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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Younes Kaboul - the exception to the rule

They say in football, as in many other things, that you should never go back. Harry Redknapp is seemingly on a one-man mission to disprove that theory. On arriving at Tottenham, Redknapp re-signed several of Tottenham’s outcast players. Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch, Pascal Chimbonda and Younes Kaboul all were welcomed back to White Hart Lane
. Keane, Chimbonda and Kaboul had barely left the club when they came back. (The less said about Redknapp’s own flip-flopping around Portsmouth at the moment, the better – at least while the court case is on-going…)

Of those that returned, only Defoe and Kaboul remain – both brought in from Portsmouth, where Harry had signed them just a year before. He’s got his favourites, has Harry.
Younes’ first spell at Tottenham was not an unmitigated success. Plus points of power, aggression and a love for surging forward where outweighed by negatives of poor concentration, unpredictability and a love for surging forward at the wrong moments. Tottenham finished a disaapointing 11th in the league in Kaboul’s only season of his first spell at Spurs, with a goal difference of only +5. Sure, Kaboul scored 3 of those league goals, but he was surely at fault for many more of those conceded. He fell out of favour with boss Martin Jol, and also with doomed replacement Juande Ramos – although falling out of favour with Ramos must now be seen as a positive thing for any Spurs fan.
Helping Spurs lift the League Cup in 2008 wasn’t enough to secure his continuation at Tottenham, and he was sold to Portsmouth for £6 million – a £2 million loss for only 29 games. Redknapp was the Pompey boss that signed him, and obviously felt that his instincts were right about the powerful Frenchman, as he brought Kaboul in amongst several other signings from Pompey, as the south coast club went into financial meltdown – not for the last time.
Kaboul’s second spell at the North London giants has coincided with their rapid turnaround, from rock bottom of the Premier League under the ill-fated Ramos reign, to the current Redknapp revolution taking place, as Spurs look for Champions League qualification. IN some quarters they are even being talked about as league title contenders, they certainly play some of the best football in the country at the moment.
Kaboul is now a regular in the starting eleven, and has written himself into club folklore with some important goals for the team. He has seemingly ironed out the inconsistencies that plagued his debut on these shores, whilst retaining the swashbuckling nature that sees him charging gleefully up the pitch on occasion. Importantly, he has learnt to judge when to do that – important when you consider that Tottenham play with attacking full-backs Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker. Choosing the right moments has seen him score some important goals -  he scored with a fine, powerful header against North London rivals Arsenal to break a 17 year hoo-doo, and on Spurs 125th anniversary he scored the equaliser in a 4-4 draw with Aston Villa in his first period at the club.

He’s become such a solid presence at the back that he wears the captains armband in the absence of fellow centre-back Ledley King, who’s knees prevent him from starting every game. It used to be Kaboul who made way for King, now he’s almost ever present. Redknapp has partnered him with Dawson, King, Bassong and Gallas.
His performances have earned him 5 senior national team call-ups, and at the age of only 26 he is one of the players Redknapp will have to keep hold of if Spurs are to continue raising their own expectations.


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