Will Spurs boss’ gamble on Ledley King be the final straw for Bassong?
THERE were more than a few eyebrows raised around Anfield when Ledley King was named in the starting line-up on Sunday, and Sebastien Bassong must have been as surprised as anyone.
King had been out of action for seven months, while Bassong has been biding his time on the bench, waiting for his chance to replace Michael Dawson or William Gallas.
When that opportunity finally came along against Liverpool, it was taken away from him just as quickly – and Harry Redknapp’s post-match comments will not have improved the Cameroon international’s mood.
“William wasn’t fit so I took a chance with Ledley and threw him in really,” said the manager. “He wasn’t sure he would get through a game, he was a bit nervous of breaking down again, but we took a chance and he’s come up trumps as usual.”
The fact that Redknapp chose a half-fit, ‘nervous’ King over Basssong is yet another blow to the former Newcastle defender, whose Spurs career has nose-dived in 2011.
Last season the 24-year-old made 41 appearances in his first campaign in north London, helping Tottenham to a historic top-four finish before representing Cameroon at the World Cup.
In 2010/11, he has played just 20 times in Spurs’ 52 games, and has only started 14 matches.
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Most of those came during Michael Dawson’s lay-off in the first half of the season. And, since the England international returned in December, Bassong has only started five times – two of them coming in the FA Cup.
He is sure to be disappointed by his treatment but, then again, Redknapp could point to a far from impressive resum� this season.
In the 14 games that Bassong has started, Spurs have conceded 26 goals. Indeed, Tottenham have shipped three goals or more on 10 occasions – and Bassong has started six of them.
His appearances in the starting line-up include the 3-2 defeat at Young Boys (although he did score that night), the 4-1 Carling Cup defeat to Arsenal, the 4-3 loss to Inter Milan, the 3-3 draw with FC Twente and the 4-0 humiliation against Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round at Craven Cottage.
The low point came soon after, when Bassong was named in the starting XI for the 3-1 defeat at Blackpool in February, conceding a stupid first-half penalty that gifted the Tangerines their opener, before being substituted in the second half. He has made just three appearances in 13 matches since then.
With Gallas recently signing a new two-year contract and Younes Kaboul also targeting a spot in central defence next season, the fact that King has now jumped towards the top of the pecking order again may be the final straw.
Redknapp briefly backed the defender last Friday, saying: “Sebastien Bassong’s been unlucky. Whenever he plays he doesn’t let us down.”
However, as the centre-back considers his position this week, and in the summer, he will be ruefully aware that actions speak louder than words.