An end of season letter from the chairman to the fans that sums up everything by saying nothing. Quotes and thoughts provided below.
Notwithstanding that today’s match is an opportunity for a top six finish and European qualification again, I am conscious that on this, the last day of the season, we are reflecting on what might have been.
The new signings in the summer had the effect of raising expectations and we all started the season with high hopes, yet the players undoubtedly needed time to adapt to a new league. We were also forced to make managerial changes, which is far from ideal mid-season.
Raising expectations is an emotion associated to the supporters. We're the ones blinded by star signings, getting over-excited with dreams of glory. Intelligent squad building and fine-tuning is the job of the ones within the club. Levy and co signed off on all the signings. So you'd expect seasoned business men and football coaches to understand the impact of losing a talismanic player and bringing in several new imports from abroad. So the fact that Levy chooses the word 'forced' suggests that Andre Villas-Boas wasn't dismissed/asked to leave by mutual agreement based on the slow acclimatisation of the new players. Once more it nods towards the fact that AVB had lost control over the team and relationships with other members of staff/players meaning he could no longer be tasked with the responsibility.
Nigh impossible to comment on whether Levy should have backed the coach he appointed because we're not privy to the details. Fact is, you could see it in AVB's eyes in the home thrashing by Liverpool that his time was up. Levy couldn't save him if he wanted to and the comments at the time suggested both parties agreed a separation was for the best. I know it's easy to hate on Levy for dismantling 'the project' but if the project is failing then change is the only option. If this was simply a case of bad form from the coach in terms of results and performances (with the acclimatisation in mind), then AVB should have been backed - but that wasn't the case.
Because of the way this ended, it seems that he was never cut out for Spurs and that suggested warmth he praised us for when he first arrived at Spurs (comparing us to Chelsea) turned into a cold front - one that he is accountable for. Although you can continue to theorise whether the supporting structure of the club's hierarchy is one that doesn't poison all within meaning that it is always destined to failure - regardless of the appointment.
Such is the competitive nature of the Premier League, no one team can guarantee a top four finish. However that’s not what it’s just about - our sense of falling short, felt by all, including the players, is based on some poor performances during the season and knowing we have not performed at the level we know we could have done. Even in games where we gained maximum points, our football was not always what we have come to expect and associate with our Club.
A statement of facts, one echoed by us all countless times this season. Our failure feels so much worse than it is because of the ambitions and prior momentum that led us into this season with high hopes. The football would have continued to be pragmatic under AVB had he remained and we kept winning games (before the tactical breakdowns left us all questioning the not very Spurs approach). The point being, our football style is only questioned if there is an obvious collapse of progression. Spurs (last season) looked dare I say mature and professional with their execution and application - even if it wasn't exciting. Although its suggested time and time again we only won games because of Gareth Bale, but to suggest this would be dismissive of how organised and fairly solid the rest of the players were - especially away from home.
Under Tim Sherwood - who doesn't get a mention in the letter from Levy - there was no real identifiable shape. It was experimental for the most part, but far more exciting but not necessarily better - depending on what you define as important. Do you want to be sat on the edge of your seat but be distinctively average and below par or do you want to understand the plan at hand (and still be average but more likely to win?). Fact is, we got tonked by 'top four teams' under both AVB and Sherwood. All it proved is that neither of their football was strong enough to compete at the top level and that both under-achieved with the wealth of talent available to them. Although this is partly circumstantial because of the influx of new players and the clubs initially mess of managing them into the team. I still firmly believe some of the players signed were not AVB's choice.
I firmly believe we have a quality squad with many players from whom we have yet to see their full potential and players who have individually shown great form this season. We also have a healthy mix of experience and youth and over the last two seasons particularly we have seen Development Squad players move up to the First Team and put in promising performances.
Our challenge now is to ensure we are in the best possible position for the start of next season - a season in which we shall look for a new level of commitment and performance from all.
Another statement of fact and one that should be understood clearly by those making the decisions at Spurs that the foundation is there. The youth players don't look out of place and deserve their appearances out of merit. What we need is for the coach to get the best out of the players, positionally and in terms of aligning them to the football they deserve to play and we deserve to watch. Pace, movement and attacking intent with the ability to adapt to the opposing teams that will no doubt look to nullify the free-flowing stuff. AVB over-complicated it. Sherwood, simplified it. We need someone that is not just astute but is able to gel players together so that there is genuine leadership and not just empty words. Someone also that will seek to nurture from the academy players.
Players are so mentally fragile and easily influenced that I'm certain they will perk up if the right appointment is made. The defining difference is that the coach appointed has control over what he wants to build at Spurs. Let ENIC worry about the bricks at the NDP whilst the new man tinkers and adds to the squad, building pillars to the sky on the flat foundation. The disassociation with the new players and both AVB and Sherwood with the odd pot shot at Franco Baldini just adds fuel to the fire that there's a disconnect with transfer strategy.
We are in the most exciting, watched league in the world. You, our fans, are our lifeblood and we see a huge increase year-on-year in our supporter numbers. This season we celebrated the opening of our 100th Official Supporters’ Club.
So an increased capacity stadium is also a priority. We are currently waiting for the Government’s decision with regard to purchasing the last remaining property necessary to complete the site assembly. In the meantime the pre-commencement works on site are ongoing and we shall continue to keep you updated.
I've had my season ticket for 10 years. Been part-time for 3 years due to family commitments. Not renewing. To be honest, I can't get to games and can only pick and choose so best the ticket goes to someone that can attend and I just visit the Lane when I can. When (if) the new stadium is built, I'm certain attaining a season ticket won't be too tricky. Talking of which, as much as I dig at Levy for a multitude of things I find it humorous that some are suggesting the last remaining property (company) should be respected for digging their heels in and that somehow this is another negative to associate with Levy and the club. I guess people don't appreciate the game played between developers and property owners and the song and dance that is fundamentally about how much money can be saved/made out of it. Yes, the sense of community is at times an illusion, but this is about us kick starting the building and to be honest, I couldn't care less about another business in the area that wants to earn an extra million or two for their pension fund.
Tomorrow we host a Testimonial match for one of the Club’s true legends, Ledley King, and we are delighted that the Lane will be filled with thousands of you joining the celebration. With so many former players returning it looks like being a night to remember.
Today, let’s get behind the team as they look to put in a winning performance and ensure we compete in Europe once again.
Thank you for your support this season. I wish you and your families a healthy and happy summer and I look forward to welcoming you back for the 2014/2015 season.
Great that King gets a testimonial. Better to see this than him pushing a trolley down the aisle in Sainsbury for another official club photo-opp. Gutted I wont be there. If there is one game the club should stick on DVD it's this. Unlucky for me I wont be there to see the old boys return and for Ledley to get the footballing send off he deserves.
As for the summer, thank God it's here and I'm hoping for a decisive one. The new appointment has to happen quickly and we have to seek to resolve any disputes with players wanting to leave - allowing the club to then target any new players and push out the ones we don't want.
Let this prolong and it will only serve to damage us in preparation for 2015.