Is Pochettino fast tracking Veljković?

Tottenham have got themselves in a pickle at centre-back which stems from a lack of forward planning.

Spurs fast track Veljković



When Harry Redknapp was manager he was a 'player for now' manager, he would bring in proven players who could do a job now with little or no regard for the future. At centre-back he bought in William Gallas, fine for a couple of years and then injuries and Ryan Nelsen to cover for injuries. That sort of policy merely pushes a problem away for a year or two.

When you have a settled centre-back pairing then youngsters coming through who want to play simply say, as Steven Caulker did, I can't see myself playing enough so I want to leave. Had he stayed he would have been a regular by now and a firm fans favourite.

Now though we have Younès Kaboul, who has only ever had one decent season n a Spurs shirt and is living off its memory, a slowing Michael Dawson, who was never quick to begin with. Vlad Chiriches, who can't adapt to the Premier League and can't be trusted, and Jan Vertonghen  who wants Champions League football.

At the moment only one, Jan Vertonghen, is good enough. An overhaul is needed and long term centre-backs found. I am beginning to wonder if Mauricio Pochettino, who has identified the area as a weakness, has already shown us his long term solution.

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Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches it would appear are surplus to his requirements, sales for both are actively being sought. Their replacements will be one defender with experience, ideally around 25/26 years of age and one young centre-back. John Stones of Everton interests us, as does Eric Dier of Sporting and Jamaal Lescelles of Nottingham Forest.

Héctor Moreno has broken his leg and Dejan Lovren has chosen Liverpool it seems. But what next, what of the future so the problem isn't going to arise in another couple of years when perhaps Vertonghen leaves and Kaboul hits 30.

Mauricio Pochettino may have identified his long term solution and he may have shown it to us on the pre-season tour of the US and Canada. Zeki Fryers has played both his games at centre-back and while looking a little dodgy, he is a newcomer to the position. Tim Sherwood felt he was a centre-back who could play left-back and last season he did play mainly at left-back. Mauricio Pochettino may have decided the same and be grooming him as a central defender.

But it's not just Fryers, he can't solve the situation on his own. A solution may be to fast track highly-rated 18-year-old Serbian Miloš Veljković. Tim Sherwood gave him game time as a defensive midfielder, bringing him to the attention of fans and media alike. That was a very shrewd and unselfish move from Sherwood. Now there is interest in a player regarded as being beyond his years and with interest comes the pressure to give opportunities and with that comes game time.

Against Toronto Pochettino paired Veljković with Younès Kaboul in the first half and Zeki Fryers with Michael Dawson in the second half. Both were able to pass on their experience to the youngsters. Veljković is not going to be ready this season, it will probably be two seasons before he is drafted in for games regularly but he is already a better central defender than Fryers. Fryers however being taller is better in the air.

That's the sort of forward planning the club needs, a solution now and a solution for the future.

Fast tracking Veljković, specialising with Fryers and signing a young centre-back together with a 25-year-old would give us in two seasons time, the experience of Kaboul at 30 and players of 27, 23, 22 and 20, assuming Vertonghen has left by then.

That appears to me what Pochettino is aiming at so that when the time comes to let Kaboul go we have a guy three years younger to assume his experienced mantle. There will always be comings and goings but there has to be a long term plan and that appears to be it.



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