Time for Change? Levy & ENIC

30
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

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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30 COMMENTS

  1. Spurs were advised at the time when Enic were taking control and ownership to stay clear that Enic would be a bad owner , they had investments in Rangers and we all know what happened to Rangers i am not for one minute suggesting that Enic we the culprits but its dam funny they were invested in the Glasgow club .

    • They were minor shareholders! David Murrey was solely responsible for all the fraud at that club, they should have every title removed from them.

  2. For me I'd rather Levy came out and said the Bale money is going towards the stadium.
    No pissing about, that stadium is key to us moving forward. Without the extra revenue we are stuck in a vicious circle of having nearly a great team until a Madrid PSG or Utd tempt our best players away.
    All the talk of selling our best players is bullshit!
    Berbatov went on strike Luka came out two summers running and demanded to leave, Bale done the same. We had little choice.

    What we have to do, must do is use the players we have to generate a more balanced squad.
    Sig will generate £8/10 m if we could sign Konypletcheno (spelling) from Dnipri or a player in that vein it would be a huge boost on the left side of the the team, he holds the ball well is intelligent and has PACE!

    We need a ball playing midfielder someone who can hold the ball but release it much quicker than our midfield do at present.

    A striker to help what we have, for me I'd took a punt on Shane long at £6m just to see us to the end of the season, he wasn't cup tied in Europe either, but we need a grafting speedy striker.

    Centre half worries me, with Kaboul out of contract and Barcelona looking at Verts we are bang in trouble in defence.

    That's the minimum we need and we have to act quickly because Rodgers will at the bin dippers Utd will act fast to, do the business before the World Cup.

    As for Levy he ain't selling until the stadium is finished, better the Devil you know……

    • No he wouldn't because he has the major votes! By diluting the shares and buying them Enic were the majority shareholders, who's going to sack him from Enic? Joe lewis wouldn't.

      His business model nearly works, his football model falls short. But with a restriction on players wages….. What do we expect.

    • Graham, wakey, wakey!! Spurs were, until very recently, a PLC listed on the London Stock Exchange. Levy was CEO at the time. ENIC own the majority of Spurs shares. They took Spurs private. Their are still a small number of shares held by some shareholders who did not accept the ENIC offer at the time they took Spurs private.

      ENIC is circa 70% owned by Lewis and 30% by Levy. They will only sell Spurs when they think the time is right and they get an offer they can't refuse. All speculation by Spurs fans about ENIC and Levy is a complete waste of time, IMO.

  3. It is wrong to say that we have flatlined since the CL quarter finals. We finished fourth the season after…only Chelsea winning the CL deprived us from another CL adventure. The season after that with a new manager we got our record points total… to ask for more than that is being unrealistic and unfair. How can you do better than your best ever…? There were 4 teams with even more points than we had… These teams have far more vast revenue streams than us. Liverpool fell off for a time, and now are back, so it will be even harder from now on as they also have a better revenue stream than us (albeit reporting losses). Changing the owners would make us step back even further…. Besides which owners would you prefer? Carson 'money laundering' Yeung? Vincent 'Change shirts to red & sack good manager' Tan? Assem 'Change name to Tottenham Cockerels' Allam? Vladimir 'Sack Hearts manager Burley after winning first 8 games' Romanov? Doug 'bring villa down' Ellis? Hicks and Gillett? Ken Bates? There are far worse owners out there. At least ours have progressed us from expecting 12th in league (losing ground from the big boys) and having Gary Doherty to expecting top 4-5 and the likes of Vertonghen, Lloris, Eriksen…. plus the stadium on the horizon will help our revenue streams approach those of the big boys. We need to stick with Enic until at least the stadium comes in. If there is a change then, then the new guys would have a better chance of maintaining the momentum.

    • Tony the point of this is that we have been competing and so is it unrealistic to ask for more just the little more that was needed? (1point more last 2 seasons) With just a little more investment over the last 5yrs we could have achieved more. Instead of settling for being 'nearly-men'. However, i agree that the club is in an all-round greater position and a new stadium would in the long term put us in a greater one. I dont see nor want ENIC or Levy out for the time being as my article concludes, i just feel a little more football focus and strategy has been needed. Neverthless, they've done a good job.

  4. Enic also invested in several other clubs around Europe and they did not go into finacial melt down so really that argument does work. The anti enic/levy lobby should try to remember where spurs were before enic arived and how far they have bought the club as a whole . The best training facility in the world a new stadium on the way and finacial stability. And we reguarlly challenge the so called big boys without the oilman budget. So get a grip and stop your whining. Every team above us is looking over there shoulder knowing we are not far off so either back the club or fuck off down the road .

