A self-fulfilling prophecy
I was asked this on Twitter:
Interested to hear your thoughts on the damage done to our transfer policy of having 81m worth of investment unworthy of selection
all things being equal, with a fully fit squad only Paulinho and Eriksen guaranteed to start. Levy looks to be contemplating this
We're run like a business. All clubs are but some are able to spend a lot more and offer a lot more in wages which means they're always going to be several steps ahead in terms of quality on the pitch. Tottenham however, thanks to that 36k capacity stadium, have to be tight with how we set up to spend and recuperate money.
Sadly, Daniel Levy takes it a step too far. It's a train wreck to back a coach, spend millions on new players, see the coach struggle to accommodate the players begging the question - did he actually ask/want any of the players purchased? We all know who AVB wanted (Moutinho, Willian). The Coach continues to retain stubbornness and not attempt to use the players in their best positions but rather stick with a broken footballing philosophy where he fails to get the best out of them. Is he doing this to prove a point or is he that obsessed with his ambitions he won't deviate to something more simplistic and productive? This leads to political in-fighting and the coach falling out with staff/players.
AVB's epiphany was never forthcoming. We sack him/he leaves. We have a new coach who might not fancy half the players signed. So the next question concerns the director of football structure, in place for the sake of continuity. Surely all players signed fit the 'ethos' of the club? Or is it meant to fit the ethos of the coach at any given time? In which case, spending all of the Bale money on seven new players then giving up all hope on that coach within a few months simply illustrates the complete lack of planning and vision. Is Baldini simply the man that flies out to complete deals or does he scout and suggest players? What's the communication like between chairman, DoF and coach? I'll hazard a guess that Tim Sherwood has far more wide reaching influence in his position than Andre ever had.
Seems to me that the players we sign are for the most part (cynical klaxon) signed to appease the potential for sell-on value. Commodities first, footballers second. It's nigh comical that we spend all that money in a single window and then manage to balls it all up. It does take time to gel and settle especially when you spend big but why do so to the detriment of momentum?
Did we need seven new players? Could we have not signed three world class players (the ones Chelsea don't steal post-medical, so not quite world class then) for more money? Should we have attempted to sign a Balesque type of 'superstar'? That's implausible, like for like, and arguably Lamela was meant to fit that particular bill (even though his age suggests he needs time, his proven track record in Italy tells us he isn't as fragile as most wish to believe).
At the time, I'm certain most of us (including myself) lauded Levy and the club for making a genuine statement of intent. It was going to work, how could it possibly not? Someone cite inverted wingers to understand why.
It's the reason why I backed AVB (not the inverted wingers) to the hilt and why I'm bitterly disappointed he didn't prove those who doubted him wrong. There appeared to be a plan. A project (I hate that word but it best describes something that isn't interim). He's to blame us much as Levy but if the players were signed because of Baldini's influence and the mantra of investment then it was always doomed for failure. If AVB's main targets we're not achievable in the transfer market he should have adapted accordingly. If he was incapable of doing so then someone with a footballing head within the club should have seen it coming. Not Levy, Baldini. Sherwood saw it coming, I can guarantee that. They probably all saw it coming, but once more I refer you to the commodities we signed. Investments that can be moved along when necessary to replace with new shiny ones.
Only Tottenham Hotspur can spend £100M and then have to make emergency theoretical at the time or writing signings in the January transfer window consisting of Berbatov and Nani (loan). Lewis Holtby is Fulham bound. Lamela and Chadli both having struggled to make an impact with potential further obstacles in their way. Spurs doubling their forward line-up with another erratic moody striker whilst Soldado (just moody) sits on the bench.
Levy's mantra is on the ropes if he's having to look at an ex-striker that went on strike to force a move to Manchester United and Nani who, well let's face it, isn't very good if we're going to talk about consistency. Considering we have players in the team that struggle with their form adding another one seems to be insane.
Are these signings for the sake of calming the nerves of the supporters or are they ones with validity in improving the team? Holtby is one of a few players that has never been utilised with any measured thought. A player that some malign unfairly as nothing more than a cheerleader simply because he's got a personality. Yet he's testament to the flawed thinking we possess at the club.
Sign him on the cheap. He's young, German and has bundles of potential. He has Champions League experience. Rush him into the team to play out of position and without any of the composure he's capable of and then never really seek to give him a run. Levy's mantra suffers because he's value will drop if he's not playing but that's okay because a loan deal will stick him back in the shop window. He's young, did I mention that? Wonder how much we'd rate him if he was academy breed and born?
Fair enough, AVB wasn't the right man and fair enough if you're backing Sherwood which means some players might be pushed out as a consequence. But for me there's a new culture of comfort that is festering within White Hart Lane. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy where no matter the success or lack of success on the pitch, Spurs are always in a financially healthy state. Able to buy then sell and continue the cycle of repetition without concern it will ever stop. This is a good thing because it allows us to tick over whilst nothing happens with the NDP and our quest for naming rights. It isn't perfect just to tick over. Just ticking over is why we're in this mess again. And yes, it's only a mess because we've long since elevated ourselves from the mediocrity of midtable and have far higher expectations that are hardly out of our reach.
The issue at play has bled into the psyche of the players and team affairs. The players know the second it goes wrong they will be deemed valuable assets to be fed back into the cycle. An escape pod ready and waiting that propels them out of N17 whilst the club can then sign those replacements, reclaiming missing smiles from our faces whilst we repeat the same sing and dance again. And again and again. It's an illusion, a sleight of the hand. The element that binds it together is the suggestion of a project or blueprint, everyone pulling together to challenge and contend. Building towards something tangible with longevity as a team and as a club. It's what players are sold on arrival before the very best of our players are sold on, only to look back and see a stepping stone.
For the record, the Nani loan deal is nonsense (my God I hope it's nonsense, probably agent talk to push through a Inter move). The Berbatov deal is pretty believable because Spurs are so unbelievable and it ties in with Holtby going there on loan. Is there any chance we can sign players that are long term solutions which improve the team? Konoplyanka? Is it worth spending £15M to sign him just for the Liverpool meltdown that will ensue? Yes, yes it is. He can play left-back right? No? Ok, then be thankful the Anfield club have bid more and we've pulled out of the race.
So where does this all end? It never ends. It's Tottenham. It's one drama followed by another and don't pretend you don't love it.
Caveat: I'd say most of the players we've signed WILL settle by next season. Eriksen showing the difference in how best to acclimatise whilst playing in your best position. Others will follow with form. They'll will be causalities. I'm still confident. This is a lull and it isn't even a bad one when you take it all into context. It's just an unnecessary one when you consider how we've managed to enforce this underachievement with mismanagement.
Good luck to Holtby at Fulham. He needs a loan deal (no option to buy) to give him the consistency he craves so he's re-considered for Spurs or rather for those profit margins. Don't fret, we're recalling Livermore. Jake's got this.