It’s hard not to sympathise with Sandro at this point in time. Having arrived last August with a potential to match his abnormally large frame, the Brazilian began to show his credentials in the second half of last season. Having struggled to settle at first, and with a full season behind him from former club Internacional, Sandro looked well of the pace when the 2010/11 season kicked off.
But, from the start of the year he had made the centre-midfield spot alongside Luka Modric his own, the dogged determination and mature performances of the youngster proving the perfect foil for Modric, who could get forward and support the attack. Many were anticipating his start to the new campaign but, while away on international duty, disaster struck. Breaking down with a knee injury in training, Sandro was forced into surgery to correct the problem, a requirement that saw him miss the beginning of the season.
He was sorely missed as Spurs crashed to opening 3-0 and 5-1 defeats to Manchester United and City, respectively. With Tom Huddlestone still recovering from an ankle problem he suffered last year, Jake Livermore looking in-experienced and out of depth amongst the Premiership’s better midfields and Modric looking like he was set to leave the club, Harry Redknapp knew a midfielder with the leadership qualities of Ledley King and the ability to break-up play, similar to Sandro in the respect, long-standing target Scott Parker was mooted as the man to be bought in by deadline day.
And, despite the sceptics, the FWA Player of the Year moved from West Ham United to Spurs on the final day of the transfer window, which had been surprisingly quiet for the North London side. Nonetheless, Redknapp strengthened in key areas and the club are currently reaping the rewards for their dealings during the summer. Most significantly has been Parker’s effect on the first-team. Despite only being at White Hart Lane since September, the 31-year-old has already cemented his spot in the starting XI, forming a dynamic partnership with Modric in the midfield.
In the early season defeats to the Manchester sides, his influence was exactly what Spurs were lacking and had he been involved from the start, the score line could well have been less, or even defeats turned in draws or wins. Nonetheless, with Parker in the team, Spurs look a much tougher proposition compared to seasons past. And this is the problem the bestows Sandro. The Brazilian has came into the side at the beginning of the calendar year and put in some exceptional performances in both Europe and the Premiership.
But, missing the initial month of the season has set him back somewhat, not in ability, but rather in terms of his position in the team. With Parker now considered irreplaceable, the Brazilian will be forced to bide his time for another chance to force his way back into the starting XI. Cameo appearances, often replacing the England international due to blow-out, is where a majority of his on-field minutes have come from and some believe, until he regains full fitness at least, his pitch time will be restricted due to the performances of Parker.
Nonetheless, with the former West Ham captain now 31, Sandro could see the combative midfielder as the perfect role model to aid with his future development. His position in the time further boosts the incredible strength in depth available to Redknapp and when it comes to difficult away fixtures during the Christmas period, for example, the Spurs boss has the luxury of being able to select both players and shore up the midfield, should the need arise. Unfortunately for Sandro however, he is going to have to settle for a spot on the bench, until Parker suffers from injury or loss of form, but until then, the Brazilian will have to remember to thicken the layers as the days begin to get colder and wetter.