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THE BIG KICK-OFF: Gary Mabbutt on Keane, Berbatov, Modric and Bentley

PUBLISHED: 07:49 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 07 September 2010

WHAT a transfer merry go round. Everybody expected Dimitar Berbatov to leave – and he may still do – but the big shock was Robbie Keane wanting to leave and join Liverpool. Robbie has his reasons but it has hit the fans hard. For me, Robbie was our best

WHAT a transfer merry go round. Everybody expected Dimitar Berbatov to leave - and he may still do - but the big shock was Robbie Keane wanting to leave and join Liverpool.

Robbie has his reasons but it has hit the fans hard. For me, Robbie was our best player last season. He's a big character in the dressing room and popular with the fans. His departure will be a big setback.

I like Robbie as a player and as a person. It is a big disappointment. Liverpool are his childhood team and there is the added attraction of Champions League football.

After being the best of the rest with fifth place finishes for two years, finishing 11th last season was not what he had expected.

Robbie's not a spring chicken any more and of course the move is a great opportunity to make his family secure for life. But from a fans' point of view it is very disappointing.

If Berbatov does leave of course it will be a big blow to lose a player like him. He is an excellent player with a great touch. However, the fans should be gratified for what he has done. But there was an expectation already among the fans that he wanted to leave at the end of last season and it showed in some of his displays.

For me, the main thing is for things to settle down. At this time of year football's rumour mill is in full flight and this year is no exception. I'd like to see the transfer window shut by now. In fact I'd like to see all the wheeling and dealing finished by the start of pre-season - this would allow clubs to get on with building for the new season.

I do not want a situation where a club's squad is ripped apart when a big offer comes in for four of their players as happened to Spurs when Sunderland offered £20 million plus for four of our players - now Steed Malbranque, Teemu Tainio and Pascal Chimbonda have left for Wearside.

As it stands, players can be bought and sold until August 31 - nearly two and half weeks into the season. But squads should not be ripped apart. Indeed, contracts mean very little now as has been shown at various clubs this season. It does not make sense. Managers should have the chance to have players in place after finishing the previous season. That way teams know where they are before pre-season starts.

Juande Ramos has signed some excellent players in Luka Modric, David Bentley (pictured below), Gio dos Santos, Heurelho Gomes and young John Bostock.

For me, Modric is an excellent signing. He was one of the stars of Euro 2008 and the club did well to sign him before the finals which meant we landed him a lot cheaper than if we had waited until after the tournament. He will become a huge favourite with the fans. He's an excellent player and will provide the creativity we lacked last season.

Dos Santos is not an out and out striker. He plays more off the front two. If you look back to the start of last season we had four strikers - Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, Berbatov and Keane. Two have since departed and with Berbatov's future in the balance we could start the season with just Bent.

Ramos could of course look at playing just one striker up front with a five-man midfield. The last time Spurs employed that tactic was back in 1987 when Clive Allen scored all those goals. But it is not a system that Ramos has used. He could use it - it all depends which players are still at the club. There are a number of strikers on Ramos's radar.

Bentley is a great signing. We have been following him for a long time and he is the sort of quality player we need. I am a big admirer of his and I think he will fit in very nicely into our set up.

Gomes is a goalkeeper I've not seen too much of but the little I have he appears to be excellent. Gomes had two big matches when we played PSV in the Uefa Cup and I guess those games played a big part in his signing.

Bostock is so young but has the potential. He's a Spurs type of player. Next season seven substitutes will be allowed so there may well be chances for him to impress.

However, from a fans' point of view what they want is a settled squad to start the season. All clubs have problems and the hope is that all our new players, the likes of Modric, Gomes, dos Santos and Bentley settle in quickly.

Yes, we won the Carling Cup last season which guaranteed us European football again but it is imperative that we get back on track in the league.

After two successive fifth place finishes there was a lot of expectation last season. But it was unfilled in the league and we were left trailing the top four. Everton pushed Liverpool all the way for the fourth spot last season and I see us as a similar club in status to Everton. There is no reason why we can't do the same this season.

Gary Mabbutt was talking

to Patrick Mooney


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