Van der Vaart Performances Highlight Transfer Market Complexities

Usually, I think of the Tiny Totts as comic relief and nothing more. At times when I get tired of the Arsenal Misery Brigade I think of players like Keane and Defoe talking about being better than Arsenal or having more depth and stuff like that, or ‘Arry talking of winning titles, and best of all some miserable, frustrated spuds making complete fools of themselves with some seriously asinine comments.

In this post however, I don’t want to laugh at them or discuss the rivalry. We can do that later in the week. For now I want to focus on Rafael Van der Vaart, a prodigious talent thriving amongst mediocrity.

I have a soft spot for VdV not only due to his immense talent but also because of the fact that he was probably the only one in the Dutch team who was on the same wavelength as RvP. Watching them play together was a real joy and the natural thought was to think of them together in the Arsenal team. But I did realize we had too many players with similar qualities and it would be quite tough to fit Van der Vaart in even if he came for a bargain. I have no doubt he’d have picked Arsenal over Spuds if Arsene had shown interest, but I can understand why Le Boss didn’t make a move (See, it’s funny even without trying. I mean what can you do but laugh when the most talented player at your bitter rivals is there only because there are too many like him at your club!).

The part I’m interested in is the changes Redknapp has had to make to fit VdV in. The future England manager (!) has had to move from his favoured 4-4-2 towards a variant of 4-5-1 in order to play the Dutchman in an advanced role.

On the surface you could say it was a successful switch as Van der Vaart scored in his first six home games. Clearly a successful transfer and I’m sure some gooners were secretly or even openly wishing he’d come to Arsenal.

Interestingly, if you take a look at details, it’s not such a rosy picture. If I’m not mistaken, after the first thirteen League games last season, the Tinies had 32 goals and 25 points put them in third place on the table, one spot above Arsenal. This season they’re in 7th with 19 points having scored only 18 goals.

So, on the one side they’ve acquired an exceptionally talented player who has contributed a significant number of goals from midfield. On the other, they’ve struggled to improve on their performances from last season and don’t look like a top 4 team. It seems rather counterintuitive.

Obviously, some injuries and the exertions in the Champions League are having an impact. But I don’t consider either to be big enough reasons to completely justify their performances.

To me the problem is down to three factors,

  • Redknapp was forced into changing his system
  • Van der Vaart doesn’t always contribute in defence (forcing others to stay back more often) and doesn’t have the stamina to play at a high tempo for 90 mins (could be due to the fact that he had an uncertain summer and didn’t have a proper preseason)
  • The players are still adapting to his style and will take some time to gel

The reason I’m getting into this is because such problems occur in almost all transfers, especially the big ones.

Keep this in mind and think about how well Chamakh, Koscielny, and Squillaci have done.

The Moroccan’s biggest strength is in the air and one could argue we don’t use it well enough. I’d agree but don’t we need to be a lot more patient? Chamakh has had to adapt to the movement of Walcott and Arshavin, the passing of Cesc, Rosicky and Nasri, and the physical nature of the League. Similarly, the other players in the squad are getting to know his runs/movements and strengths.

Ideally, we would want a lot more and it can get frustrating at times when we play like the way we did against Newcastle. There are times when I read gooners commending the likes of Bale and Van der Vaart for a good game (nothing wrong with that) and at the same time having a go at Chamakh or Arshavin (almost everything’s wrong with that!). I can relate to the feelings of most fans.  But criticism without a grain of perspective is just stupidity in disguise.

Similar arguments can be made about the defence. Neither Squillaci, Koscielny, nor Djourou has had a proper run in the side or played with a regular partner at the back. There are times when we can see a lack of understanding or a mix-up. Sometimes it leads a heart-in-mouth moment. We want better no doubt, but we also have to acknowledge the complexities involved.

I could even say the same for the new goalkeeper argument. Some people think bringing someone like Reina will change things overnight. It just doesn’t work that way. At Arsenal the game style demands a lot more from the Keeper. That was the reason all of last season I kept talking of improving the defending in front of the Goalie and it’s not difficult to see Arsenal have signed Centre Backs with specific skills in that area. And we’ve seen the impact of these changes. There is still room for improvement but we’ve taken giant strides in the right direction.

Come to think of it, one of the few things that I find funnier than anything Spuds is people who say one or two ‘big name’ signings will make Arsenal a top team.

Before signing a player, not only must a manager know how good a player is, he must also be able to judge how soon he would adapt, how the other players will respond to him, and whether the overall team performances will improve and to what extent. Of course, it’s not a perfect science which just makes it that much harder. And without a shadow of doubt there is no other manager who comes close to Arsene in this regard.

