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Inside Lane: Will lightning striker twice at Spurs?

Jermain Defoe (centre) limps off against West Brom Jermain Defoe (centre) limps off against West Brom

Thursday, February 7, 2013
7:00 AM

Tottenham blogger Declan Olley questions Tottenham’s lack of forward thinking after last season’s collapse.

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When the news filtered through that Tottenham’s deadline day pursuit of Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao was over, I sank low into my chair. I sank even lower on Sunday, when Jermain Defoe hobbled off at West Brom.

I was adamant throughout January that Spurs had to sign a striker. Defoe’s form has dipped – he has goals in his last 12 appearances – while Emmanuel Adebayor had one in eight before his departure to South Africa.

Now, after being knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations, our Togolese forward has admitted that he is “physically exhausted”.

Add this to Defoe’s injury and head coach Andre Villas-Boas’ “big risk” of opting not to sign a forward looks to have backfired spectacularly. Granted, Tottenham won on Sunday without a recognised striker, but that narrow victory owed much to Goran Popov’s sending-off.

Of course, Tottenham have found themselves in this ‘under-strength striker’ position before – and it didn’t end well.

Having looked odds-on for a top three finish last January, an underwhelming winter window contributed to a dramatic collapse which saw Spurs clinging on to fourth place in the end, only to miss out on Champions League football after Chelsea’s win in Munich. Lessons have not been learned.

The deadline day rush to sign Damiao smacked of a “we tried” attempt. After all, this is a player Tottenham have been tracking for what feels like decades, so surely they should know the ins and outs of the deal by now?

I would, however, argue that the signing of Lewis Holtby is an improvement on last year’s window. In his first two appearances, the German has brought inspiration and creativity to a side that had been crying out for it, and at 22 years old he has a bright future ahead of him at White Hart Lane.

That said, Holtby is not a renowned goalscorer and this is what Spurs needed in addition to the ex-Schalke man. Villas-Boas’ side are the second-lowest scorers in the top six and, with the race for third and fourth growing ever more competitive, the lack of a cutting-edge strike force will severely cost the team.

There were murmured chants from the Spurs end on Sunday that “we should have bought a striker”, and I fear these could grow louder as the season plays out – especially if Adebayor was to join Defoe in the treatment room.

Follow me @declanolley

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