One thing has been bothering me about Tottenham over the last few weeks of the season. Why on earth has Jermain Defoe not been playing?
I know that the twenty-eight year old England striker has only found the net four times in the Premier League this season, but he remains a top striker and a genuine goal threat. He missed a couple of months with an ankle injury and has only started fifteen league games with a further six appearances as a substitute.
Apart from his lack of league goals, he has scored a hat-trick for England and two goals in Tottenham games against FC Twente in the Champions League and Charlton in the FA Cup. In fact, for Tottenham, in all competitions, he has scored nine in twenty-nine. Not a bad return considering many of those games were started on the bench.
It has been said that it has been a lack of goals that has cost Tottenham their top four spot. It is certainly true that those in the top four and indeed Liverpool behind them, have scored more goals. Despite this, over the closing crucial weeks of the season, Defoe has found himself on the bench whilst the hardly prolific Crouch and Pavlyuchenko have been preferred to him in thje starting eleven.
I have huge respect for Harry Redknapp and believe that he has worked a minor miracle at White Hart Lane, but this is one decision that baffles me.
Defoe has spoken out about his frustrations. He told Sky Sports news,
“When you feel like you are working hard, training hard and being professional and then you are not playing, it is difficult. If you speak to any of the players and the fans, they will tell you that I am committed to the club. I love the club and I still get the same buzz that I did when I first walked out at White Hart Lane, which is important. But for me the main thing is playing football and if I am not playing football then I am not happy, because I love my football. At the end of the day I am ambitious. I want to play in every game and score goals, especially when you score goals for a fantastic club like Tottenham. I have always been like that from the first day I walked through the door and I truly believe that if I am playing games I will score goals. I think my record shows that. It has been really, really hard to be honest. Players come and go, that is just football and it is out of my hands.”
Defoe’s frustrations are clear and understandable. He must wonder why, when goals are needed, the manager has trusted other players who are far less likely to score. Whilst he has nine in twenty-nine, Peter Crouch has eleven in forty and Roman Pavlyuchenko has twelve in thirty-nine. Not much difference between the three records this season then, but in the past, Defoe has been far more prolific.
Defoe has pace and penetration which the other two do not possess and his record shows that he is a consistently better finisher. I know that if I was Tottenham’s manager he would have been playing in the big games towards the end of the season. I also know that Harry Redknapp is a lot better at the job than I would be!
Can anyone explain why Defoe has been overlooked?
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It’s because Rednapp is having a love affair with the giant that is Peter Crouch.