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Modric, Palacios, Jenas, Hudd – The Midfield Conundrum

There’s a great big Uefa Cup-shaped hole in my life at the moment. Instead of working myself into a frenzy of midweek worry, pessimism and nerves, I’ve been at a loss for something to stimulate the usual heart palpitations. Had to resort to half-heartedly watching Liverpool in the Champions League, throwing stones at small garden animals and generally twiddling my thumbs.Listening to England’s heroic failure in the Test Match served as a gentle reminder of the life of a Spurs fan, but generally this cold-turkey approach to the lack of Uefa Cup has not been a bundle of fun. However, I have endeavoured to use the time constructively. With no cup games, midweek distractions or ineligibility mazes to navigate we have the opportunity to settle upon fairly consistent team selection over the remaining ten games in the season. The permutations in defence remain numerous, but something approaching repetition has occurred across the middle, with Lennon on the right and Modric wide left, flanking Jenas and Palacios in the centre.

The Midfield Conundrum 

First things first – no-one in their right mind would question the eligibility of Palacios for a central midfield berth. Not to put any pressure on the lad, but if I ever bump into him I’ll pull out a pen-knife and scratch the words “our saviour” all over his face, but backwards, so that he’ll be reminded every time he looks into a mirror.

With that out of the way I turn to Jenas. Is this really the man we ideally want complementing Palacios? He has the appropriate attacking mentality to go alongside Palacios – far better him than, say, do-do-do-Didier. However, to put it diplomatically, he has not exactly made mind-bogglingly stunning progress since his emergence as a precocious under-21 starlet all those years back. (There, I did it – a full sentence about Jermaine Jenas without any hint of rage or vitriol. I demand a gold star).

More pointedly, deploying Jenas in the centre shunts Modders out to the left, where his impact is undoubtedly diminished. In the grossest practical terms, he’s got less pitch to play on when assigned to the wing. He may weigh less than his own shadow, but the guy is patently a class above the rest. Give him a central role, the freedom of the pitch, the freedom of North London. Our team ought to be built around him.

A Modric-Palacios centre would therefore leave us needing someone on the left. I’ll resist the urge to grumble about the sale of Steed, dagnabbit, and instead examine those who are still keeping the bench warm at the Lane. Brylcreem Bentley, Three-Touch O’ Hara, the genetic experiment that is Bale – even Jenas himself… Personally however I’d give young Giovani a run of games and see what he’s made of, but I get the impression that ‘Arry would rather organise six fixtures a day for the rest of the year than let Giovani establish himself.

Scarily, if no solution is decided upon, by default we’ll end up with One-Trick Downing this summer, fro around £13.9 million more than he’s worth. For that we could buy back several Steeds, or, dreamily, maybe even pinch Joe Cole.

Hypotheticals aside, the question from now until the end of the season revolves around what is preferable – Palacios-Modric in the centre, and A.N. Other wide left; or Palacios-Jenas in the centre and Modric wide left? I vote for the former.

Where Does This Leave Hudd? 

I fall into the latter camp, regrettably so as I have minimal patience with fat people (JUST EAT LESS). When he first emerged I had Hudd down as Carrick Mark II, a player who could feint his way out of trouble with a dip of the shoulder, pick passes dripping in gold and strike a shot with the force of an exocet missile. Far too often however, his passes go astray, although a healthy portion of blame here should go to team-mates’ lack of movement.

Still, the frustration remains. He’s not a tackler, runner or dribbler, and does not have the energy to compensate for mistakes. He most certainly has the capacity to boss games, but too often this only seems to happen when  we’re already two goals up (whereas, for example, Modric seems to dictate games far more regularly). Hoddle or Ginola may have been deemed by many to be luxury players, but they were regularly genuine match-winners too. How often have we said this of Hudd? How often are we likely to say this of Hudd, particularly in the bigger games?

Strange how I have found myself mulling this point because of the absence of European football – the precise stage upon which I reckon Hudd is best suited. Lovely bit of irony with which to wrap up. Tally-ho.

10 Responses

  1. Richard Says:

    Were nearly certain to be safe. Give Gio a run of games.. He looked okay in the Euro Cup, when we sent the under 3’s to defend the lane against the invaders. However left to right: Jenas, Wilson, Modders, Lennon. For now.. But please, not Downing in summer

  2. Tom Says:

    Hardly a conundrum for those with eyes: Modric and Palacios every time. Jenas is tripe, ‘an athlete’ but no more, whilst Hudd doesn’t seem to know what he is – a CB, a DM? Who knows?

  3. EngNor Says:

    Richard. If we want the best out of Lennon he must play on the right, how about slotting Keane on the left for now with Modric and Palacios in the middle and playing Pav and Bent up front? That way we have the advantage of Keane`s hussle n` bussle in the middle, plus his obvious eye for goal. And with the near comeback of Defoe he would slot into Bents position.