    • Agree,our problem is we are in a Catch 22 situation.We are not quite big enough to go forward ,financely,at a great pace,income just wont allow it .But we cant increase the income without expansion,expansion costs money etc…….

  5. For me I'd rather Levy came out and said the Bale money is going towards the stadium.let me ask you this, if we hadn't messed around and signed David villa and Mounthino I seriously doubt we would be moaning.
    Levy took a punt on spending the Bale money and clearing the decks of players who wanted first team football.

    Everything regarding us Spurs fans comes down to how the team are doing, 6 more points and we wouldn't be moaning, were short of a few players that's all, a pattern of play so to speak, but without the extra players we can't have a pattern of play, we have a very unbalanced squad.

  6. "financially the club are comfortable" This is nonsense. The club, though managed well since 2001, is on a financial knife-edge, with expenditure imminent amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds on the new stadium, which has to be funded sensibly.
    "The fans want Champions League and the odd cup success". Name me fans of other clubs who don't.
    "Everything is set up at Tottenham for immediate success, and has been for 8 years now" This is nonsense. The club is on a progressive path to greater success, but can't currently compete with City, United, Arsenal or Chelsea, because those clubs are currently far bigger world-wide operations, with substantial larger turnovers. Nor will it unless it achieves its aim of a higher capacity stadium leaving no debt to be funded. Even this may not be enough. Newcastle United have a fully funded stadium with a 52,000 capacity, which is regularly packed, and this has not been enough to propel that club to "Champions League and the odd cup success", has it?

    • John, Nevertheless the club are financially stable until you bring the stadium situation into account & that's opening up a whole new kettle of fish! Is it really the answer to all our problems or just the cause of more…
      Granted we are on a path to success but as my article reads, this path has flat lined, and the continuation of this relies on the dodgy stadium. Also the fact is we have been competing with those teams and with money left over in the previous seasons before falling away in the latter stages due to lack of investment when we had the finances to invest!
      In our position it is not unrealistic to demand CL (2 of last 4 seasons we've finished top 4) and the odd cup success but too build on that yes more greater income is needed.

  7. The rating of Levy should be divided into two categories: 1) transfers and commercial opportunities, and 2) managers. It is very difficult to argue that when it has come transfers, partnerships, new training ground etc. that he has done an excellent job. The profit made on players that had already made their mind up to leave, the signing of some excellent players who normally would only consider top 4 or big bucks – Paulinho, Verts, Modric etc. We have a world class training ground that the England team are using as we speak. These are all important things that shouldn’t be forgotten and we should thank Levy for it. For this I would give him A-. His appointments of managers, however, has been nothing short of terrible. Ramos was a disaster. The sacking of Jol was an embarrasment when it was announced at half time and the whole ground knew. Sherwood’s 18 month contract is not worth the paper it was printed on and everyone knows he will go in the summer. For this I would give him a D.

    All said, however, when you are mid table club (which we were a few years ago), new owners could go either way and more often than not it ends in disaster. I for one am appreciative that we have progressed and find ourselves in a position that without the mega bucks oligarch/arab owners or stadium are competing for top four. And frankly so should you all be as well.

  8. have to say i agree with those supporting levy and enic and the improvements made to date. jury is out on tim but don't think he is the right man for the job. we have played woefully all season with a few patches of potential shown here and there under both avb and sherwood. remarkably we are on course for an even higher points total than last year if we match results from last season against our remaining opponents. i agree thats prob unlikely but one livs in hope, i think all the new signings have shown the potential and quality but not enough of it as team has failed to find a consistency. i think van gaal could be the answer but meantime i am praying we somehow match last years results in which case we will neck and neck once more with arsenal, who incidentally, are one point behind last years tally over the corresponding fixtures.

  9. I always say that if you look at the big picture we have improved hugely, I mean first if chelski had not got bought by a mega rich guy who unfairly spends his own money on players and wages how many times would spurs made the C.L. I have done the math and it would have been every year we finished 5th and the time we were 4th and did not make it. and add to that we have got man city to deal with as well. both these clubs were know more than yoyo clubs before the rich guys bought them as toys. so for the real big clubs in England man u, Liverpool, everton, Newcastle. and spurs clubs who are trying to do it the right way its going to be a struggle.

