You know there's something broken about supporting Tottenham if you're enjoying the international break. Yes, I'm enjoying it. Not having to think too much about club football whilst ignoring England is a godsend. I feel cleansed. Free. Detached from rationalising and the grim post-mortems of yet another low-key non-event at the Lane. I'm not even allowing the ominous stat that Hull City haven't won a league game since the opening weekend of the season to eat away at my hope for when Spurs return to the forefront of our minds. Still, here I am writing a muse, which proves even when I'm trying to escape the tunnel collapses on my head.
Two topics appear to be the main discussion points currently. Paul Mitchell and MK Dons.
Mitchell is the head of recruitment at Southampton. Soton being the go-to-club for Daniel Levy when we need a new manager or player. Copy and paste the methodology of preference. We don't innovate, we always attempt to replicate. That's not to say I'm hateful towards the rumour that Mitchell has handed in his notice so that he can join us and work with Mauricio Pochettino again. If you want to focus on a positive, you could easily believe that this is as close to the chairman backing the coach as you'll get from Levy as he's unlikely to write us an open letter blessed with transparency. The negative of course is why a club of our stature isn't structuring the internal hierarchy to a competent standard to facilitate all we have at our disposal. Is this yet another attempt to change something where the one constant is the one doing all the changing?
We remain a reactive football club, not a pro-active one - especially when it comes to long term strategy and what remains a mythical ideology of using the same template across all squads - from academy to first team. With the constant failure of the director of football role (which appears to be nothing more than a buffer between chairman and coach), the accountability for the turn-over of men that Levy chops and changes has never been so magnified. Will he opt for stability or yet another admittance of appointing the wrong man by laying blame elsewhere?
Mitchell isn't a DoF and would focus on recruitment for all players, all ages. His role won't conflict with Franco Baldini. Presumably because Baldini 'signs' players after they've been approved by chairman and the coach (who has to usually surrender to the reality his first choice target won't be arriving). Ian Broomfield is our chief scout so he'll continue to work with support from Mitchell. I assume. The point being, he'll fit into an empty space that currently resides within the club, rather than replacing something that is already there. Most would prefer the latter.
So who is Mitchell? Is he another buffer? Or is he someone that can bring us some refined decision making when it comes to signing new players? Hand on heart, I know as much as I do thanks to Jeremy Wilson's article (Telegraph) that paints a fairly impressive picture of a young man with a progressive mindset on how to recruit talent. That's not to say his imminent arrival would change THFC over-night. From a first team perspective, what we need is for the club to finance deals that - as a priority - benefit the team and appease the coach with immediate impact, rather than the current focus on players and their future value. Mitchell isn't solely responsible for Southampton's current success or their recent youth products. Also, Pochettino and his former club, have made mistakes in the transfer market. It's not a full-proof solution, but then nothing truly is.
There is nothing wrong with having structure that is able to support consistency with signing players that fit into the philosophy the coach wants to implement. The coach will request a player or a certain type - the club will sign one or the other. Going on the infamous £100M spending spree we didn't sign anyone that AVB wanted so Mitchell would manage expectancy and damage limitation in terms of avoiding costly mistakes. How that works with our current net-spend glory and selling big to buy, I couldn't say.
ENIC might only be able to run their maligned business model to keep us competitive (attempting to be). However, if we concentrated on building a team with players that resemble a collective rather than mismatched individuals, then we wouldn't be facing the uncertainty that infects any downturn in form (with supporters concerned about yet another managerial reboot that can sometimes be reason enough to influence the reboot).
So what of Mitchell and his methodology?
Southampton have a room where they have ten or so screens of matches being watched by a team of people, including scouts that go out and visit playing fields to watch targets live. Hardly ground-breaking but an emphasis on data capturing with constant viewing thanks to tech and the internet, you don't need to leave a room to see someone kick a ball. The ones that do breath the fresh air are closer to approving a target.
Mitchell's secret weapon is the 'black box'. This is apparently a room with a phone, desk and a row of chairs with a giant screen running internally designed software that Mitchell plugs into and can view any player of team - anywhere in the world. A hub of visual knowledge, a couple of clicks away at any given time. It's also used for reviewing the current squad and future opponents. Sounds like the Football Manager (game) database with real life footage that is constantly updated. I guess Spurs at best record Match of the Day on Sky+ and pause and rewind it, so this 'black box' is mightily impressive in comparison.
The black box sounds doesn't sound too dissimilar to Charles Xavier's Cerebro from the X-Men. Amplifying the brainwaves of the user to enable him to detect traces of Spurs targets worldwide, distinguishing between probable flops and possible world class talent. Although Cerebro was hardly perfect in the comics and even if Mitchell's black box can provide the necessary data for the club to then agree a fee for purchase - the club still needs to agree the said fee.
So once more I'm back to the issue of relationships. Funny how we make time for a special one that signs are best players and can't forge one with those we employ. I can envisage a power struggle that sees Mitchell take the role of the young Xavier and Levy as the old bald version in our own days of future past, once more attempting to change the course of history and prevent the event that usually results in doom for both Spurs and the men bestowed with the responsibility to avoid war.
This is the most telling part of the article from the Telegraph:
"Part of the philosophy and the theory is to not waste time on things that are unachievable. What can we achieve? How can we achieve it? How can we be more efficient? Then how can we analyse that to make it even better the next window or the next time we debrief it, and constantly just keep evolving and challenging ourselves every day. That's the key.
"It's not proven science, but I think our philosophy and theory was always risk management. Let's try to offset as much of the risk as possible to make the best acquisition. You have a responsibility to your owner that invests a hell of a lot of money to work as hard as you possibly can to make the best acquisition for the football club, and that's what we're trying to do. We're investing in the processes and the strategies. I actually do feel within the industry there is a little shift. The transfer window is becoming box office, it's real intrigue. I think that will shift to people looking at best practice throughout the industry and then taking that as their own."
On paper, as a quote, it screams to be associated with our own policy of throwing enough **** at the wall until some of sticks. You can almost see how Levy would be content with Mitchell as the science at play is there to protect the club and support the coach. It's all beginning to look too good to be true.
Regardless of Mitchell, Pochettino needs time. That is something we can not manipulate and can only allow it to pass naturally. Levy is too involved in the football, running the club like a general manger. The mess inherited by Poch is one created by the mismanagement that came before him so Mitchell arriving (if he does) has to signify an admittance of past indiscretions. Levy has to be unequivocal with his faith and backing of the man he appoints. Otherwise it won't work, much like it's never worked before. It's worked accidentally (Jol, Redknapp) and that does not breed confidence. Also, Levy has never been unequivocally in favour of retaining someone's services.
I appreciate we need a strong chairman and we need someone to make decisions that are sometimes detached from the emotive elements of faith that supporters align themselves with but equally so, we need some warmth to push back the cold front.
As for MK Dons...
I've already written about this. I don't feel the need to repeat myself with a hefty word count. MK Dons is a franchised club that should not exist (much like Arsenal). Ground sharing even for a single season (and giving them money) will see us accepting of their history which makes a complete mockery of our identity as a club that prides itself on being one with North London. I don't recognise MK Dons. So if I don't, and I'm Tottenham Hotspur, then the club - that appears to be languishing in the very depths of connectivity with its fan-base - should prove to all that they recognise and respect us - the supporters - and find an alternative.