Tom Huddlestone has expressed his frustration at the manner of his departure from Tottenham Hotspur, accusing André Villas-Boas of not giving him a fair opportunity to prove his worth. The midfielder joined Hull for £5m on Wednesday and, having signed a three-year contract with the Premier League newcomers, trained with his new team-mates on Thursday alongside Jake Livermore, who has also arrived from White Hart Lane on a season-long loan deal.
Huddlestone, who has been told by Steve Bruce that he will definitely be part of the Hull squad who face Chelsea on Sunday, is excited about the prospect of playing regularly for a top-flight team, having become an increasingly peripheral figure at Spurs. The 26-year-old spent eight seasons at Spurs after arriving from Derby County for £4m in July 2005 but numerous injuries resulted in the player struggling to establish himself in the first team. He worked his way back to full fitness last season following an ankle ligament operation and hoped to finally make an impact but featured only 28 times in all competitions, and often as a substitute.
"I'd play some games and the results were good and my personal performances were good but then I'd find myself out of the team for six or seven weeks without any explanation," he said. "That was frustrating and I'm not one of those players who goes and knocks on the manager's door every Monday morning if I'm not playing, I just get my head down, graft during the week and try to get back in to the team.
"I felt I deserved more of a run in the team and that is partly why I've come to Hull – to play regularly, enjoy myself and show what I can do."
He sees his departure as part of a wider shift in policy at Spurs, with Villas-Boas abandoning the emphasis on buying young, British players that had become commonplace under the likes of Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp in particular. As well as allowing Huddlestone and Livermore to depart this summer, the the manager has sold Steven Caulker to Cardiff City and released David Bentley. During his first season in charge, Villas-Boas also allowed Jermaine Jenas to join Queens Park Rangers and told the club captain Michael Dawson that he could also leave. In their place have come largely foreign signings, with Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado the most recent recruits.
"It's been strange," said Huddlestone."The first few years I was at Spurs the philosophy was to buy young, British talent such as myself, Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Michael Dawson and Jenas. Now Caulker has gone, they've let me go, Jake has left and it seems like it has gone the opposite way, with buying established international players. I'm not sure [that is good for the club]. They've let a few players go who are used to the Premier League week in, week out. Players coming in from abroad, as we've seen in the past, can take a while to settle."
The challenge now for Huddlestone is to help keep Hull in the Premier League and also add to his four England caps, with a potential World Cup next summer providing the player with added motivation to catch Roy Hodgson's eye.
"If I could manage to squeeze into the World Cup squad that would be massive achievement," he said. "But that will only come if I'm playing well for Hull, so that has to be my first objective."