LEO'S LONDON: Wilson Palacios giving Spurs a problem | Mail Online
Wilson Palacios came to Tottenham's rescue when they were in trouble two seasons ago and the club have been grateful ever since.
But the Honduran now has a lot to do if his demotion to the bench on Tuesday is not to be the beginning of the end for him at White Hart Lane.
Harry Redknapp's preamble to the club's big Champions League night at Werder Bremen was all about 'snatching a point' and not committing 'suicide'.
He even went for an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation, the type that is traditionally anchored by a defensive, holding midfielder.
Yet Spurs' established player in that position, the man they paid Wigan £12million for to fulfill that role, was among the substitutes.
Even when the breathtaking supremacy which had given them a two-goal lead waned and they conceded, Palacios was not called upon.
It seemed like the classic time to try to shore things up but Redknapp kept him on the bench.
Palacios eventually came on with 14 minutes left and even then he was shunted out to the right wing, where he could do little damage.
If the alarm bells are not ringing for him yet, he really should get his hearing checked. They have been sounding at the club for some time (they already have a replacement in the making in Sandro) because Palacios no longer looks up to the job he was bought for.
In a struggling team trying to fight their way clear of relegation, he was a revelation. Just what they needed.
But as Spurs have moved up the Premier League and raised their standards he has struggled to keep up.
Palacios is not the disciplined player who keeps the ball moving, who gets the team rolling from the back in the way Claude Makelele used to at Chelsea.
He is not the robust and dominating player in possession in the middle of the park like the Frenchman's successor, John Mikel Obi, is becoming. Yet neither is he a lung-busting, omnipresent midfielder such as Michael Essien.
The comparisons with Chelsea players are relevant because they, more than anyone in the Premier League, have made the holding role work.
At its best it is both destructive and constructive simultaneously, but Palacios' positional play, his touch, timing and pace are no longer good enough to demand a pivotal role in the higher echelons of English, never mind European, football.
Redknapp knew that Marko Marin would be Werder Bremen's danger player on Tuesday night and that he would operate in the territory of a defensive midfielder.
But he went instead for the more offensive and energetic midfield skills of Jermaine Jenas. The way Palacios has been playing, he had little other choice.
I know the guy has been through a lot, with his brother being murdered and all. His form as well all have stated has dipped, perhaps he looked so good coming in when we were struggling and now the squad has progressed that it has overpassed his ability? Just a thought