Chairman's message - a response
Below, I've quoted the end of season message from the chairman to the supporters (published before Sunday's game). Time to break this mother down, with ample casualness. Bit too early in the day to get all serious considering we can all do with winding down for the summer before the hellmouth opens up to consume us all with stories about X player(s) linked.
We should all have wanted to start today with our fate in our own hands regarding Champions League qualification after what has been a great season and one which has once again seen us qualify for Europe.
Our current tally of 69 points is just one point off our all-time highest total in the Premier League (2009/10) and already equals our total points tally for last season which saw us finish fourth, a measure of how competitive the Premier League remains. A win today will see us achieve our greatest Premier League points tally ever.
Our fate might have been in our own hands had we not dropped points/signed a striker/done this, done that. It is what it is. Basic mathematics. We finished the season two points short of a Champions League place. That is the fine line at the top of the table. 72 points is a grand total but there is no guarantee it will be enough next season either. Although if I was a betting man, I might wager us on accumulating something closer to 80 points in 2014. That's if we line-up with our strongest centre-backs and Sandro in the middle. And sign more players. And, and and...
I still think with all the disappointment, on paper, it looks very solid. We hardly lose league games compared to Prem Spurs teams of old. This has to become the accepted standard for us to retain our competitiveness and improve.
We started the season with a new Head Coach and Andre was introduced at our new Training Centre shortly ahead of its opening. It is the fantastic facility we planned, it has received much acclaim and praise from all over the world and it is a stand-out marker of the ambitions we have at this Club. Andre and his coaching team, Steffen Freund, Jose Mario Rocha, Luis Martins, Tony Parks and Daniel Sousa have had a great first season and are now well settled at the Club.
Dawn of a new era. One that I hope embraces patience. I don't mean we have to sit around and accept stagnation, but you'd have to be doing something seriously wrong to stagnate this club - both on the pitch and in the boardroom. Hotspur Way is fantastic and appointing Andre Villas-Boas and his more scientific methodology to football, a perfect fit. The base of quality we have in terms of players means there's a springboard for success ready made. He's inherited a good squad, but also one that has a variety of problems. Even with those problems and additional ones that are seasoned expectancies of any given team (injuries) we could still cite disappointment for not finishing higher than we have. Speaks volumes. Also highlights the fact that we can't be complacent in our approach to better ourselves.
It's such an obvious statement to make but the coach needs to be backed with the players he feels he needs to sign to strengthen us so there are no ready made excuses for next season.
Something I've seen discussed by a few Spurs fans this weekend is the fact that Levy has already backed AVB by virtue of appointing him as coach in the first place, considering what happened at Chelsea with the added risk that he wasn't cut out for life in the Prem. It might be that he tested the waters with AVB during this season, but I prefer to believe that if you're going to appoint someone in the first place you back him unequivocally otherwise how can you expect him to do the job you're paying him for?
Gareth Bale deserves special mention. He has had a phenomenal season. We were proud to seen him honoured with a clean sweep of all three major player awards - PFA Player of the Year; PFA Young Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year - and Jan Vertonghen was named in the PFA Team of the Year. Gareth is the first to remind anyone who congratulates him that this is a team effort and we have seen some outstanding performances from the First Team.
What an honour and privilege it is to have Gareth Bale in a Lilywhite shirt. An exceptional talent that is beginning to grow in confidence (how else can you explain the ridiculous belting goals he lashes in from distance?) The scary thing? He's still fledgling. His talents might well deserve CL football but just how rewarding would it be for him to add himself to the list of legends at the club by guiding us to a trophy win first? Can't see him leaving this summer. But if he does next season, it will be because we haven't finished in the top four or won anything.
There is no patience in the evolution of a footballers career. If he is good enough he'll want to move on because there is such a thing as a guaranteed success if you look to join a club that isn't building towards something because they've built it already. Not much fun for the club/fans he leaves behind but that's the reality of modern football. Modric a perfect example. Berbatov before him. But if we aim to achieve something truly special next season, who knows...he might add yet another season to his Spurs career.
We can't also ignore that money/wages plays a massive part in all this. Let's not pretend it's not as important for them as CL football, if not more important. I hope Bale is different.
As for his clean-sweep of awards. Stunning work. Well deserved and box office from start to finish.
Tim Sherwood, John McDermott, Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand have led the way with our youth development and we have had notable success in a variety of competitions, indicating the strength and depth we have across the different age groups.
Our Under-21s have certainly had a fantastic season, reaching the Barclays U21 Premier League Final. They play Manchester United tomorrow and we wish them luck. We were delighted to see four of our young players selected for England U21s for this summer’s European U21 Championships - Steven Caulker, Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and Adam Smith.
We have plenty of youthful talent. Pritchard, Carroll the highlights. Hope to see more of the latter in the first team next season or at the very least be loaned out to a footballing side (Swansea?) for 2014. I worry that some of our academy players look great at that level but don't quite match up to the standard in the Prem. Carroll looks to be an exception. His composure and maturity on the ball is impressive. Needs to beef up a bit, but I've got no concerns there (take a look at Bale's upper body growth in recent years).
Our loan system continues to work well in developing our players and this season saw Andros Townsend voted Player of the Year and Danny Rose voted Young Player of the Year for their respective loan clubs, QPR and Sunderland.
Townsend has to be part of the first team squad next season. We need cover on the flanks. As for Rose, not quite got a handle on what the coach and the club want to do with him. The loan spell has done him good but I'm still not sure he's the answer.
Looking ahead to the summer, we shall continue to seek to strengthen and improve the team and to retain key players. We also look forward to the return of Sandro and Younes who were missed this season but who are well on the road to full fitness.
