What is it with Tottenham and strikers from what was the old U.S.S.R? If the whole Sergei Rebrov saga wasn’t a big enough disaster for the club and player, it seems that Harry Redknapp is destined to make the same mistake all over again with another Eastern bloc star, Russian international striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Pavlyuchenko first came to wider attention in England in late 2007 when the Russian star grabbed two second half goals against England to fire Russia to a 2-1 victory over Steve McLaren’s men in Moscow. The tall striker drew comparisons with Andrii Shevchenko with his lethal finishing, movement and tall, elegant grace on the ball. No doubt more than a few Premier league sides dispatched scouts to Moscow to watch the striker and what they found was a striker who averaged around a goal every other game during his ten year spell in Russia with Dynamo Stavropol, Rotor Volgograd and Spartak Moscow and who had a fine all round game, as shown in these videos.
Hunted by several clubs following an impressive Euro 2008 tournament, it was Tottenham that finally clinched a deal with Spartak Moscow in September 2008 to bring the Russian to White Hart Lane in a £14m deal. Although he took a little time to settle in to life in England, Pavlyuchenko showed glimpses of his quality and while he only scored five league goals in his 28 appearances, he was far more prolific in the cup competitions, scoring nine goals in just eight games, giving Spurs fans some hope that 2009-2010 would see the best of Pavlyuchenko displayed at White Hart Lane on a far more consistent basis.
However sadly this season hasn’t worked out like that. Since Pavlyuchenko was signed, manager Harry Redknapp has signed Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch andat the start of the season, all three of Redknapp’s signings seemed ahead of Pavlyuchenko in Harry’s first team plans. This didn’t go down too well with the Russian who earlier this season claimed that being continually overlooked by Redknapp was causing him to have a mental breakdown.
The Russian then furthe blotted his copybook, along with winger David Bentley, when selected for a Tottenham reserve team game and reportedly, according to Harry Redknapp’s version of events, simply going through the motions whilst playing, rather than trying to impress. A performance which so incensed Redknapp that both Bentley and Pavluchenko were omitted from his next matchday squad completely.
Over the past few months, Pavlyuchenko has been linked with moves away to Tottenham with Liverpool, Arsenal, Roma, Spartak Moscow, Valencia and most recently Sporting Lisbon all mooted to be potential destinations in January.
These transfer rumours could well become fact after Pavlyuchenko’s outburst in the Russian press where he felt that Redknapp was “mocking” him by not selecting him in games. Pavlyuchenko stating;
“You cannot even imagine how tired I am of sitting on the bench,
“Do you want to hear the most recent joke in London? It goes: Harry Redknapp put Roman Pavlyuchenko in the starting line-up.
“For me it would be funny if it was not so painful. I have a feeling that our manager is mocking me.”
Why has it gone wrong? Simple really. Pavlyuchenko was never a Redknapp signing and his performances convinced the Spurs boss that he wasn’t likely to fit into his plans long term. It isn’t a case of Pavlyuchenko being a bad player, more that he didn’t fit in with Harry’s plans for Spurs, which have proven to be rather successful. His subsequent attitude since and his continual snipings, only have proven Redknapp’s assertions quite right.
So Roman, Harry may not be mocking you in January, but I have the distinct feeling that he will be selling you.
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