COMMENT By Richard Parks
All is becoming clear now.
There was much disgruntlement from Tottenham fans on social media when Toby Alderweireld was snubbed by Mauricio Pochettino for the marquee fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus last month.
The Belgium international had publicly insisted he was fully fit after recovering from the hamstring tear that had sidelined him for three months.
Ask every Tottenham fan to name the best defender at the club and the majority would reply with the 28-year-old Belgian.
So, why wasn’t he in the starting XI, or at least the matchday squad when apparently in top condition?
Many interpreted the brilliant centre-back’s omission as partly down to his failure to agree a new contract with the club and the manager planning for a future without him.
An interview with the wonderfully straight-talking Danny Rose has now shed fresh light on Alderweireld’s snub.
Like his fellow defender, Rose has been working his way back from a serious long-term injury – in his case, a knee problem that initially ruled him out for nine months – and he has now admitted that he understands fully why he’s not being thrown straight back into the starting XI.
“I felt I’d started to hit good form before the Southampton setback, then I had to spend a month in the gym to get stronger again. It’s great to be back again of course, but I need to build up my match fitness,” Rose said in the Spurs programme for last Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Rochdale, as quoted by Football London.
“I’d say I’m probably match fit for any other team in the league, but still not quite where I need to be and where I’d like to be for this team. Being match fit isn’t good enough here, you have to be exceptionally fit for the way we like to play and I was close to that before my last setback.
“It’s probably going to take another couple of matches now to get me back to where I was.
“We’ve got so much more to play for this season and I want to make sure I’m part of it. There are really exciting times ahead.”
Rose shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart.
As his stunning new comments about being fit enough to play for 19 of the Premier League clubs demonstrate, he also gets the demands required of a Tottenham first teamer where the players must be in absolute peak condition to bust a gut every match if they want to play.
It is clear that Pochettino did not feel Alderweireld was able to do so, and his subsequent setback, which has ruled the Belgian out of the last three matches with a fresh hamstring problem, suggests the manager was spot on.
In other Tottenham transfer news, Alan Shearer has destroyed one Spurs player who he would sell as he explained why Liverpool have the edge of their big rivals.