Whisper it, but Tottenham aren't as fun as they used to be since Harry Redknapp left.
That's not to say the two are necessarily linked, of course. Redknapp is an individual who attracts a considerable amount of both derision and praise, (on both accounts largely undeserved) but it would be wrong to suggest that his Tottenham side were anything other than highly watchable. Like Ian Holloway's Blackpool, they were a side who, faced with a choice of 3pm kickoffs to watch, always seemed the most likely to produce a spectacle. You can tell from the patronising way their Champions League campaign is remembered by the English press: They "had a go." A bash. An attempt. Never mind that it would've ended in utter humiliation if not for Gareth Bale having the game of his life - Britain doesn't want to hear about that!
In contrast to his replacement, Redknapp achieved a cavalier style by allowing his players a remarkable degree of freedom, taking a laissez-faire approach to tactical instruction and letting players get on with it. Redknapp also had Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, however - the loss of whom have left Spurs unable to rely simply on good players in their favoured positions doing what they do best. There are suspicions that André Villas-Boas has a touch of the Rafas about him - an over-fussiness, a refusal to simply let his team play - but until he has a team worthy of being left alone, we'll never know.
Without their ability to scheme an create in midfield, any team that has set out to contain and resist against them has generally succeeded. Spurs were hugely fortunate to earn a victory against Manchester United in which they spent the last half-hour barely being able to get out of their own penalty area, but it's still difficult to imagine such a victory in the Redknapp years. That is progress, but the step forward has come at the expense of two backwards, the points gained against United thrown away against Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City.
Even so, little of this weakness can be blamed on André Villas-Boas. Spurs thought they had Joao Moutinho, who would probably have solved the problem. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey, two other signings who should also offer a solution, have been in poor form since the start of the season. Their goals have mostly come from wing play, counter-attacks, and generally exploiting the space left by the opposition through pace and precision in open games. When the opposition don't want to attack, however, there's a clear problem.
Lewis Holtby represents the perfect chance to correct it. A technically-gifted, two-footed midfield schemer with rare vision, he provides exactly what Tottenham require right now. A replacement for Luka Modric and the perfect player to help Spurs find a way through defences that have little interest in doing anything other than their job description. If the papers are to be believed, they can get him in January, six months before his agreed signing date, for a fee generally reported to be between two and three million pounds.
Given Daniel Levy's method of operation, with which we are now familiar - we await the re-opening of the Tottenham Hotspur Transfer Window at 10:45 p.m., January 31st - then it's probable Spurs are simply biding their time, but to pass up the opportunity would be certifiable. Holtby is not a player that is going to radically transform Spurs' style of play overnight, or necessitate dropping a highly-performing star. There is no Golden Goose for him to slay, and the qualities he will bring to Spurs - breaking down teams that have set out to defend - mean that he is as close as Tottenham will get to being able to buy points. If they don't take up the opportunity, and miss out on Champions League qualification, the 0-0 draws against weaker sides will be, as is traditional, the first place they will cast their lamenting gaze. Lewis Holtby will be the second.