This. It's what I've repeated a thousand times already. Verts and Kaboul at the back, Sandro protecting them then a new playmaker in the middle of the park and a new striker up front. That is improving the team. Player retention this season is simply: Bale signing a new contract. That is hardly beyond the realms of possibility. If he's going to stay he's going to commit because he has to be rewarded.
Financial Fair Play (FFP) will hopefully see all clubs follow the kind of financial discipline we have followed as we run our Club on a sound financial basis without the benefit of a larger stadium. Short term cost control measures which limit the amount of increased broadcasting revenues clubs can spend to £4m per season and a requirement to break even will have an impact on clubs across Europe.
This is the concern. Plenty of 'spend this, spend that' rhetoric when we start to pull our hair out towards the end of the transfer market, but I wonder (and worry) just how much money are we budgeting for when it comes to actively seeking out new signings? We spent a healthy amount last summer, we just didn't spend in a couple of areas that need careful attention. How tied are the clubs hands when it comes to the stadium and its cost along with the wage bill? Worth also discussing that in terms of what we have to spend this summer - the amount we probably require to spend - would be no different to the amount we would need to spend had we made the CL. You'd think CL would mean more monies but last time we got there, we didn't exactly break the bank.
CL or no CL, we have to make this squad and the team stronger and if it's obvious to me and you what needs fixing, then it is more than obvious to the coach. So all eyes on the chairman, as per usual. This time of year I always ask for the same thing: Get the deals done early.
I'm drug-fuelled optimist.
A large capacity stadium is fundamental to the ability to raise revenue and achieve future growth and success within FFP. Our 36,000 seater stadium has continued to sell out and our waiting list is now in excess of 42,000. Our new stadium plans are progressing and we are applying the same energies to delivering this hugely complex scheme as we did to the delivery of the new Training Centre.
It's going to take time. It can't be the easiest of tasks balancing the progress of the development with the progression of the team. One is there to support the other but at the same time, one might hold the other back. If that is the reality of the situation, then we might find ourselves having to rely on others to falter and for lady luck to finally shine a light down on us. Would rather not. It's about football foremost and if you achieve great things on the pitch, the rest will follow. We just might not have enough room to manoeuvre like others above us.
Where's Kevin Costner at?
As for the waiting list. I wonder what % of that 42k would snap up a season ticket if offered to them? Seems many waiting are far more selective in terms of the type of game(s) they are interested in watching judging by some of our attendances this season (outside of league game).
Ledley will be on the pitch at half time after what has been his first full season since his retirement and his first as a Club Ambassador. He has taken to his new role with all the professionalism and presence he displayed throughout his playing career at the Club and we are so very proud to have him represent us in our local community and around the world. He has played an active role both in the regeneration work around the stadium and also with supporters groups domestically and internationally, having recently returned from South Africa and Sweden.
Legend. Mr Tottenham Hotspur.
Indeed, one stand out feature of the season has been the growth in our supporter base globally. We have seen a 45% growth in the number of supporter groups and we now host official groups around the world in places such as Camp Bastion, Mumbai, Dallas and Moscow to name but a few of the new destinations. We are also currently adding one new supporter group per week from the States as the popularity of the game and 'The Spurs' takes off over there. Welcome to you all.
Good to hear considering the more systematic approach other clubs take with their Borg Collective assimilation of foreign supporters to their fanbase. Not suggesting our growth is completely organic, but I prefer us to be the hipsters abroad rather than the obvious choice. I'm sure Levy would prefer that to be reversed. Every penny counts.
And to all our supporters, whether here today, home or abroad, on behalf of everyone at the Club, thank you. You are what this Club is all about.
I know the Lane will be rocking today with your support for yet another final day of the season, all-important win .
Enjoy the occasion and I wish you and your families a great summer ahead of seeing you here again in August.
A great summer will be defined by what you (Mr Levy) do alongside AVB. No pressure.
There is a very black and white reaction to Daniel Levy. Either he's perceived as being a very good chairman, the best in the league - keeping us competitive with a 36k stadium and a restrained wage structure or he's looked upon as holding us back by being too cautious and with a preference of business over football when it comes to risk taking.
Why no middle ground? Well there is middle ground that some of us have found a space to stand on. Let's not be naive, this is an investment. It is business. But long term it benefits both Levy and Joe Lewis to have Spurs as a success, not just in the end of year financial reviews but also on the pitch because on field success will aid the accountancy off it. Does the club serve a purpose to either if it's just plodding along with healthy profit, selling their best assets to allow for further plods without ever attaining something more tangible for the fans? Why would they a) Risk their investment to the detriment of all and b) Not look to maximise their investment not just as a business but as one that is there to support a football club?
It's probably a tad patronising to believe they don't care. But be careful what you wish for. Stratford might have allowed for the quick fix, saving millions in stadium development and making more thanks to transport links and tourists. Then allowing them to sell the club to a new investor that might elevate us towards the financial clout of a City. That sit well with you? Doesn't with me. Never will.
Levy once said he understood that CL was not a certainty each season (competing for it). On paper, it shouldn't be when you look at the other clubs around us. His point was to appreciate how this would impact the running of a club if they qualified and then didn't - something we've experienced the once. That shouldn't be used as an excuse not to speculate, but it would seem said speculation is very much boxed into Levy's economical bubble - something we all spend our time theorising about.
If we fail to sign the players we need to be signing again, then we might have to accept that bubble simply won't burst for our chairman, but will continue to do so for us.
It does feel like we discuss this every single summer. Levy's pragmatism is one of continued ambiguity.
Onwards. Together. We don't have to hold each others hands, but let's look to march in the same direction.