Opinion: Why Steve Hitchen is the biggest problem at Spurs

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There is never a dull moment when supporting Tottenham Hotspur. To say these past 17 months have been a rollercoaster of emotions would be an understatement.

In the past year and a half, we have witnessed a Pochettino firing, a Mourinho hiring, a global pause on the game, a new Super League formed, the new Super League disbanded and finally the firing of recently hired Jose Mourinho.

At the same time, Tottenham have recently been named the ninth richest club in the world, according to Deloitte, bringing in €445 million in total revenue.

Which begs the question, with all of this revenue generated, why do we feel so unstable as a club (as we saw this past year and a half) and more importantly, why can’t we win anything?

Daniel Levy and ENIC are incredibly difficult to deal with and their frugal approach to all aspects of the club have had both positive and negative effects.

The positive, Tottenham have the best football specific stadium in the world and even better than most American stadiums. This has allowed Tottenham to establish its relevancy amongst the global football elite.

However, with the focus solely on financing the stadium, the transfers and the budget inevitably fell by the wayside. There is no greater example of this than when we were the first premier league club to not sign a single player in the 17/18 summer transfer window.

The strange thing is, Daniel Levy and whoever is manager at the time, usually get the brunt of criticism for the club’s transfer activity. However, one individual who gets away with relatively little criticism is Steve Hitchen, Tottenham’s Chief Scout turned Technical Performance Director.

In my opinion, Steve Hitchen doesn’t get enough pressure placed on him for our transfer activity and his scouting and performance has significantly held us back from identifying long term talent and ultimately winning silverware.

There are two main reasons I believe that Steve Hitchen is the main contributor to the lacklustre windows we have experienced in the past few years. One, he lacks the experience to scout for top talent and two, his attitude towards each window, specifically the January window, has allowed for lacklustre recruitment and poor money being spent.

Steve Hitchen has a lack of experience in identifying top talent for clubs around the world. He started off his career with a solid foundation; as a part-time scout at Tottenham, before moving into a scouting role for Liverpool.

However, these roles were always under someone, rather than dictating transfer activity himself. From there, he took on the head of European Scouting role at QPR before being promoted to chief scout at Derby County.

His only executive-level role was at Derby County, where they have finished ninth in the three months that he was chief scout at the club.

This is important because his transfer strategy, although only implemented for one window, has brought them 9th, 6th, 6th,10th and now currently they are 21st in the championship.

Now, this is not to say the club’s lack of promotion or ambition is solely due to Steve Hitchen’s transfer activity, that would be ludicrous.

However, this does show that in the short time between his job at Derby County and when he left for Spurs, a total of three months, he identified talent that took them from 5th to 6th, with them not finishing above where they were prior to his arrival and have not been promoted after his departure.

This shows that his transfer strategy and recruitment did not impact Derby County in any significant way and ultimately his hiring has harmed the club more than it has helped.

Then, after Paul Mitchell moved on from Spurs, Daniel Levy saw the chance to rehire the man who people claim “found Modric and Suarez” (although later reports claim he was asked to scout the only to confirm their ability to cope with the jump to the Premier League).

As chief scout from 2017 to 2019, his job was to identify and report on top talent in Europe. However, if you look at his recruitment history, did he successfully do his job?

Due to Tottenham’s financial constraints, identifying and paying for top talent will always be a challenge. This makes Steve Hitchens job especially difficult, as having owners who won’t spend for big players, you will be forced to come up with creative ways to improve the team.

Unfortunately, Steve has neither made signings for drastic improvements to the squad nor used the already restrictive funds wisely.

Let’s take a look at his defensive signings since becoming Chief Scout: Davidson Sanchez, Juan Foyth, Serge Aurier, Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilon and Joe Rodon. The price of all of these players? Over £100m.

If Steve did his due diligence, he could’ve signed these players in 2017 for a similar amount of money: Andy Robertson, Ruben Dias, Wan Bissaka, and Harry Maguire.

Now, of course it is unfair to assume that Tottenham would have been able to attract these players.

However, quoting Steve Hitchen from the Amazon documentary, “all of these big clubs are fishing in the same pond,” so the fact that we did not even register significant interest or place a bid for these players speaks volumes to our scouting efforts.

We can go down the list for misses that the clubs have had. Jack Grealish, who manager at the time Steve Bruce said “If Tottenham did their homework early, I’m sure he would be a Tottenham player.”

How about Bruno Fernandes? Before eventually moving to United, Tottenham decided to instead buy Gio Lo Celso… Had Levy and Hitchen forked out just a bit extra, Bruno would be a star player for Spurs now and for years in the future.

