Tag Archives: Niko Kranjcar

5 Issues AVB Must Solve At White Hart Lane

Andre Villas-Boas has been appointed as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur, just seven weeks after Harry Redknapp guided them to fourth place in the Premier League.

The 34-year-old’s appointment will create some concern at White Hart Lane following his disastrous tenure at west London rivals Chelsea last season where he was fired after just 27 league games in charge. The former Porto manager failed to convince the fans, the players or the owner that he was the right man to deliver them success. In order to avoid a repeat of the same fate with Spurs, here are five issues he must deal with at White Hart Lane..

1. Win Over The Dressing Room And The Supporters

At no stage during his spell at Chelsea did Villas-Boas got the full support of the dressing room. The former Porto manager’s age counted against him. He was 33 when he took over at Stamford Bridge, younger than senior players such as Frank Lampard and barely older than the captain John Terry. With no playing career and only a few years’ coaching experience, he lacked the dignity of older managers and when results didn’t go their way, the protesting voices grew. In the end, Abramovich directly blamed these critics within the squad for the premature end to the Villas-Boas’ tenure. But after a number of humiliating defeats, including the 3-1 defeat against Napoli that left them on the brink of exiting the Champions League, the fans had run out of patience as well.

At Spurs, Villas-Boas must create an immediate bond with his squad. This should be easier than at Chelsea with fewer big egos in the dressing room and he has the advantage of a full pre-season to shape his plans. A strong start in the league will banish the disappointment of Spurs missing out on Champions League qualification and help win over the fans, who would probably have wanted a more experienced manager.

2. Sort Out Luka Modric’s Future

An immediate priority will be to sort out the future of Luka Modric, who is reportedly wanted by Real Madrid and also is a long-term target of Manchester United. The Croatia playmaker, who was an integral part of Tottenham’s success under former manager Harry Redknapp, was promised a new deal last summer after rejected Chelsea’s approach, but he has yet to commit his future to the club. He has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football again and even though he was not at his best last season, he is still one of the most gifted midfielders in the Premier League.

With Modric not inspired by the prospect of playing yet another season in the Europa League, Villas-Boas must waste no time in persuading the most influencial players in his squad to have faith in his plans. If he still wants to leave, then Spurs should let him leave and cash in on him. A fee of £30m-£40m for the former Dinamo Zagreb playmaker who turns 27 soon, would be great business.

3. Strengthen The Defence

To compete for the Premier League or for a place in the Champions League next season, Villas-Boas needs to ensure his team have a very strong defence. That means going to the transfer market. The first priority will be to finalise a deal with Ajax for their skipper Jan Vertonghen. Negotiations for the Belgian international have dragged on all summer and a stage has come that he is already back in pre-season training with the Dutch club. But with most of the hard work completed, Villas-Boas should be able to quickly seal the deal.

Doubts remains over the future of Ledley King. He has become a hero in the eyes of many Tottenham fans after 14 years of loyal service to the club. But the question is how often will he feature in the forthcoming new season. His well-publicised chronic knee problems caught up with him towards the end of last season which may force him into retirement, where he is expected to be offered a coaching role. Such is his influence, if King breaks down again, it will leave a massive hole in the back line – despite the impressive form of Younes Kaboul and the return of Michael Dawson from injury. Vedran Corluka has already departed White Hart Lane this summer, joining Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow for £6m, but the need for defensive acquisitions is less urgent than bringing in new faces up front.

4. Bloster The Strikeforce

Following the departure of Louis Saha this summer and Emmanuel Adebayour’s return to his parent club Manchester City, Spurs have only one recognised striker in their squad – Jermain Defoe. The former Portsmouth forward scored 17 club goals last season – despite spending much time on the bench – but didn’t feature in England’s UEFA EURO 2012 campaign beyoung a 15 minute cameo against France.