  10. plain and simple, we have gone as far as we can with the revenues the club generates. The part of the article that says we have so much more potential can only be realised with the higher revenue a new stadium brings.
    Without that we can keep banging our heads against our glass ceiling but facts are facts and today football is all about how much money you have. We are 6th in the country in revenues and we shall always remian a top 6 club until that can be increased. NEW STADIUM PLEASE !!!

  11. This fixation with the new stadium is going to come back and bite a few fans IMO. At best it will bring in £1m a match more than we get now so on a big season maybe £30m extra. Simple maths must tell you that this will take at
    Least 15 years to pay off. With tv rights as they are a bigger stadium although clearly better than a smaller one will not be the answer to successes on its own.
    There is a glass ceiling above 5th place that is proving to be a massive drawback to any team trying to get on and Liverpool have just proved the point, EUROPA LEAGUE FOOTBALL. Has all the drawbacks of the champions league and non of the benefits. Without it we would almost certainly be in a better position in the league and looking to finish in the top four. If money is the answer then sell the naming rights to WHL keep the existing stadium beef up the squad and get into the CL. That will raise the clubs income far greater than a new stadium and who knows May even leave us a bit over to build the stadium anyway? .

  12. Very good topic. It’s clear enough for all and sundry to see that whilst Enic and Levy have stabilised us in the back office, you can clearly see a pattern of their desire to put profit first. If they could buy a Dyson for €100, sell it for €200 and replace it with a Hoover for €100 because it still vacuumes, they have a profit. This analergy is pretty much the foundations of Levy’s mindset. If that is the way he thinks, then the development and success of the team becomes secondary. The stadium means more tickets sold, the training centre means making substantial profits on young talent coming from it. Long term I envisage a repetition of said same. It will not change. I’m not an economist but I see a clear pattern that doesn’t bode well. I would call on all Spurs fans to watch events unfold over the next season. If it delivers more of the same, we need to stand together and demand a change. It’s our club no matter who is representing it.

  13. The major part of Levy's restructuring, far from fading, is only just beginning to come to fruition – and that is complete re-organisation and refocusing of the youth set-up (which for these purposes is everything from under 21 down).

    The club has actually qualified for CL twice in the previous four years, hardly Levy's fault Chelsea got the most improbable (not to mention suspicious) CL win ever – and we not only lost out on actual participation, but also on the financial side usually associated with finishing 4th – and something I still believe we should have challenged UEFA over. Last season we finished 5th, but only just, and accrued a record number of points for ourselves, but also a record number of points for a 5th place finishing team.

    You say our transfer dealings have been poor – I completely and utterly disagree with you. The fact that seven of our players are still bedding in does not, to me, disguise the fact that we have a much better SQUAD than Modric was at his best, Bale was just starting to show his ability and VdV was beginning his decline (don't kid yourself on that, still a great player though). On top of everything else Kaboul looks like Following Ledley in the perma-crock stakes – that is not one but two top level central defenders we have been cruelly deprived of (still hoping for a miracle recovery from Kabuol). Just because the players who have most spectacularly failed to live up to billing so far are the flair players does not mean they won't – for the most part they are only coming on to their 22 year – compare Modric at 22 (not even at club, and initially the majority of Spurs fans thought him a waste of money), or Bale (labelled as a Jonah, and I know for a fact some Spurs fans were eager to get him off our hands in the seemingly invented Forest loan/sale story).

    Open your eyes, FFS, we have a better squad, a better youth set-up, better youth personnel, better training facilities, better financial health and global exposure and better finishing league positions. The groundwork has been done on a new stadium, to boot.

    • Indeed and the all-round improvement of the club cannot be disputed, as i recognise.
      I agree on the point our squad is better now, it is, however this has not led to further CL outings or cup success; thus posing the question have we invested in quantity rather than quality? Especially since we lost a lot of quality in the players you listed. Additionally, i agree on giving the signings time; but this is my point: we no longer should be building assets, we should be in a 'win-now' position of buying and when you pay out hefty fees as we have this should be expected.

      • Only on playstation do players hit the ground running-if you take Man City for example and this season Liverpool, it's taken them an awful lot of money and even more than a single season to get anywhere near the upper echelons of the PL, Bearing in mind we've finished higher than both in recent times and are now considerably better off than last seasons champions? We're a bit Morecambe and Wise as we're doing all the right things but seemingly in the wrong order and at a time when fate or circumstance have conspired to thwart us, it's not always a single persons fault, after all could you see the takeover and elevation of City? or Chelsea's mediorcre side winning the CL but many expect Levy to have?

