The many that got away

guest blog by Chris King


Picture the scene.

On a Volcanic Island, thirty years from now, a group of shrivelled, hangdog men are sat round a table chatting. It is the third annual conference of the “Failed Evil Genius” club, and the members are starting to recount their near misses in life.

“I almost killed Superman.”

“I almost caught that pigeon.”

“I did bring the Labour Party and British economy to its knees, but it cost me my job.”

And then, from a darkened corner of the room; a slight, rasping voice speaks up

“I almost signed Diego Forlan, and Giuseppe Rossi, and Charlie Adam, and……”

Dear Mr Levy last night reaffirmed his position within the ranks of a multitude of Spurs’ Chairmen and Managers who nearly clasped their hands around the final piece of the jigsaw. Before, as in any end to an Indiana Jones movie, the piece crumbled to sand, drifting off in the air to sign a contract extension with their current club.

Spurs is now a clear byword for a failed transfer coup.

The image most fans will have from yesterday is of Levy watching reruns of Revisita la Liga, with his ENIC cheque book and pen, frantically shouting “Want, Want, Need, Got” at the TV, as a myriad of stars caught his eye. Offers were submitted before renegotiated contracts were confirmed with existing clubs.

Forlan, Rossi, Aguero, Llorente. Four players that could have shined in the Lilywhite kit yet either chose, or were made to choose their current club over a last minute, 11th hour offer from Mr Levy. Now it may be unfair to say the planning was all last minute, but it is clearly how it played out. Would things have been different with Forlan or Rossi if we’d have tried to agree deals pre-Transfer window opening – as in – before Rossi signed a new contract extension?

The whole issue yesterday smacked of the failed attempts to get Luis Fabiano, Fernando Morientes and Rivaldo. The only time we’ve had any lucky dealing with Spanish clubs is when Van der Vaart fell in to our hands, but you have a feeling that it was the selling club that thought they got the best from that deal.

It’s not just foreign stars we struggle to capture. Carroll was on the radar before everyone took leave of their senses and made him the most expensive Englishman ever. Gareth Barry was supposedly a target of Harry’s; as was Craig Bellamy, Joe Cole and Micah Richards in the summer. All average players, which – just like Robbie Keane – may have had a moment in the sun before being, relegated to yet more squad roles on the fringe of missing the cut for the final 25.

Either clubs fear us and our potential, or more likely – they don’t respect us, don’t believe we will go through with the deals, or more importantly – like with Carroll – they can use us as patsies to get more loyalty or money elsewhere.

The other, more worrying aspect to our current transfer “policy” is the panic bids for players that have had attention from elsewhere. If another club wants a player, like Charlie Adam, then when those talks breakdown (also read Gareth Barry to Liverpool), we seem to find a pot of money to make a last ditch bid – knowing that there isn’t the time, nor interest to get the deal through. What did the Adam bid signify? What does it say about us as a club, or Levy as the chief negotiator? He is quoted as driving a hard bargain – but to what end, the death of our ambition?

Finally, for January at least, there was the derisory bid for Phil Neville – can we really afford £30m for an attacker, but have to pay £500,000 in two instalments – or the desperate attempt to get Beckham onboard to a) sell shirts, b) build prestige or c) talk to Seb Coe? The latter is now more likely to be seen in the stands at the Emirates with his boy than for Spurs to send out more glamour shots of him in our training kit.

Who do we trust in all of this? Since Comolli’s departure – and hold any view you want of him, at least he gave us “direction” – there is no clear view as to who orchestrates the transfer moves, nor who has final say in the type of player we need. All we have is Harry playing out every child’s* Football Manager Fantasy via the Sky Sports’ reporters. Telling the world who he wants, before playing dumb when everything has gone pear shaped. Is it possible to apply a gagging order to your own manager?

It is the current players you have to have a momentary sense of compassion for. Pav appears to have been used as a make weight in most of our deals. He polarises the fan base like no other in the squad, yet it’s hard to see where his motivation will come from now? Is he our fourth choice striker behind Van der Vaart, Defoe and Crouch? Will he be rotated as the big man du jour? Will he end up being Spurs’ very own “Humphrey” Bogarde, running down his contract before moving on for nothing? It is clear that Harry sees a future without him, but then only if Levy gets the right price in return.

Even the flawed Hutton must have woken up this morning realising he is Harry’s second choice right back; the first currently still employed by Everton.

Though I doubt any of this is really new or news to you. When a previous chairman claims our biggest rivals were mugs for buying Carlos Kickaball** – who turned out to be one of the best players to play in the Premier League – then it shows, Champions League qualification aside, we’re still on a different level, in terms of transfers, to the clubs we’ve been chasing for years.

Roll on the next window – I hear Maradona is available and still has an eye for goal.


*some adults also play Football Manager and other well know computer games

** Bergkamp explodes the myth he was a Spurs fan, rather a Hoddle fan in the current Four Four Two.



Chris King almost signed for York Railway Institute Amateurs Bowls Club, but stayed with his current side Holgate out of loyalty last season.