Jan Molby

New-look Tottenham can challenge for title without Bale

Jan Molby

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Tottenham are doing some impressive business this summer. I think the above three men would all good signings for Spurs, but I am surprised they have decided to reinvest the Gareth Bale money and then add some on top.

It has shown real ambition by the club, and is displaying to the fans that "we are not going to allow the loss of Bale to knock us. We are going to fight the loss of our best player."

I generally like their signings. I think they have bought well, even the ones who made their debuts on Sunday when you study the movement of Paulinho and Roberto Soldado.

The £93 million they could receive for Bale is a great piece of business. They just have to take the money, and move on.

There is no guarantee in a year's time where Bale will be at. They have decided to take the money now which is wise.

Surely this influx of players will add demands on Andre Villas-Boas. You have to think that getting into the top four won't be good enough now for the club.

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If they get their targets on board then the club must move their goalposts. They can't say "we want to be in the top four." They have to be more ambitious than that.

The Bale money has given them the opportunity to leave Arsenal and Liverpool behind, and that is what they plan to do.

I think Spurs should be looking to mount a challenge for the title if they land all their targets. They shouldn't be able to hide behind anything other than that ambition.

That would be the expectation. If you bring in that amount of players, and that quality of player, you should be looking to mount a title challenge.

They are not Sunderland who are signing better players to finish 14th. They have gone after their targets, and it looks like they have them. These are the players they want.

Now they plan to make a real show with them. Here is my take on the latest three men Tottenham are chasing:

Willian (Anzhi Mahkachkala, midfielder)

I was at Stamford Bridge last year when he produced a magnificent performance. He is technically well-balanced, and understands his role. He is a wide man who joins in through the middle. The only criticism is perhaps his lack of goals at the top level, but he is a very good player. I think, having seen Spurs on Sunday, it was the one thing that was missing for them. They need more players who can create. They have physically strong players, but they just need a bit of magic. Willian definitely has that.


Erik Lamela (AS Roma, forward)

Lamela is a young striker making his way in the game. 15 goals is a lot in Serie A for a 21-year-old. I wouldn't have thought they would buy him to use as number one choice. Soldado will be their number one striker, but it is a great option to have. Villas-Boas has worked with the other strikers for 12 months, and has probably decided Emmanuel Adebayor and Jemaine Defoe are not the answer to break into the top four. It looks like Defoe is on borrowed time. He is always sharp and likely to get you a goal, but I think AVB wants more from him. Long-term he is not going to be the answer. AVB is probably right to think that, as well as they did last year, they need fresh players.


Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid, left-back)

Of all the players they have been linked with, he is probably the biggest risk. There must be a question mark over him. I think he has done well, but is not exceptional. They are desperate for cover in that position. He has a good pedigree, and is an attacking full-back. Spurs will hope that he is better than they have, that he can provide an attacking threat. There aren't a lot of brilliant left-backs out there.


From my point of view, I would hope there is a 'big six' now in England rather than a 'big five,' with Liverpool in there, but Spurs have certainly applied some pressure to Arsenal and Liverpool with their business.

They finished one point behind Arsenal and 11 ahead of Liverpool last season, but this year is likely to be different. Arsenal have stood still so far. Liverpool have made minor improvements, but Spurs are making giant strides forward. It is down to the rest of them to catch up.

Arsenal and Liverpool probably didn't see this coming from Spurs when they were thinking of challenging for the top four this season.

We know that Arsenal have struggled to close out deals. Liverpool perhaps fall into the same category. Arsenal have £100m in cash to spend, but so far have turned up nothing.

When you do these deals, you have to make them happen. You go in with your eyes wide open knowing there is likely to be an agent wanting a cut, but you just get the deal done.

Villas-Boas doesn't need to know the cost of a player, or how it was done. He just needs to know that the players is his, not Arsenal's or Liverpool's. That is where Spurs have done well.

AVB is only a young manager, but I think he is quite enjoying this. He believes in what he is doing. He didn't take the Chelsea sacking too personally. It was silly dismissal because he was given little time.

The only thing you would say is that you have to give the new players time. But top four is the minimum, and they can't be 15 points behind the top three this season. They should be right in the hunt.

I'm sure over the next two or three years, Spurs will aim to be there on the final day of the season. With Bale going, that is what they are buying for.

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