      • As explained, yes we did qualify for CL more than once – not our fault Chelsea, blah blah blah. And you don't know what the final outcome of this season will be – so, IMHO, you should be waiting until you do know before writing articles like this.

        I've answered your question 'quality or quantity': Firstly, there is a dewy-eyed nostalgia for things that never really were. Yes, Modric, VdV and Bale all in the same team (though at different stages of development) was a site to behold. but not in every game. For every 'Taxi for Maicon' there were three games at WHL featuring bottom-half clubs who understood that we were lethal on the counter-attack, and so would pack the box, turn the tables and hit us on the break, resulting in quite a few stultifying games, worse than anything AVB served up, and a defeat or draw. Our strike force was Defoe and Crouch, was that really better than Adebayor and Soldado? Was Gomes, who I loved dearly, really better than Lloris? On this last point, I am afraid you there is a tendency to equate the creative players with 'all the team'. It isn't so. Previously we had Modric and Palacios and then what? After that Sando and Modric…and then what? Now our central midfield options consist of Sandro (he has been injured, y'know, it has affected our season y'know), Dembélé (whose form was so good before this clusterfahook of a season that there were rumours if United bidding for him), Brazil international Paulinho (who even now if being linked with RM and Chelsea in the meeja), and Capoue (earmarked as a future France captain). On top of which we have Bentaleb breaking through, many believe the centre is Holtby's best position and Ericksen can play in there. Indeed, ultimately, maybe you should have just asked it Lamela/Ericksen is better than Bale/Modric – and you would still have got the same reply: first, wait and see, and second, it is a squad game, our squad is much better.

        Why should we be in a 'win-now' position? How do you quantify that? The changes in the youth set-up, really are only starting to come to fruition. They were begun under Arnesen, and if you calculate that the age range where the methods he introduced would be most effective with, I would suggest 13 – 15. So, basically, the first fruits of his influence they would be in there early twenties now – and what we see is players breaking into the squad, team, England team, and/or being sold for £8 million (Caulker) or prospectively £5 million plus (Livermore). This is how progress is 'really' made, not by making lazy demands. And the youth we have coming through now are much more promising – you should check this out. We had Arnesen poached from us by jealous mega-bucks Chelsea, after Levy had made him the corner-stone of his strategic vision, and when he had only just begun implementing his philosophy. We were trying to break up a Big 4 of Manchester United (76,000 stadium, massive global revenues, bet team in country), Chelsea (dodgy oil-mafioso owner, nuff said), Arse*al (brilliant manager, great youth set-up, working on 65,000 stadium), and Liverpool (global brand, recent CL winners, history of success, higher revenues), and just when we are making headway you can throw Citeh being gifted with 'the richest club in the World' money. All of these clubs, even now, have greater revenues than us – so I will ask again, why do you believe we 'should be in a win-now position of buying and paying out hefty fees'? We would be able to pay the sixth highest transfer fees and the sixth highest wages – why do you think that going for that would help us to break into the top 4?

        On top of which, don't be romantic…Modric wanted to leave, Bale wanted to leave, even United were bullied into selling Ronaldo once Real Madrid decided they really, really wanted him and he decided he really, really wanted to go. We paid hefty fees literally for Soldado because that he is an at-his-peak striker, elite, second divsion IMHO. Not quite a Ibrahimovic level and so not quite that quality of club and that level of fee, but pretty much what Spurs fans have been 'demanding' Levy do for several seasons. News-flash, no strikers that level wanted to join us, and sometimes it just plain don't work out. It would have been nice if Soldado had hit the ground running – but he was poorly used, and, well, as said, sometimes it just don't work out, and sometimes even elite players at their peak take time to work out. I think you have misunderstood the fee paid for Lamela – he hasn't been bought for £30 million because he is at his peak, but because that is seen as a fee commensurate with his potential, which if fulfilled would put him up in the Bale/Neymar/Messi/Ronaldo bracket, just like we paid £16.5 million in a deflated market for Modric because serious observers believed he would develop into £30 million plus player…and he did. Ericksen and Lamela are two of the most highly rated young players in European football and are both just turned 22 YO. Don't compare them to Modric at 27 and Bale of last year, it's futile.

        So I would ask again, why do you have a totally different conception to the one I have as to where I believe we are?

