Lewis Holtby was initially scheduled to arrive at Tottenham Hotspur last summer, but the North London needed him so badly that his switch to White Hart Lane from Schalke was moved forward to January last year.
Rated as one of the best footballers in the Bundesliga, the Germany international was expected to be the missing player who would help lead Spurs to a top-four finish in the Premier League. However, Holtby looked off colour in the second half of last season, making just four starts in the league.
Holtby was one of the many players who failed to perform to their best in the first half of the 2013-14 campaign under Andre Villas-Boas and was sent out on loan to Fulham in January this year. The midfielder himself wanted to secure his place in the World Cup and felt that it would be a good idea for him to play week in week out for a team that was fighting against relegation.
However, that move did not pay off. Although the 23-year-old did look promising in the early stages of his Fulham stint, as the club went deeper and deeper into the relegation mire, he looked more and more out of place. His former Schalke coach Felix Magath was appointed the Fulham manager in February, and it was soon clear that he wanted his players to give all they had to survive relegation. It proved to be a failed cause as Fulham could not escape the drop, and now the German manager has criticised his players, singling out his compatriot.
‘Lewis is a very skilful and a nice player, but he is not a fighter - I think it was not the right move for him’, Sky Sports quotes him as saying.
‘The players told me they cannot fight, I don't know why’, he added. ‘They cannot fight, they haven't learned it’.
Holtby is a truly talented and skilful player, and indeed it did come as a surprise when he left a top-four chasing Tottenham for relegation-fighting Fulham. Although he made it clear that he was committed to the cause, there was always a suspicion that he was not the kind of player Fulham needed to force through the bottom three.
Should Holtby try to change his playing style and become more of a “fighter”? Or should he remain the way he is and polish his attacking skills?
Answers on a postcard, please.