Issues For Next Season: The Keane-Defoe Problem
Things We Need To Sort Out, Preferably Before The Start Of Next Season
With Pav last seen disappearing down the tunnel in a stropski and Darren Bent spending more time practising his hands-half-raised-to-head-can’t-believe-I-missed-that look, rather than his goal celebration, there are likely to be changes in attack over the summer - and the problem is compounded by the fact that one of Keane and Defoe will need to make himself at home on the bench next season.
We’ve been rather trying to ignore this, but there’s no doubt it’s a full-on, certified, official problem. It’s been gestating, and by the start of next season could well burst from ‘Arry Redknapp’s chest and go on the rampage, destroying the rest of the team.
Entertaining though it undoubtedly is to see over-paid and over-privileged grown men throwing a good old-fashioned toddler’s tantrum because life is so unfair, it won’t be particularly helpful to us. Discord from within we can do without.
Somehow, both these chaps need to be kept happy. Ordinarily, the gift of the entire DVD box-set of all five series of The A-Team would be more than enough to keep a grown man content, but these two fussy chaps need more. It’s not rocket-science to us at the Lane - each needs a bigger man alongside them. Only then will they feel loved and deliver their best, but such a solution obviously precludes a partnership between the two themselves. It’s one or t’other.
(The issue of who should partner Defoe/Keane is a completely different kettle of fish. I’ll sink confusedly into that one on another occasion.)
More recently, the fling with Liverpool turned sour hilariously quickly once he realised that his place in the first XI wasn’t sacrosanct. More strops are a-coming if Keane isn’t in the starting line-up.
Defoe does not have the pedigree of Keane when it comes to whingeing, but we hardly need reminding that failure to start regularly saw him amble off to pastures new 18 months back.
It’s not just that these two need to appear regularly, or even make 25 starts next season – they each need to know that they’re first choice, and will start game after game after game. Neither will be content with regular 60th minute introductions, or starting berths once every three games. We would undoubtedly regret selling one of Keane or Defoe (we need at least three - preferably four - decent strikers at the club) but whichever is not playing regularly is likely to get itchy feet.
The Curious World of Robbie Keane
The plot thickens and mystery deepens given ‘Arry’s intransigent refusal to drop or substitute him. This might be because he wears the captain’s armband – a move which did make sense when he arrived, but slightly complicates matters now. There are more rational explanations – ‘Arry may simply have reasoned it made more sense to withdraw a rusty-looking Pav, against West Brom and Man City. Nevertheless, the selection of Keane on left midfield last week was a strange one, and not for the first time had me wondering if there is some sort of “I’m Precious” clause in Keane’s contract, which simply states “Don’t even think about dropping me, Pedro.”
All Rise For The AANP Verdict:
On present form I’d have Defoe. In recent weeks we’ve looked most threatening when Defoe’s been on the pitch. The build-up play might not necessarily be any better (in fact, if Defoe played instead of Keane the build-up would probably be worse), but Defoe has a single-minded and fairly selfish determination to shoot whenever there’s a sniff. I love that about him. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King, and in the land of the shot-shy Spurs of recent weeks Defoe’s willingness to shoot earns him the place on the throne.
Curiously, although it’s fairly commonly acknowledged that they as partnerships go they’re no Stan and Ollie, we’ve probably had our greatest cutting-edge in recent weeks when they have been paired up. Such a combo, lacking a target man, has seen Keane push further forward, whilst Defoe has looked far sharper than any of the other strikers. However, this is more of an indictment upon the Bent-Keane and Pav-Keane partnerships than a recommendation of Defoe-Keane.
So this is one for ‘Arry to sort. Injury to Defoe since the January re-signing of both has meant we’ve been conveniently able to sidestep the problem so far in 2009, but there is no point ignoring it any further. The club badge features a cockerel standing on some sort of basketball, not an ostrich with its head in the sand. Two quality strikers fighting for one position is probably a good problem to have as a manager, but a problem nevertheless.
By the by – AANP has now got its own Facebook group and Twitter, um, thing. Amazing what these new-fangled computer boxes can do.