  4. DAVSPURS Says:

    Whats with this speed thing with the hudds he is the best passer i have seen since hoddle and reminds me of zidane the way he slowly hits a 50 yard pass like a tomahack missile right on the players boot lace.This is possible why he develop is array of passes because he is not blessed with pace , lennon leaves players for dead with pace hudds does it with his passes if tom had pace he wouldent pass .When tom lost 3 stone and went to 13 st he was 5 yards faster he is starting to look a bit heavy of late because he is on the bench a lot players like tom and lennon are what make teams exciting and not robotic .Chelsea are a fine example a very good team but no players that make the crowd excited were utd have abundance of players ,tom should play just infront of the back four at 13 stone carrick type player and palacios with just one , if harry plays one upfront then tom should play for is passes . coys

  5. fiftypeehead Says:

    if only footie was 12 a side, i would have all the answers

  6. hekko Says:

    I am going to just throw this out there: ‘i think this is the best spurs midfield we have had in a long long time’.

    It’s not full of world beaters but there are good/great players in there and – more to the point – there is balance. Something we have lacked for quite some time. We have four players who between them provide all you need from a midfield. There are – as you have noted – two minor imperfections.

    1) Jenas. So Jenas is not a world beater. That is the problem. He does sloppy passes, can give the ball away cheaply, is sometimes a bit weak with his challenges, offers nothing in the air… etc.

    However, he is still very good. He covers a lot of ground and contributes both defensively and attackingly. Up and down, Up and down…. not a lot of players can do that.

    Very difficult to name a genuine improvement on him (that Tottenham could feasibly get). We have been trying to replace him for a while but each time he proves to be the superior choice. Managers constantly choose him and – people are going to scoff at this – its because he is better than the other options. Since Jenas we have seen many ‘precocious’ talents come, go and stay at the lane: Boateng, tainio, Davis, Mendes, Zokora, murphy, taarabt, hudd…. Even Modric gets played behind him in the centre… because he is a bit light weight.

    The only ones who have been better: palacios and carrick.

    2) Modric. Simply, he is not a left midfielder. He won’t burn up and down the by-line whipping in crosses like… i don’t know… Downing, Riera, Petrov… etc.

    But who cares. We have Lennon on the right to do that. Instead of having two wingers… we have a winger and a guy who cuts inside, sets up the strikers with cute little passes. He can still cross from the left anyway. He has the capacity to jinx players down the line. And he can contribute towards defence without it having to be his duty in the centre of the park.

    The point is that its a settle for situation. Maybe – dare I say it – it will be our midfield next season/?1/!?!!!!

    Wouldn’t that be unbelievable? A stable tottenham….

    To be fair it wouldn’t be very fun…. you’ve got to love spurs when the transfer window opens.

  7. Yido61 Says:

    Any combination is better without Jenas.

    He cant, tackle, only passes back to where he got it from or 3ft sideways.
    Every time he gets the ball the move stops because he dithers on the ball,
    misses the runs of the forwards and gets closed down.

    Hudd can at least pass the ball forward, close down players and has a good shot. Oh and most importantly has a BRAIN

  8. Bimmi Says:

    The answer is simple..

    Lennon/Bentley on the right; Palacios and Mod in the middle, Everyone else to the bench of worse..

    and if you were to ask my opinion i’d have Giovani out left..

    Mod pretty much has a free role out on the left anyway but that leaves the left wide open to counter attack whenever he drifts inside.. so it makes perfect sense to give him a free role from the middle..

    now if we could only turn back time and have Steed back..

    where’s my flux capacitor when i need it..

  9. Frazzle Says:

    Weight loss spam on a blog about Huddlestone – coincidence?

    Anyway, as good as it looks on paper starting with Lennon, Palacios, Modders and Gio is an accident waiting to happen – are any of them over 5’6″??? I think we have to give Bale a run at left mid, he has shown great improvement the last few times he’s played.

    Jenas IS good – honest. The only problem is that he only looks it when he’s bursting into the box from deep, unfortunately he treats us to that spectacle about once every 3 games.

    The Hudd needs to be reassigned to CB

  10. Wasim Says:

    I too was of the inclination that Luka Modric HAD to play centre-midfield and for a left-footed Aaron Lennon to be signed from somewhere. However, for some reason, the midfield of Lennon, Palacios, Jenas and Modric works perfectly and gets better with every match.

    Modric may be shunted on the left, but the guy is too clever to simply maraud down the left and appears all over the pitch, making it difficult for the opposition to deal with him. Samir Nasri has been doing this job fairly well over at Arsenal, but for the five games Modric has played there, he is making the Frenchman look ordinary in his ability to influence the game.
    The ONE downside to this is that the left back is sometimes left exposed and looking at the goals we have conceded, they more often than not are created on that side. This is no fault of Benoit Assou-Ekotto as some people have lazily claimed, but just a result of Modric’s pseudo free-role.

    However, the Jenas-Palacios partnership in the centre provides us with two players who can protect the back four and drive forward with equal measure. This is the core of our team now, and musn’t be dislodged for the sake of having a left winger. The energy Jenas and Palacios bring to the team has invigorated us and it is no-coincidence that Spurs have been playing well since those two. If, between them, they can give extra-protection to the left back to cover Modric, the one major problem in our team would be solved.

    Some may say that we only have one out-and-out winger in Lennon and are “unbalanced”. What is wrong with that? Why is it absolutely necessary to have two wingers? We’ve been doing okay with just the one this season and did even better in the previous seasons. As long as we can get the ball out to Lennon and Modric, it doesn’t matter where they are. At to the equation Robbie Keane, and you have an attacking trio who are clever and dynamic enough to cause the best defences problems. And I mean the best defences in the world.

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