Gareth Bale has signed a new contract to 2016, and Tottenham fans nationwide are blowing sighs of relief. There has been much talk of departure recently, what with Redknapp gone and his supposed army of followers-Modric, VDV etc- supposedly about to march out behind him. Fortunately, Daniel Levy has other ideas and his extension of Bale’s contract is another display of the fact he is a seriously savvy businessman.
Bale only signed a new contract- putting him amongst the clubs highest earners- back in March 2011. That ended in 2015, and he’s now added a year to 2016. Why bother extending for just another year? Levy knows only too well that were Bale to have another excellent start to the season (as he has done for the last two years before tailing off in the final months), talk of Barcelona’s lure will only start again; only this time with the added caveat of Bale soon coming into the final two years of his contract in the summer. Two years is an awful long time in football, but you only need to look across at Arsenal and see how they are sweating over Van Persie going into the final year of his contract, not to mention their travails with Nasri last summer, to know that two years can very quickly become one year and before you know it it’s the player and not the club (read: Levy) who is in control of the situation.
Obviously we’ve seen this all before with Modric who, it seems, is set to leave this summer. No right-thinking Spurs fan would ever begrudge him departing for lusher surroundings; realistically he has already given us one year more than he should have. He is a wonderful, player and with us not being in the Champion’s League last season he could have agitated harder for a move. But he didn’t, partly because he seems a decent sort but also because he was tied into a contract until 2016. The length of this put all the power in Levy’s hands to say no to Chelsea when they came back once, twice, thrice.
Unfortunately a second year with the Champion’s League is too much for a player of Modric’s quality, which is why the talk of him leaving is more concerted this year. Levy surely knows this, as much as he knows he can now go into negotiations with Madrid/Chelsea/United with the strongest possible hand.
Levy has rolled the dice, and it’s looking like it’s going to land on AVB. A risky decision, certainly, with shades of Ramos. Levy has often been accused of being a businessman before a football man and certainly the easiest option would have been to just stick with Harry
All these actions have obviously been great for Spurs financially, allowing us to protect ourselves from the titans that be, but symbolically they’ve been vital as well. Spurs are not as big a club as the others, but they aspire to be so. Hypothetically, if Modric had gone last year and Bale this all talk would be of us reaching our ceiling. For Spurs to regularly, genuinely, challenge the top boys there’s going to have to be a new stadium (which is in motion) and a new wage structure (which will hopefully come with the new stadium). So at the moment our position is that of pretty outsiders who will occasionally nudge their way into the flashbulbs glare. But by behaving this way, by not letting players just cry when they cut their knee, by showing a stubbornness that suggests Spurs- although historically flighty on the pitch- are a b*stard in the boardroom, he’s sowing seeds for a future that may or may not be golden.
Of course, to talk about Levy and not talk about his most prominent recent action would be folly, as it is with his decision to fire Redknapp that he may come to be defined by. These are both exciting and nervy times as the Lane. Redknapp gave us the football any Spurs fan under the age of 30 had rarely seen (but were constantly reminded about). He gave us the Champion’s League, he gave us semi-finals, he gave us the chance to actually go into the last 5 minutes of games and not just assume we were going to concede 2 goals.
Harry has been on record saying that he thought the club had the potential to win a title in the next couple years. The big question in response, once you've queried whether this is actually true, is whether he was the man to take us there. A personal hunch is that Redknapp was the perfect man for a difficult time at the club; he dragged us away from the relegation zone (as he isn’t shy about saying when the cameras are going) and turned us into everyone’s second favourite team. But there was still a tendency to flunk our lines when it seemed easier not to; the FA Cup semi-final losses against Portsmouth and Chelsea, the galling draw against Villa on the second to last game of last season where, despite all the odds, we’d somehow gained the power back from Arsenal in the race for third. It was that Villa result, or the home loss against Norwich in April, that lost us our Champion’s League place, not Chelsea’s heroics in Munich.
And now Levy has rolled the dice, and it’s looking like it’s going to land on AVB. A risky decision, certainly, with shades of Ramos. Levy has often been accused of being a businessman before a football man and certainly the easiest option would have been to just stick with Harry. But the fort has been held since Redknapp left- Bale has signed, Sigurdsson looks like he will be coming, Vertonghen if he can get his pay-off. The decision to retain Tim Sherwood as a coach is a shrewd one, ensuring there is a link on the coaching team between the Redknapp era and the next. Obviously, if Spurs are lurking in the in the bottom half come Christmas there'll be grumbles and people will say he should have stopped meddling, but football is a risky business and, up until now, most of Levy's risks have paid off.
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