Therefore, Villas-Boas will have to immediately dip into the transfer market to buy at least two strikers and his cause will be helped by the transfer budget expected to be given to him by Daniel Levy. Adebayor was a hit last season scoring 18 goals in 37 games but his wages, reported to be around £175,000 a week, have been an obvious stumbling block. If Tottenham can reach some sort of agreement with the former Arsenal man then they should. If that is not possible then another hitman must be pursued. Villas-Boas reportedly has his sights on the 22-year-old Chelsea frontman Daniel Sturridge, with a £10m bid being lined up but Roberto Di Matteo is keen to hang on to the player. Hulk would also be a perfect fit but he appears to be on his way to Chelsea. Brazil striker Leandro Damiao and Marseille’s Loic Remy are possible alternatives.

5. Get Rid Of The Deadwood

Although Andre Villas-Boas will want a big squad that will help him challenge for silverwares on all fronts, there are plenty players increasing the wage bill who could leave. Vedran Corluka, Niko Kranjcar, Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen have already left, but there are still plenty of others who could be discarded. Giovani Dos Santos, Heurelho Gomes, Sebastien Bassong, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and a couple of more reserves players were all out of the first-team picture under Harry Redknapp. Clearing them off the wage bill would free up plenty of money for new signings.

Predicting Spain v Italy And Republic Of Ireland v Croatia

We had our first upset of the tournament yesterday, when Denmark defeated Netherlands in the opening game of Group B. While the second game of the ‘Group of Death’ saw Germany scrap out a 1-0 win over Portugal. Today, it’s time for the likes of Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland and defending champions Spain to take the field in Group C.

Our first match of Group C is a mouth-watering  affair which sees current World and European champions Spain take on the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions Italy in Gdansk, followed by the clash between Slaven Bilic’s Croatia and Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland in Poznan.

Date – 10th June, 19:00 GMT

Stadium – Arena Gdansk, Gdansk

Prediction – Spain come into this tournament as the favourites to defend their title, but they kickoff their campaign with their toughest group game against Italy. Like we saw yesterday during the Germany-Portugal match and have seen in the past, when two big teams clash against each other so early in the tournament, the game is always a cagey affair and don’t expect it to be anything better than it. Spain have by far the best midfield in the world, but at the same time Italians have Andrea Pirlo, who can single handedly change the game with one pass. If the game is to go by anything as expected then it’s going to be Spain dominating the possession with their tiki-taka style of play and the Italians to defend for the most of the game and try to hit on the counter. Spain’s domination and possession football will help them in taking the lead through their World Cup hero Andres Iniesta. But the Italians will attack more and finally get the equaliser in second half and it would be Mario Balotelli to do so.  Spain will continue their domination but will fail to beat Gianlugi Buffon and the game will end in a draw. A fair result in the end.

Predicted Final Score – Spain 1-1 Italy (Iniesta ; Balotelli)

Date – 10th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan

Prediction – Ireland are placed at 80-1 odds to win the finals, but there are very few teams who could match the passion of the Irish players and the fans. Ireland face a tough challenge in Croatia in their opening game. Both the teams are expected to go back home after the group stages and knowing both of them face Italy and Spain up next, expected this one to be an open game. Both teams would go for the win, knowing a win today will be huge for their chances of staying the tournament. Game is expected to be an end-to-end affair with both teams attacking. The Irish players have the passion which helped them qualify for the finals but the Croatian players have the experience of playing in the major tournaments. Robbie Keane will give the Irish the lead in the first half but Croatia will equalise just before the interval through Nikica Jelavic. Croatia will come out and dominate the game in the second half and former Tottenham man, Niko Kranjcar will make the scoreline 2-1 just after the hour mark. Keane and co will come close to finding and equaliser towards the end of the game, but in the Luka Modric and co will hold and grab an important win in their first game of the tournament.

Predicted Final Score – Republic of Ireland 1-2 Croatia (Keane ; Jelavic, Kranjcar)