I recently touched on this in my last article regarding Tottenham Hotspur, but felt it warranted greater depth, especially as it is regarding Ledley King. Let me get this out in the open now; I love Ledley King. I always have done. As Harry Redknapp expertly depicted, he is a real ‘Rolls Royce’ of a player and you would be hard pressed to find a greater descriptive term to associate with the centre back.
The ability to turn in performance after performance of the highest order, despite suffering a long-term knee problem and a distinct lack of training, is beyond imaginable. Before the season begun, Redknapp set him the quota of playing 20+ games if he is to be offered a new deal at the end of the current campaign.
Many felt an extension to his current contract was warranted after the initial outings for the club and any die hard Spurs fan would’ve been hard pressed to find a counter-argument to suggest why he doesn’t deserve it. I mean, this is Ledley King. The England international that rose through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur to lead the club to Carling Cup glory in 2008 and Champions League qualification in 2010 and all with one knee.
However, as much as it pains me to say it, the cracks are beginning to show. First and foremost, this isn’t an immediate dig at the King, not by a long-shot. I will reiterate again; I love the man to pieces and if I could give one, or both, of my knees, I would. But, after a series of shaky performances in the heart of the Spurs defence, a number of the Lilywhites faithful are wondering whether this is it for the defender, who has worn the number 26 shirt with pride.
A series of shaky performances at the back, most notably against Arsenal and Norwich City in the latter half of the season, has left a growing few contemplating life without The King (no, not you Kenny, you bat faced Scot). The confidence that he instilled throughout the side has diminished at an expediential rate at the sturdiness in the back four that he provided to the highest order has worn away quicker than the wood on a damp outdoor decking.
What next for Ledley then?
Hark ho; it isn’t time to get the mortician in yet. Not a chance for old Ledders and his 16 years of service. Personally, I would get him offered a new, pay-as-you-play deal, if only for the benefit of young Steven Caulker. The ready-to-return defender, currently on-loan with Swansea City (as most of you already know), has been in excellent form for the Swans this season and he is looking more and more like the long-standing replacement for King, and with two knee injuries in his short career to match, he fits the bill perfectly.
Back to Ledley, as I said, a pay-as-you-play deal for the stalwart would be ideal for next season, even if he doesn’t play as often as his knee allows him to, but the experience and knowledge he could pass on could be vital. Then, over the next 12-18 months or so, begin the process of shepherding him into a senior coaching role to aid in the development of young and upcoming defenders.
Naturally, a testimonial would be in order, but with King, we still have a player with a wealth of practice in the big games and the mental capacity to assist the youngsters, and to an extent, the current first team as well. Younes Kaboul and Michael Dawson are two player’s that have benefited from King in the past, with the former across this season especially, and the potential is there for more up and coming starlets to reap the rewards from the defender’s expert marshalling of the back four.
So yes Ledley, we all appreciate what you have done for Tottenham Hotspur. We still love you, don’t get that wrong, but, don’t you think it is time to rest that knee of yours? You won’t go down without a flourish, not a chance, and any help you provide to young Caulker will assist both the youngster as a player and Spurs in the long-run.