A one-one home draw with West Bromwich Albion is never going to be acceptable to Spurs supporters. It wasn’t last season when the Baggies bagged a late equalizer and it wasn’t yesterday when, on chances created, the visitors matched the hosts. A smattering of boos was heard as the teams left the field because, as ever, the Tottenham faithful expect so much more.
Broadly speaking there are two views among the supporters regarding the Tim Sherwood appointment. There’s fuming incredulity - ‘how in God’s name has it come to this?’ And there’s forced positivity - ‘we are where we are, let’s get behind the team and you never know, it might work out’.
On the question of how we ended up in the ignominious position of putting a novice in charge of a couple of hundred million pounds worth of talent, fingers point en masse at the chairman.
Persistently doing your job badly is usually the result of incompetence, negligence or ill intentions. Is Levy guilty of any of these things? On a business level he is acknowledged to have run the club well. He’s balanced the books whilst consistently punching above his weight in the transfer market and delivering a new training ground that is the envy of all football into the bargain.
As for negligence, there’s nothing part time about his chairmanship. Not only does he personally conduct the big transfer deals he is regarded as the toughest and most indefatigable negotiator in the business.
So is he badly motivated? It’s been clear from the start that his mission, as given to him by owner Joe Lewis, is to turn the club into a saleable asset with a price far in excess of the one originally paid. To do so, he needs a successful team with excellent facilities hence the training ground and the advanced plans for a new stadium. In other words, he wants the same things as the fans.
So there’s little evidence that Levy is doing his job badly. Indeed, even the on-pitch performance isn’t as poor as we all like to think. Spurs have the sixth highest revenue in the Premier League but more often than not finish in the top five.
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The only thing he has consistently failed to do is find the right manager for the team. But when you look back at the appointments he’s made, did any of them look foolish at the time? Glenn Hoddle, aside from his exulted status in the Tottenham firmament, had Southampton over-achieving and playing great football when Levy paid a king’s ransom to get him in 2001. His successor Jacques Santini was the manager of France who were the reigning World and European Champions. Martin Jol was one of Europe’s top up and coming coaches, heavily favoured by Levy’s equally highly-rated director of football Frank Arnesen. Juande Ramos was the hottest managerial property in Spain. Harry Redknapp, appointed at a real crisis point, was the only realistic choice and even Andre Villas Boas arrived with his European wunderkind status still intact having been poorly treated at Chelsea.
Last week, with AVB gone and all the signs suggesting that it really was by mutual consent, Levy found himself in a familiar predicament. He quickly saw that none of the names big enough to match the scale of his ambitions were immediately available so he was left with a choice between bringing back Hoddle or appointing from within the club. Many of us favoured the former, but it would have meant a great deal of upheaval because Sherwood and Steffen Freund had fallen out with Hoddle during his first stint. They, and quite possibly their allies within the club, would not have been able to work with him as Sherwood will have no doubt pointed out.
Sherwood knows that unless he has a fantastic few months, he’ll be replaced by a Van Gaal or a Capello in the summer so he wisely took the opportunity to exploit Levy’s difficulty by insisting on an eighteen month contract, thereby ensuring a good pay off when the near inevitable happens.
So we are, indeed, where we are. Football fans like to dish out blame and it’s chairmen who are most often on the receiving end. But when you look at Levy’s record, how many of us can honestly say we would have done things differently, let alone better?
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