If Gareth Bale was Elvis and we replaced him with the not So Solid Crew, then you can hardly be comparing Franco Baldini to Simon Cowell. It would be more fitting to label him as the person at a kids party that stops and starts the CD player in a maddening game of musical chairs. The club has once more failed in its perpetual experiment to fashion a workable director of football structure. So what went wrong and did anything go right in the Italian's tenure?
We are never quite sure of the internal political dynamics of having someone like Baldini at the club, but arguably his purpose was to support the coach (and his preferred transfer targets) and to lighten the load on Daniel Levy when it came to negotiations. Levy still handled the intricacies of payments whilst Baldini made first contact with clubs and fashioned lists of alternative options. It's actually quite pragmatic when you think about it. How else is it meant to work? We can't expect to sign every player we want. It's also imperative that all three men (at the time it was Andre Villas-Boas) sing from the same hymn sheet. This particular narrative of contention is one the club don't like to see discussed publicly, especially since the aftermath of AVB's mutually agree departure from White Hart Lane.
The romanticised notion of the director of football system is meant to work in favour of the club, regardless of the coach. Someone like Baldini would sign players that fit the clubs philosophy, players that any given coach would be able to adapt into their system (as the coach is meant to be one that compliments the DoF and vice versa). It has rarely transitioned in reality. The crux of the problem is the list of targets and failing to sign the ones that top them. Some simply prefer to sign for others due to Champions League and extravagant wages. Take Willian as the perfect example. We fly him over, he joins Chelsea. Sometimes we fail thanks to financial complexities, like João Moutinho, grabbing Clint Dempsey instead.
The Magnificent Seven had me hyped. I ignored the illusion because it felt good to see us splash money to soothe Bale's escape. I wanted to believe but it became apparent very early that AVB wasn't comfortable, playing some out of position or in isolation. The result was a mess that saw the coach leave and most of the players written off as mistakes.
Christian Eriksen and to a lesser degree Nacer Chadli have retained a role in the brave new world of Paul Mitchell's cost-effective system supporting Mauricio Pochettino with functional recruitment that will suit a style that still needs refinement. Baldini might have been involved in the acquisitions of Eric Dier, Ben Davies and Dele Alli but not to the same degree as say Benji Stambouli or Federico Fazio. Erik Lamela, the supposed jewel in Franco's short lived reign, was meant to be the catalyst for creativity rather than chaos. Only now is the Argentine beginning to find his tempo in England, when it looked for so long that he was signed (for a second time by Baldini) without due consideration regarding the differences between Serie A and the Premier League.
Bale was nearly sold and Lamela was almost sent out on loan. There's still hope for an accidental miracle. But after £100M spent in the most infamous spending spree in Tottenham's history, the legacy left behind by Baldini is one of monumental wasted momentum. Still, at least he's responsible for finally killing the Director of Football experiment.