Wheeling and Dealing

There is much to admire in Daniel Levy’s stewardship of Tottenham Hotspur over the past few years. His ambition for the club is clear for all to see. He has backed his managers with funding to buy players; he has delivered what is by all accounts one of the best training facilities in the country; Work is already underway to build a magnificent new stadium at a cost of £400 million. Furthermore, all this has taken place without ever putting the underlying financial stability of the club at risk.

And yet I still have this nagging doubt that there is an inherent flaw in his character which has held us back from becoming one of the major forces in European football. That doubt is centered upon Levy’s lust for a deal. During the transfer windows Levy appears to forget about the main objective which is to build a squad capable of at least finishing in the top four every season thereby securing the vast riches that flow from Champions League qualification. Instead, his focus seems to be solely on the deal itself, getting the extra pound here for a player being sold, saving an extra pound there on a player being brought in.

As I made clear earlier, I do not have a problem with Levy’s prudence. Nor do I have a problem with him being a tough negotiator. Overall I do think he is doing a great job and the last thing I want to see is for Spurs to go the way of Portsmouth or Rangers or Leeds. However, reading the comments of Olympique Lyon’s president reinforces my feeling that in the end it is the negotiations that become the main event, and not the transfer itself.

That is why I believe, so many of Spurs’ deals are left to deadline day. Last season we missed out on Champions League qualification by one point. Forget how the fates conspired against us to deny us our place; if Parker and Adebayor had been signed before the season started we might not have lost our opening two matches. This season we have taken one point out of six from our first two matches, both of which we should have won. In the week since the last match we have signed three players. Is history going to repeat itself?

I hope not. To be sure, all our new signings seem to be quality players. But what about the ones that got away? Had serious talks about Mouthino started days ago, with the benefit of a few extra days would we have resolved the problems that prevented the transfer taking place? He was the one AVB wanted above all. Was “the deal” more important to Daniel Levy than supporting his manager? These are the questions that for me, refuse to go away.

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