The Tinies spent big money on Pavlyuchenko and he took two years to deliver. Even now he is not considered good enough to be first choice. They spend good money on Palacios who was supposed to be a big player for them in the recent past. Rarely gets a game these days. Only the Tiny Totts could sell an in-form Robbie Keane and by him back after all life had been sucked out of him. These are just some examples and looking back over the last few years, the churn at Spuds and stability at Arsenal highlights the stark contrast.

Sorry, I can’t stop laughing after looking at those examples and the transfer chaos at the Tinies. More on this some other time.

21 Responses to Van der Vaart Performances Highlight Transfer Market Complexities

  1. Arsha says:

    Bang on the money.

    Look at Barcelona. You think that team just came into existence suddenly? It took years of stability and growing familiarity of the players with one another to achieve that level of football. Compare and contrast with Manchester City who suddenly veer from good to mediocre and will never really be a top team due to the constant up heavels.

  2. Mick says:

    Don’t worry they will head east in 2012. 🙂

  3. Steve Palmer says:

    We can mock Spuds all we like but we have to remember what they achieved against Inter, absolutly outstanding display, hurts me to say that. Inter are a very good team, and if we dont take this game seriously we may have egg on our face.

    • MSL says:

      Inter under Benitez are like zombies. Have you seen them? They all look like they are still in love with JM. Nothing to take away from Spurs but they are just not like the side they were last year.

    • Champion says:

      Inter have been abysmal! That’s like saying Stoke are a brilliant team because they beat Liverpool! The sooner Rafa is sacked the better off they will be. I never thought he could manage that group of players – especially coming off the back of CL win and different style of management and league. Watching the tiny totts match confirmed that he is indeed an average manager.

      The problem is Inter are thinking about whom they could get to replace him – 1st choice Capello isn’t available for a while, unless he walks away early. ‘arry’s PR team is promoting him quite strongly as the next England manager at the moment so the thought did cross my mind and I do think Rednapp would up and leave the totts in brown paper bag second.

      If Inter were smart they would start tapping up Frank Rikjaard, whom would do really well there with the current group of players at Inter.

      • critic says:

        inter who???it was certainly not mourinhio’s inter. Inter of this season is not the same as inter of last season, when they were good in defending as a team.

        They only inflated the price of bale.

    • LondonGunner says:

      Inter were no where near last year a mediocre at best.

  4. MSL says:

    This article brings out an interesting perspective about money in football. Credit is due for the likes of Jose, Fergie et al who are unwisely called lucky to have the funds. But, now we see how money is important but managerial and scouting talent are far more influential.

    I said this earlier sometime, having many choices is good but the drawback is when you change combinations then they might not always work smoothly. Squillaci was better when he started now he is either exhausted or losing his concentration.

    Another aspect of VdV is his physical stamina and injury prone-ness. Also, Huddlestone,Palacios and Jenas are not good enough to play with. An intelligent player like VdV will find it difficult without the likes of Modric. Wenger is so good at identifying players and make the work like clockwork that it has set standards for expectations everywhere.

    Arry Redknapp is bloody overrated. Bale would have never played if not for the injuries in the Spuds squad. His golden triangle vision for English football team made me tear up with laughter. I would rather have Owen Coyle or Ian Holloway manage England.

    • Champion says:

      Well said MSL, what is it about ‘arry the demotivater? He always does well for a season or two and then his teams go down hill. You can also add Peter Crouch to the list of people VDV is struggling to play with. ‘Arry has sacrificed a lot of his players to accomodate his 8m ‘bargain’!

      Desi, I am not going laugh too much ahead of the tinnie totts game because I have been amazed at the very favourable refereeing decisions that have gone there way this season. VDV and Gallas will play out of their skins so I don’t expect it to be an easy match at all. I think VDV has developed a grudge against the Gunners for not buying him. Of course I still expect us to win, but it will be a hard fought match.

  5. Archimedes says:

    I think you are partially correct because I think Europe is a big burden, 4 games aleady v 13 in the league. Fatigue and injuries means you need squad depth and coupled with lenient refereeing in England means that the average premier league team has 5 players or 20% of squad injured (except at the beginning of the season), top teams with CL or EL games even higher but so far this season injuries at Tott has meant only 2 of their players have started in 11 or more league games, while Chelski and Citeh have 8 players each. As reference, the same stats for ManU, L’pool and Arsenal is 6, 5, and 5. Not a Totts fan but I doubt Totts had so many on the injury list at this stage last year. Interesting take away is how Chelski is going to cope with selection with their rising injury list, given that they only named 19 players in their squad.

