Top 5 worst January signings – when Tottenham got it wrong
When the January transfer window was introduced in the 2002/03 season, it was met with scepticism by the British football loving public, as well as the Premier League itself. The thought of being restricted to signing players in designated ‘registration periods’ in the summer and winter was something foreign, something evil. How wrong we all were… Whilst chairman and administrative staff must burn the midnight oil, trying to push through deals at the last minute (think Benjani to Manchester City from Portsmouth, January 2008) the rest of us can put our feet up and spend the 31st January watching Sky Sports News. Some clubs (spoil sports I like to call them) do not like to sign players in January. During this window alone, Steve Bruce reminded us that January was a ‘bad time to do business.’ Well someone must not have told that to Daniel Levy, because in January, Tottenham’s cheque book is on fire! If he’s not resigning players they sold barely a year before (Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe, Pascal Chimpbonda etc), they’re ploughing Europe for top players. Yes, January has seen Spurs bring in the likes of Emil Hallfradsen, Mounir El Hamdaoui, Hossam Ghaly, and even lesser known talents such as Danny Murphy. However, not all Tottenham’s signings have been as spectacularly successful as these, so let’s scour the record books, and in no particular order, name Tottenham’s top 5 worst January signings…
1. Da Silva Gilberto – The £1.9 million signing on 31st January 2008 was billed at one stage as the natural successor to Roberto Carlos for Brazil. He arrived at Tottenham with 27 Brazil caps under his belt, scoring against Japan at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. With Gareth Bale a long term absentee, the left-sided Brazilian, who could play in defence or midfield, would provide cover and competition for places… in truth, he just ended up being really, really bad. His debut would set the trend. In the first-leg of the Uefa Cup last-16 tie at White Hart Lane in 2008, the cultured Brazilian tried to dribble the ball out from defence, only to get tackled by Farfan, who coolly slotted home. Gilberto was subsequently hauled off at half-time, and Tottenham failed to overcome PSV in the second leg, losing out to an inspired Huerelho da Silva Gomes in a penalty shoot-out. Gilberto went on to make just 9 more appearances for the club, his farewell match coming in the Uefa Cup against Spartak Moscow in December 2008. Once more, it included an early bath for Gilberto, this time subbed at half-time after he gifted the Russians a goal after hesitating with a Gareth Bale back pass. Not even a goal against West Ham in the 2007/08 season is enough to save Gilberto from the dreaded list.
2. Kazuyuki Toda – The no-nonsense, tough-tackling Japanese central midfielder was brought in by Glenn Hoddle on the 23rd January 2003 on a year-long loan, and was Tottenham’s first ever January transfer window signing. The player had been training with Sunderland for two weeks, but on the day he was to sign for the Wearsiders, Howard Wilkinson received a call from the player’s agent saying he was going to Tottenham. Hoddle told BBC Sport upon his arrival,
“Toda is an immensely impressive midfielder and we are delighted to welcome him to the club”.
Although Toda played an instrumental part in Japan’s success at the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and South-Korea, the player only managed 4 appearances for Tottenham during his year at the club, 2 of those as a substitute, and he looked well out of his depth in the Premier League. He couldn’t pass or shoot (a slight problem for a midfielder), and seemed to enjoy nothing more than giving the opposition a good kick… However, despite his shortcomings, he did manage to add some flair to the Tottenham midfield, his highlighted hair adding some real style to a midfield containing Goran Bunjevcevic and Simon Davies. Real Madrid and Shimizu S-Pulse fans may also remember Toda after he spat at Beckham in Real Madrid’s pre-season tour of the Far East. In short a terrible signing.
3. Andy Reid – He may have the voice of an angel, but his singing and guitar skills cannot save Andy from joining the list of Tottenham’s top 5 worst January signings. Reid joined Tottenham from Nottingham Forest on 31st January 2005 along with Michael Dawson, in a deal worth £8 million (£4.5 million for Reid, £3.5 million for Dawson). Questions were immediately raised regarding his physique, with Gary Megson questioning Reid’s fitness live on television, ironically after a fifth-round FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest, in February 2005. However, Martin Jol reassured the fans that Tottenham had,
“done tests with Andy Reid last week and it showed that he is one of the fittest players at the club… We conducted some body fat tests on him and the results were good.”
As it turned out, Jol had used the same doctors that had conducted Jonathan Woodgate’s medical, and declared him a fine physical specimen. Reid made a total of 27 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham, scoring just one goal. Although he has since impressed for Sunderland under Steve Bruce, he will be remembered less for his weight in goals, than for his weight in pounds (lbs).
4. Alan Hutton – With Tottenham having conceded 40 goals in 23 Premier League games prior to Hutton’s arrival, the Scottish international’s £8 million transfer to Spurs from Glasgow Rangers was a deliberate attempt by Juande Ramos to re-shape the Tottenham defence. The player had turned down Daniel Levy not once, but twice in the past, and with the player having been heavily linked with Manchester United, Hutton’s eventual arrival at Spurs was met with real enthusiasm. However, since his move to Spurs on 30th January 2008, he has managed just 34 appearances in all competitions, and scored no goals. Although the player looks capable going forward, he has looked painfully suspect defensively, his performance at Arsenal in the 2008/09 campaign sticking in the memory. After pulling the score back to 3-2 through Darren Bent, Hutton immediately gifted the ball to Adebayor with a tame back pass, who squared for Van Persie to finish. Although all players make mistakes, the sickening celebrations that Van Persie and Adebayor embarked upon as a result of Hutton’s pass deems the event unforgivable. Now second choice to Vedran Corluka, Tottenham cannot sell Hutton without taking a massive hit. Quite frankly, a waste of money.
5. Ricardo Rocha – Another player that went to Tottenham with a big reputation, signing on 23rd January 2007 for £3.3 million. In the 2005/06 season, Rocha put in some great performances in the Champions League for Benfica. He was called “Ronaldinho’s shadow”, marking the Brazilian out of the quarter final first-leg at the other ‘Stadium of Light’, whilst also performing admirably against Manchester United earlier in the competition. Despite these accolades, in only his second performance for Spurs, Rocha already appeared to be another multi-million pound waste of time. In the Carling Cup semi-final, second-leg, Rocha came on as a substitute, replacing Gardner in the 73rd minute. Mido’s equalising goal had sent the tie into extra time, and the match appeared to be ebbing towards penalties. Then in the last minute of the first half of injury time, Rocha stumbled to the ground and only half cleared a simple cross from Denilson. Jeremie Aliadiere swept the ball home, Rocha’s mistake costing Tottenham a place in the Carling Cup final and a day out at Cardiff (actually, perhaps Ricardo did Tottenham fans a favour). Rocha never recovered after this, and his diminutive stature never allowed him to excel in the highly physical Premier League. Certainly, Rocha was not the Portuguese Chris Perry. Rocha managed to make a total of just 18 appearances in all competitions in two and-a-half years, and was eventually released in June 2009. Now plying his trade for Standard Liege, few Tottenham fans will miss the Portuguese.
Well, maybe old Stevie Bruce is right? Tottenham spent just under £18 million on these boys, and yet none are likely to go down in Tottenham’s hall of fame. However, it just wouldn’t be the same if this January 31st Mr. Levy didn’t have us glued to Sky Sports news on deadline day, watching the next crop of Tottenham flops joining a doomed regime at the club…