Monday, March 9, 2009

Roman Wasn't Built In a Day

Roman Pavlyuchenko has insisted in the papers today that he has no plans to leave Tottenhamin the summer, even with the competition from Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe. There haven't been that many rumors about Roman moving on, even though he hasn't really settled at the club. He has mentioned his fondness for Manchester United, which most can understand, though I don't think it was the best idea to reveal that before the Carling Cup Final.

Much has been said and written about Roman's lack of prowess in front of the net this season, but I want to defend the big Russian. He was brought in at the very last minute this summer and had no preseason to work his way into the team. He also had come from the Euros and a Russian season and hasn't had any extended time off in over a year at this point, which certainly does something to the body over time.

Given some time to rest in the close season, and to have an entire preseason to be able to learn how to play off of Keane and Defoe, I think Roman can be the large target player that we had in Mido several years ago. He has a surprising touch for someone so big, and looked to be creating a rapport with Defoe before his injury. In the Boro game he also showed some understanding with Robbie, which is promising.

The other problem that Roman has had is that he has not been able to have an extended run in the team with a consistent lineup, something that has plagued the entire team this year. As Ramos and Harry have tinkered to get results, the chemistry has never been created that a team like Aston Villa has created through the year.

When Roman came in he was deployed as a long striker, with Modric playing off of him, and then in a partnership with Darren Bent. He has also been deployed in a combo with Frazier Campbell (who will be back on his to United, and another loan spell with another team at the end of the year), Defoe and Keane. That is quite a few lineups and combos to have to work with, and this has been on a constantly rotating basis for someone adapting to a new country and a new style of play has overwhelmed him I think.

I'm not saying he isn't without faults, he could be much stronger in the air given his height, but I think we'll see a different player next season. All of the supporters who have come down on him in the last few months should be willing to give him chance, because I certainly don't think we're going to sell him and Bentley for a loss this summer.

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