        • I do not believe we are that far apart; on the transfer front, yes we have signed reportedly good players and granted it will take time for some to come to fruition; personally i think Eriksen and Lamela will certainly be worth the money. But this is the point, if you buy someone for £30mil like Lamela surely you are entitled to expect some kind of contribution right away. Yes he was poorly managed earlier in the season and has then got injured but the fact that he was seemingly bought and AVB evidently didnt fancy him at all is madness! What cant be denied is the strength of our squad has greatly improved but do we have the 'gamechangers' or 'match winners' we had back then? The simple answer is no; in Bale, VDV & Modric we had players whom, no matter how sporadic (which they often were, especially Bale) did still alter games. But id still rather have them in the side than not.
          Secondly, your point about the youth system is valid however within this itself seems somewhat a romantic, idealistic viewpoint. It would be lovely to be able to produce a team of world class players like Barcelona, but that simply isn't going to happen within the next 15years, if at all. Specifically, we need better coaching and coaching methods; and thats not just Tottenham but the English game as a whole.
          The revenue is no doubt an issue and it will be harder to compete without increased streams of income. However, we have been competing with these teams in the last 3/4+ years yet just falling away at the end; a little more astute investment into a top top player when he becomes available; for example Joao Moutinho 2 summers back, may have propelled us. Yes revenue is a hindrance but i dont think it should be an excuse, we have had the money in place to invest and take us to the next level, and give us the extra 1, 2, 3 points a season, which would have cemented our place in the CL but we havent used it.
          To answer your question simply, yes we are still a club progressing but there is no reason why, in the last 2years, we have not invested that little extra, when funds have been available to gain us that 1 extra point to put us in the CL. Instead Levy has tried a complete overhaul of the squad this year to make up for not adding little by little over the past years. Our squad is indeed younger, SHOULD improve and has more depth but when signing players, yes we cannot compete in the A* player bracket yet, but those of the A standard, should be targeted; instead of those of B level with potential for A*. This comes back to footballing decision instead of business decisions as in my article. There is no reason for us not qualifying for the CL; make no mistake we're not going to win it or the league but i believe to grow to the next level you have to take it stage by stage and having regular CL is a part of this, as a result the club as a whole grows and then you can move onto the next level and a stadium would be an essential part of this. As is is currently, yes things are weighed in our opponents favour but we have a foundation to be reach targets now. Maybe the 'win-now' wording was wrong; qualify for the CL accompanied by the odd domestic cup win is realistic, and once this is achieved then we can build again upon that. Yes the youth system plan, and the buy young plan look nice and hopefully will these kids will grow with the club but we've been 'nearly-men' for years, when simply we should have been regularly in the CL. Dont let the hindrances become the excuses.

          • Part 1: As I said, Lamela is at a similar stage, younger even, than Modric – his fee was double the Croatian's because he is rated as the type of player who could be winning the Ballon D'Or in the future and going for Bale/Ronaldo/Messi type fees. No matter how fantastic Modric is, he isn't that type of player – £16.5 million is, therefore, comparable to the fee paid for Lamela.

            I have also said, already, no, I don't expect overseas players to come to England and automatically make an impact. That is the vital point I am making. I believe in allowing overseas players, young players, and, therefore most particularly, young overseas players, a year to settle. The fact that we signed seven new players doesn't mean we give them 1 year divided by seven, it means we give them a year each. Soldado is the only player over 25 YO at time of purchase, and, indeed, now, and so the only one I would make a partial exception on. But even then, he was played under AVB in a system that wasn't maximising his skill-set at all, his form suffered, he had difficulties in his private life, and then managerial disruption and benching. Strikers and 'Keepers – the two positions that cannot hide, eh! Being played as a lone striker only emphaised his lack of form. Obviously, so all I'm saying is, in this instance, I am prepared to cut him a bit of slack as I believe his confidence and general happiness were knocked very early on.

            As for your point about having match winners – we'll. er, Adebayor :) The fact that AVB wasn't playing him doesn't mean he doesn't have that quality, as shown since coming back to the team. And, again, as said, we don;t know that we 'don't' have them in Eriksen and Lamela. Indeed, I would say that Eriksen has gone a long way to showing that he is/will be a match-winner when played. I also suspect that once settled, and used properly, Paulinho will be, too. And I have always said that Dembélé should be, too, he used to play as a striker and just seems strangely reluctant to advance and go for goal. In any case, I believe that a period of bad form, settling in and managerial instability is drawing a false inference on this. Of course I would rather have the squad we have now with Bale, Modric and VdV in the team, obviously :) But they wanted to go, we got good wonga for them and we have used the money to improve the squad – don't really see what more can be expected.

