Vincent Janssen has done little to deserve his small wave of critics.
Spurs fans have had it good for a significantly-unlike-Spurs time period but now there are reasons for concern, it’s time for a new s
capegoat. Moussa Sissoko aside, step up Vincent Janssen. The culture of the modern football fan says that it must be you.
It’s a genuine shame that Spurs’ new striker, who was bought to support and ease the pressure on Harry Kane, has found himself in such a position of responsibility. When Harry Kane was stretchered off against Sunderland earlier in the season, it was not quite the disaster that it would have been last season. Spurs had not only bought a secondary striker, but one who helped himself to 27 goals in the Eredivisie last season.
Now it’s almost December. Spurs are out of the Champions League and sit 7 points off top. Arsenal haven’t had their usual November, Chelsea sit top, Liverpool are oozing goals and Manchester City will only get better. Spurs in contrast boast just 19 goals in 13 games, have lost their crumbly unbeaten streak and the fans are now looking for cracks in the squad. Having scored just 1 Premier League goal from the spot against Leicester, Janssen is perhaps unfairly in the firing line.
Predictably, the Dutchman has been discussed in the same terms as his predecessor, Roberto Soldado. That sort of comparison is unwarranted, misjudged and most concernningly, unnecessary. The need for a scapegoat is part and parcel of the cynicism in the game, but Janssen is undeserving of that tag. With the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung Min Son all displaying questionable form, it seems incredulous that a portion of the blame is lying at the feet of Janssen. On reflection, it’s probably because he wasn’t part of all the good that happened last season, but that still remains excessive.
The return of Harry Kane has done little for his partner. In the England striker’s absence, Janssen struggled to make a meaningful impact. Earning a reputation for a try-hard achieves a few sympathetic admirers, but goals are what makes the striker. Kane has scored 4 in 4, leaving the ex-AZ Alkmaar with just substitute appearance scraps to make his name. So, is that deserving of cynicism?
Absolutely not. In light of Pochettino’s quotes on Sissoko, ‘football is not about the money’. £18m is no longer a marker of guaranteed goals, but more the going rate for any 22 year old striker who had gone at almost a goal every game in his previous season. Financial markers are easy goers for the fans. It’s why Soldado was ousted, it’s why Lamela still isn’t valued and exactly why Sissoko’s transfer was met with trepidation. Janssen will live with that figure on his head until the fans feel he has justified it. Until then, it’s far too easy to ask why cheaper alternatives like Charlie Austin weren’t pursued.
This isn’t a comprehensive defence of Tottenham’s new no.9. While his hold up play is genuinely outstanding, he is far too often found with his back to goal. When Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are lashing crosses across the 6 yard box, Janssen is often found peeling off or still making his way into the box. As a striker he is still very raw but the potential remains there. Playing with Harry Kane will help mould him into a more accomplished goal getter but, until then, he has to weather the storm brewing amongst the Spurs fans.