a peak age where he should be playing at the highest level possible. Harry Redknapp says he is letting Keane move as the player needs to be playing regular games but it is hardly like he is lacking in action at Spurs. He might be leaving as second choice but the chances are he would be first choice again before the end of the season if he stayed put in North London.Despite the speculation, the move appeared to come out of leftfield on deadline day.

The weekend newspapers had heavily tipped Keane to head to Sunderland but any potential deal to take him to the Stadium of Light appeared to be off by the time Monday arrived. As the day wore on and the count down pages on the internet ticked off the deals one by one, it seemed that the biggest name to leave Tottenham would be Troy Archibald-Henville. The youngster would end the day as the longest name to go, but in terms of headlines his permanent move to Exeter was easily surpassed later on. As the focus turned inevitably to Manchester City – who did sign Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough but did not manage to bring in Fernando Gago from Real Madrid – news broke after the 5pm English deadline that Keane was heading for talks in Glasgow. With the Scottish deadline not until midnight, this unlikely story was still theoretically possible. By 8pm, a loan deal was ready to be announced, with the player to be unveiled to the press by the Bhoys at 11pm.

Keane might not have hit the same heady heights in his second spell at Spurs that he did before he left for Liverpool but he still remains a class act. With Tottenham still harbouring major ambitions of reaching the 2010/11 Champions League it seems ill-advised to allow such a major player to go out on loan. Eidur Gudjohnsen might have arrived on loan but the Icelander is not the player that excelled at Chelsea judging on his performances at Barcelona and Monaco. Roman Pavlyuchenko is still yet to settle at White Hart Lane and that is not going to change overnight just because Keane has been removed from the queue for first team action. Jermain Defoe, who like Keane returned for a second spell at the club last January, might have established himself as the pick of the strikers at Redknapp’s disposal, and Peter Crouch might have edged ahead as the preferred partner for Defoe. Yet what happens if either picks up an injury? Yes, Pavlyuchenko would now get his chance and Gudjohnsen’s arrival keeps the numbers up, but would the preference not be to turn to Keane? Redknapp will hope he does not live to regret his decision when the final league table is published come May. At the other end of the field, there was plenty of transfer action but not necessarily in the positions expected. A goalkeeper seemed a certainty to cover for Gomes but neither of the Portsmouth custodians linked arrived. David James appears to have stayed on the south coast, whilst Asmir Begovic snubbed Spurs to switch to Stoke. It was at right-back where the moves were seen. Kyle Naughton moved to Middlesbrough until the end of the season and he was followed to the North East by Alan Hutton who was loaned to Sunderland. That would have left Vedran Corluka as the only senior right-back left at the club had it not been for the re-signing of Younes Kaboul at the weekend.

The tall Frenchman is a centre-back by choice but impressed at full-back while at Pompey. Despite Jonathan Woodgate’s injury seemingly ruling him out for the season, the centre is still a strong area for Tottenham and Kaboul might find himself employed as much on the right as in the middle. His first spell at the club was a disappointment but he will hope his second spell is an improvement, unlike that of Keane.

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