          • Part 2: There is absolutely zero romantic or idealistic about my view of the youth set-up. There is a lot of paying close attention to it, and to developments within it – things maybe you aren't aware of, which is why I suggested you have a good look at it.

            I am not just naming a player or two in the youth set-up that I think is quite good, I have been following the total change in focus that Daniel Levy has made with the youth and how he has made it a central part of his strategic vision, and I am genuinely excited by the young players we have and the chances of producing a steady stream of youth players capable of stepping up into the 1st team squad. And we are not talking about winning one youth FA cup (in the old youth league), we are talking about several age groups impressing over a few seasons in several competitions (including the under 21s version of the CL). Someone like Daniel Levy doesn't invest the amount of time, effort and money into restructuring the youth set-up and making it pivotal to his strategic vision unless he genuinely expects serious dividends from it – if he didn't he would have shut it up and saved on the bills. You need to get with what is going on at youth level, M8, pay more attention to the U21's thread – it is not the old youth set-up and having thrown up a couple of half-decent looking players again, who never fulfill their potential – we are talking about a total culture shift and a youth set-up that Liam Brady said was the best in England, when quitting his corresponding role at ArseScum.

            The complaint about 'a little investment' is a familiar one. It is only after four years of finishing 4 5 4 5 that we could persuade Soldado to join. How much more difficult was it previously. And Soldado, according to you, has flopped – how does anyone know that this 'little extra' a few years ago would have been an outstanding success? They don't! And that is the whole point – it is all based on assumptions, lack of knowledge and hindsight. Oh, and the last time I looked, we through things away in Redknapp's last season not because of a failure to invest but because our manager had a heart by-pass, a court case, flirted with Chelsea and then lost the dressing room because he took his eye off the ball thinking he had the England job in the bag.

            The simple answer is that to even get remotely close to CL is down to Levy's astute chairmanship, we would have done even better (regular top 4, higher revenues, better players on higher wages, few trophies, maybe a league title) if Citeh hadn't won the lottery. All you are doing is looking back with hindsight that in two of the last four seasons we finished narrowly fifth and therefore we should have done more without any knowledge or responsibility, which is incredibly easy to do, unless it is you in that position makes those decisions 'in the moment', or just doing the old 'wish we were a dodgy oil-money club' routine. We aren't. We are punching above our weight and you are calling for major changes because we aren't punching more above our weight in some ill-defined way.

            And I will ask you again, don't just say we 'should have been regularly CL, explain exactly why we should have been regular CL. And don;t just repeat wishy-washy platitudes that we 'should have' bought one more player, etc.say who we should have bought, why we should have bought them, how they would have made a difference, how you know they would have hit the ground running, and how you know for an absolute fact that we could afford both them and their wages. Because, frankly, the only player I could put a name to on this score was none other than Louis Suarez who issued a 'come and get me' plea to us before joining Liverpool – and the only reason we didn't sign him was because 'Arry (either himself, or through one of his scouts) decided he was too similar to VdV and passed on the deal (yeah, thanks for that one, 'Arry). But, there again, I don't recall Suarez being that prolific in his first season either.

  14. It does make me laugh a little (in a sad way), how delusional some of supporters are. Equally how ridiculous their hopes aspirations and logic appears to be. What many are really saying (without saying it) is they’d prefer a Vincent Tan or Roman Abramovic type to buy us out and hey presto, a whole grotto of silverware and ‘World Class’ players will appear as if by magic! By the same token our new stadium will allow us to soar into the stratosphere of footballing greatness and prevent the likes of Modric and Bale to remain for ever Lilywhite….What nonsense, what ill thought out and unadulterated claptrap-we didn’t fill WHL throughout a regular season in the 70’s and 80’s apart from the games that really mattered, by and large on average most matches were about the 28k mark in a 48-51k stadium and it was far cheaper to attend and when standing was even cheaper! We’ve become a respectable, ambitious top 5 club under ENIC, which is damned sight more attractive than either Sugar or his predecessor Scholar, who’s the catalyst behind of our fall from grace in the early 90’s!

  15. Agreed, although at first no one will deny the win at all cost mindset, i wonder if there stil are not more than a few fans at Chelsea & MC that find this policy stunting the true club pride. Not only that, but the price of losing is inestimately higher and comes with great embarrasment, wittness wigans FA cup win. loosing Harry as manager has probably lost Spurs some credibility mainly due to events that followed. Anyhow at least we can enjoy status as a regular top 6 BPL club, and win games even on bad days.

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