Last week in my article ‘Fading Direction’, I addressed the direction in which the club was travelling and the growing annoyance at our lack of progress since our one and only Champion League season to date. Since then, ploughing through the Spurs-Web Forum I came across a number of posts questioning the ownership, the way the club is being run, and in some cases demanding ENIC and Levy to sell the club. But are the frustrations a number of Spurs fans feel justified? Have indeed we come to the end of the road with ENIC and in particular Daniel Levy?
Levy took over a club which, by all estimations had underachieved for the decade previous; with the exception of two cup wins, the clubs average league position was mediocre. Since the takeover Spurs have been propelled from ‘mid-table mediocrity’ into a consistent Top 5 team. Despite a few seasons of meandering in the early years, under Levy’s guidance the club has moved to a new level. However, it is this that frustrates fans the most; we have a strong foundation from which we should go on and achieve greater things, yet the club has not seen the fruits of its labour; with only the solitary Carling Cup win and one season in the Champions League coming since ENIC’s takeover. To put it simply, the Europa League is not enough anymore, the Uefa Cup as it was then, satisfied us for a couple of seasons but that’s all it ever was supposed to be. The fans want Champions League and the odd cup success, and despite arguably achieving at ‘our-level’ now, see so much more potential within the club that Levy simple is harnessing. Levy’s greatest problem is making the potential inside this club flourish, and from a business point of view, he is doing this; financially the club are comfortable, with a state of the art training ground now in operation and stadium plan in its final stages. Everything at Tottenham Hotspur is geared towards success both now and in the future.
However, from a footballing point of view Levy has problems. His inability to appoint the right manager for the job is of upmost importance. Juande Ramos and Andre Villas-Boas have come and gone, both at times when from a footballing sense, Spurs were on the sturdiest of foundations. Ramos came following Jol’s tenure, with a young squad and growing assets; all the ingredients were there, and there were glances (Carling Cup success of 2008); yet under him the club took a step back; 2 points from 8 games, oh dear enough said. Likewise AVB came following a second successive 5th place finish, and just a year and a half on from our Champions League quarter-final appearance. However, ‘the project’ didn’t work out and whether Levy should have pursued with Villas-Boas is up for debate; but by firing him Levy and the club set themselves back 18 months, and languished themselves with the apparent last choice of successor; Tim Sherwood. All things point to another managerial change in the summer.
Furthermore, Levy’s transfer dealings in the past 5 years, have, with the exception of a few players, been poor. The club has generated much incomings through the transfers of Bale, Modric and Berbatov; none of which Levy realistically could have done much to stop in the long term, but the funds generated have not been spent wisely at all. This only adds to the frustration of the fans; selling our best players is bad enough, but either not re-investing or re-investing them poorly really hacks people off. Many at this point would point out the role of Baldini this summer. Granted, but Levy still has to sanction the deals and at the end of the day he employed Baldini upon the request of AVB, spot the pattern here? In particular this seasons transfer dealings have been derisory; coming off our record PL points tally, arguably only Paulinho and Chiriches have been worthwhile purchases of the 7 Levy sanctioned, wasting near £100million.
Despite all this, are we really better off without ENIC and Levy? The prospect of foreign ownership is one that excites and frightens equally, depending on the luck of the draw it seems. So why risk the foundation that Tottenham have in place to unlock potential within when alternatively things could be altered slightly in order to conquer. We have all the tools at our disposal.
The point of this is that yes, Levy and ENIC have had their faults but they have overseen the rise of the club in the last decade plus; the issue is that this rise has got to a certain point and flat-lined; as a highlighted in my previous article. Spurs are stuck in the verge between a nearly-club and a top club. Everything is set up at Tottenham for immediate success, and has been for 8 years now, and yet little has materialised. The Carling Cup and CL seasons only offered greater hope and raised fan expectations of Tottenham and of Levy. A takeover is risky and destabilising but it isn’t only the team that need to develop the ‘killer’s instinct’ of a ‘winning mentality’, but Levy too from a footballing sense which, when combined with the quality with which the club, as a business is run, could be a catalyst to success. Levy now has to make the correct decision regarding a manager in the summer, and then also right the wrongs of previous transfer windows, signing astutely and with focus to propel us forward still.
Indeed, the focus and mentality of the fans has switched; Tottenham and Levy can no longer afford bad decisions, slow progress and to build assets but instead the time has come to utilise those assets, make the big, bold and correct decisions that will bear the fruits of immediate success on the pitch and not just in the boardroom. However, in order for this to happen the focus and mentality of Levy and board must now identically transform, or else risk the wrath of the fans and, with a few notable exceptions, more years just like the last few; meandering, frustratingly into the footballing abyss.
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