Instead, we paid for Lo Celso, who had big questions marks to begin with (his failed spell at PSG) and cannot stay healthy. To give credit to Steve Hitchen, he did bring in young talent like Sanchez, who was considered one of the top young players in Europe at the time.

Finally, when it matters most, Steve fails to add any firepower in the January window to help address injuries and/or make the team more well-rounded in a title chase. A great example of this is last season.

Although not in a title race, Spurs were desperate to add some much-needed attacking depth to push for a European place, especially the Champions League. What did Steve do? He went out and got two unproven players in Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes.

Manchester United got Bruno, Liverpool got Minimano, West Ham brought in Soucek. These players have been better than both of our signings, Stevie Bergwijn hasn’t scored for us this year and Gedson is no longer at the club.

Again, this comes down to scouting and spending money WISELY, something Tottenham has not done since Steve has been at the club. In fact, Steve’s approach to the January transfer window is telling in the All or Nothing Documentary.

“January Transfer Window is the worst transfer window. It’s a window of opportunity, it’s a window of panic, it’s never a window to plan…. I hate it.”

That’s Tottenham’s head of recruitment, saying a transfer window is a window you do not plan for and only a window of opportunity. At any other job, if you said openly you hated the main aspect of your job, do you think you would be employed?

Only at Tottenham, would you openly discuss your hate for your job and still be employed.

Steve Hitchen is ruining this club. Tottenham is one of the richest clubs in the world. We have the best number 9 in the world and top players in every key position.

Unfortunately, when it comes to building around the key players that have stayed through the rebuild, our club fails.

It is time to get Steve out of our club and to bring in a recruiting team that can identify, attract and retain top talent.

Without it, we will consistently be in a rebuild for years to come and will go another 13 years without a trophy. As always, come on you Spurs!

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Daniel Levy and Steve Hitchens are the 2 main reasons why the footballing side of spurs have failed. Yes we can point to Levy’s qualities at running a business frugally and profitably and no one can knock him for the stadium and the creative side to the position he holds as far as sponsors and corporate events. BUT his constant interfering undermining and lack of support towards his managers is simply not good enough. He needs a quality director of football and to stay away from footballing decisions but we all know he loves the power and that is why spurs fail on the pitch. Hitchens well he hasnt got the quality or the experience or the nouse to work in a club at the level of spurs or even the premiership. When campos is out of work wanting to work with Jose at spurs and take spurs to the next level Levy chokes. Infact i think hitchens is only there as Levy knows he can walk all over him and we know Jose is as arrogant and as power hungry as levy. Jose was just the wrong person for the job unless as i expect he was brought in to have a manager with a really high profile to help sell the club and when that sale wasnt on the cards he did the only thing he could do and thats sack Jose as he couldnt walk all over him and get his own way, Jose was on huge money, expected an expensive overhaul this summer and there was probably a power struggle between the 2 of them. How he did it showed that Jose’s remit ie cup and top 5 was never even important as it was still a possibility of success. Personally Im not a massive Jose fan but I respect his achievements and I get angry with all the negative press, the awful agenda ansd witch hunt by the press and just idiot fans who cant think for themselves and just follow the medias narrative like lost sheep. Jose had an aging poor squad which has struggled with fitness and injuries over the last 17 months averaging more games played than any other club in europe. We had a load of deadwork that should have moved on years ago that are only there as Levy cant get what figure he wants for them so he keeps them in the squad which then doesnt leave room or funds for new players. Levy thinks they will do and when they get the odd game they will play hard and give everything for the cause . unfortunately that is rarely what happens. They might try and impress a new manager for a few weeks but normally they end up back surplus to requirements and the circus continues. Its weird that with this poor squad and awful defence if you add up every teams points from when jose started until now we would be quite ahead in 4th. So with a bit of a clear out and squad investment in players jose wanted we would have probably improved massively by next year when crowds will be returning. Now Levy has left us without a manager and most good managers are distancing themselves from spurs and who would blame them with levys record

  2. Steve Hitchen is a wholly uninspiring ‘yes’ man, but it is Lewis and Levy who are ruining the club, not Hitchin, who is merely symptomatic of a deeper lack of ambition that runs through the club at the playing level. THFC is primarily a property and financial investment vehicle for its ownership group ENIC, the business of winning trophies, the true metric of success of a football club, is secondary. One trophy in 20 years of ownership, Spurs’s worst such run since the Second World War, bears testament to that fact. Lewis and Levy have consistently demanded world class results on a ‘shoestring budget’ but have failed to back their managers with a chronic ‘net spend’ on transfers consistent with a bottom three club, rather than a top 6 outfit. It’s beyond time for these imposters to finally sell the club to an ownership group that possesses genuine ambition for success and the financial wherewithal to achieve it.

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