  6. Greatwhitenorthgooner says:

    I’m not quite sure what to make of the following story, other than that it confirms everyone’s existing suspicions about loveable old ‘arry’s tactical sophistication and raises new suspicions about what kind of mushrooms VdV has been putting on his pizza:

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Billy McBoney, EpiKnightz. EpiKnightz said: DesiGunner: Van der Vaart Performances Highlight Transfer Market Complexities: Usually, I think of the … #Arsenal […]

  8. Kofi says:

    the difference btween Man City and Chelski is
    Claudio Ranieri b4 big spendin Mourinho
    Ranieri is a good manager who built a team only for glory men like Mourinho. Check the progress stats. Harry and co need to build a core and that takes sacrifice of trophies.

  9. Dhruv says:

    You forgot the best signing of all. David Bentley was finally returning “home” after being educated by the “enemy”. What is he doing?

  10. Steve Palmer says:

    You guys are missing the point, if we were playing Inter at the weekend you obviously think we would smash them up easy, the thing is we are playing the team that did bash them up and if we dont get our act in gear it could be us, i hope we do smash their arses into the ground, feel free to slag me off after the weekend, but dont take this game to lightly.

    • We WOULD smash Inter home and away. Italian teams cant defend nor attack to save their lives. How spurs conceded 4 is beyond me althought credit to Samuel Eto’o- what a player he is.

      People can bang on all they like about Inter Milan and AC Milan and Roma are big teams but truth is, against Premier League opposition they are no match.

      Do you recall how we took apart AC Milan the year after they won the Champions League? it was 2-0 away but at home it could easily have be 5 or 6-0 if it wasnt for the incompetence of Adebayor.
      Inter were good under Jose because his philosophy is based around defending with 10 and attacking with 1.

  11. drasl says:

    Spurs are just injury stricken, Defoe has been out for the season. Dawson, Corluka, King and Woodgate as well.. Gallas has been playing with a knock I hear.

    Kranckjar has been injured and unfit a good portion of the season, O´hara is completely out, Dos Santos also out.. VDV isnt fit for 90min, Lennon even has been out for a good portion.. And now Huddlestone.

    As good as the squad is having only Kaboul/Bassong and an unfit Gallas as default defenders is going to the affect results. Not to mention having only Pav and Crouch as strikers, they are to similar and dont offer enough tactics together. Keane is to old..

  12. God Loves Arsenal says:

    I think we’ll meet AC Milan again in the round of 16 of da CL. And i bet u, they’ll suffer the same fate they did some yrs bak. As for Spurs they should start thinkin of how to come bak into da title race afta flopin at The Emirates. I pray we win every game from now til 31st Dec. Keep da faith blazin! Arsenal da Best.
    Kelvin 4rm Ghana.

  13. shakabulagooner says:

    Desi,You just said a good one and I quote: …but criticism without a grain of perspective is just stupidity in disguise…
    We get a good load of stupidity in the newspapers, on the blogs over matters related to football and other areas of life that I see the quote surfacing in various shapes and forms soon. Better look for a way to earn money on it when people start quoting you here and there.
    As to the main topic, Arsenal shows what patience and perspective can build but the others show what money and rush to glory can slap together. I believe too that harry in CL will respect Wenger more now; seeing the schedule he has been coping with every year in the last 10 or so years.

  14. Furovich says:

    I think Spurs are a far better team now than last year with the addition of RVDV. The fact they haven’t scored so many goals is largely due to the fact that Lennon and Defoe have been struggling for form and injuries. Statistics like position on the table and goals scored aren’t always accurate because those statisitcs don’t take into consideration the performances of the opposition. Desi, I remember a while ago you said that you don’t watch teams other than Arsenal play because you don’t have time. If you have watched Spurs this season you will see that one of the things about RVDV (and the tactics of Harry) is that he does infact drop into defence and indeed all over the park making up an extra man in midfield when Spurs need him.

    You can call Spurs formation a 4-4-2 a 4-5-1 or a 4-4-1-1 but it doesn’t make too much difference because their whole team is working in attack and defence. Harry is no fool and has a long and respected carreer. I think he has shown tactical flexibility and RVDV is evidence of that. Harry wouldn’t of signed him if he didn’t want to be flexible with his formation.

    Spurs are even playing a 4-3-3 similar to Arsenal at times when going forward;
    Crouch/Pav up front, Bale and Lennon on the wings, Huddlestone and Modric in the middle and RVDV playing an attacking role very similar to that of Fabregas.

    I don’t see how any one that’s watched Spurs over the last 2 years could criticise Spurs or Harry much. He’s helped build a team that’s challenging the bigger clubs of Europe and England. Personaly I think Spurs are a much more dangerous side than they were last year.

    Desi, you also use Palacios’ lack of recent appearances as an example of transfer chaos at Tottenham. This isn’t a very good example considering that tradgically his brother was kidknapped and killed at the end of last season and this has coincided with a dip of form.

  15. […] Van der Vaart Performances Highlight Transfer Market Complexities Usually, I think of the Tiny Totts as comic relief and nothing more. At times when I get tired of the Arsenal Misery […] […]

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