COMMENTARY | We've seen this numerous times in the past from Tottenham Hotspur forward Jermain Defoe.
Defoe has, throughout his career, been a second-tier striker on the world scene. He is, when in-form and at his best, capable of burying top-class finishes, such as the one that stunned Manchester City at White Hart Lane last spring. His lack of consistency and his cold spells have, on a yearly basis, seen him dropped down the pecking order for the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Emmanuel Adebayor and, this season, Roberto Soldado.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has relegated Defoe to Europa League and Capital One Cup duties at the start of the 2013-14 campaign, and the England international has responded by burying two goals in each of this three starts. Defoe currently leads Tottenham with six goals across all competitions. Soldado is behind Defoe with four tallies, two of which were scored from the penalty spot. Soldado thus far has six total starts this season.
Defoe's form in his limited starts, more specifically his two goals in Tuesday evening's 4-0 Tottenham win over Aston Villa, has some Spurs fans calling into sports talk radio and posting on social networking websites suggesting that Defoe and not Soldado should get the start this coming Saturday when Tottenham host Chelsea. It's an idea that makes plenty of sense on paper. Spurs have struggled scoring in the run of play during Premier League contests. Why not give the team's hottest striker over an hour to find the back of the net against Chelsea?
It is, as anybody who has followed this team for years knows, not at all that simple. Villas-Boas, in a short time, seemingly learned that Defoe is the type of player that a manager has to keep hungry and, dare I say, even a little angry. It's when the soon-to-be 31-year forward becomes a mainstay that the cold streaks and goal droughts appear. If that wasn't the case, chairman Daniel Levy wouldn't have spent the last several summers actively searching for a true front man.
AVB has gotten just about everything right with how he has handled his squads in the past 14 months or so. That, and also the fact that Villas-Boas wants Spurs to serious compete in all four of their competitions this season, fills me with confidence that Defoe is going to see significant playing time outside of Premier League fixtures. The hope is that Defoe will continue burying goals on weeknights, propelling Tottenham to victories in tournaments and also keeping pressure on Soldado.
Defoe, if current trends continue through the fall months, should eventually supplant Soldado in AVB's first-choice lineup. It's not yet time for that. Anybody who would disagree should remember one thing:
Villas-Boas and Tottenham could have a lot worse than a ticked off and motivated Defoe on the bench as a second half scoring option.
For more: Tottenham depth
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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