We Sold Elvis & Bought So Solid Crew: What Spurs Should've Done With Bale Money
Eight-six million pounds was the princely sum eventually received for Gareth Bale, a colossal amount of money even in the world of football’s grossly inflated fees. With this Spurs were supposed to invest and move forward, this was to finance shaping the side in the vision of a highly-rated progressive head coach. However, with half a season gone this clearly hasn’t happened.
Whilst in terms of league position Spurs are roughly where you would expect, there can be no suggestion that Spurs have advanced since the summer. The highly rated head coach has gone, the majority of the signings have failed to contribute very positively and some are already on the verge of leaving.
What were the alternative options that could have been taken?
Don’t Sell Bale
Starting with the obvious, could Spurs have told Real Madrid that they would not sell at any price? The issue with this is when that Bale had effectively gone on strike and had stopped training with the team due to an ‘injury’. On top of this it really was a ludicrous fee that was offered even Manchester United, a club with far more financial clout and worldwide standing, buckled to. Sadly given the fee and Spurs’ lack of Champions League football and ownership by an investment company this was never a realistic option.
Sell Elvis, Buy Lennon & McCartney
Many quipped that Spurs had sold Elvis and bought The Beatles. Replacing one phenomenal talent with a smorgasbord of footballers who could collectively replace the chasm left in Bale’s wake. What appears to have transpired is that Spurs have sold Elvis and replaced him with So Solid Crew. A vast collective of individuals capable of flashes of brilliance but nothing quite like the original. Instead of trying to replace Bale with numbers who would improve the squad perhaps it would have been better to invest in a couple of key players who would really improve the first team. Even those which have arrived may have made a better impact if they had been integrated into a squad which was more or less than same as the previous season. Signing players such as Chadli and Capoue offered quality squad options but as they offered no real improvement on the first team may have complicated the integration process.
If reports are to be believed then AVB didn’t want Lamela, Eriksen, Chiriches or Chadli. He instead favoured a pair of his former Porto team in Hulk and Moutinho, the veteran David Villa and his close associate Willian. Although those four may have cost significantly more it would still have been a summer net spend roughly matching Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. The additional bonus is that they would have been players that Villas-Boas would have clear about how he would integrate them into his ideal 4-3-3. Additionally, the reluctance that AVB appeared to show in blooding Lamela in particular would likely have been much less with players he really desired. The slight caveat of this being that of Spurs recruits two of those AVB didn’t want in Eriksen and Chiriches have been the best of the bunch.
Invest in defence
Whilst Spurs’ defence made an impressive start to the season the lack of quality in depth has become very apparent. Danny Rose isn’t a bad player but he’s not a strength of the side. Likewise Dawson is a perfectly serviceable Premier League footballer but he’s not a defender that a side aiming for the top should be relying on. Missing out on Coentrao whilst negotiating the Bale deal was a huge mistake. There are few top quality left-backs available let alone those out of favour and willing to move from the club you are bargaining with. Additionally, instead of investing in Capoue and Chadli a top quality central defender could have been purchased. Or perhaps just keep hold of the young, England international defender you already had.
It’s easy to say these things in hindsight. Selling Bale was realistically out of Levy’s hands once a bid of that size was tabled. What happened next was not. Investing all of the Bale bounty in one spree of mainly attacking players appears to have unbalanced the squad. Supplying AVB with the players he desired would have been the preferable option. Whilst he had the title of ‘Head Coach’ in a Director of Football structure it is clear the headstrong Portuguese's lack of backing in securing his preferred options played a part in the squad’s struggles and Villas-Boas’ own downfall. He is however, not blameless in the issues faced as a result of the transfer planning. Bolstering the defence may well have prevented the cataclysmic collapses against Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham which lead to his demise.
Time will tell and perhaps under Sherwood some of these signings will emerge as examples of Levy and Baldini’s vision in the market. Right now it looks like the various parties royally messed up their Bale out.
Follow Mac on Twitter, @ScroobiusMac