Look Out, You’ve Been Levyed!

The ‘Buy It Now’ price was reasonable but pitched too high for a tried and tested model like that one. Demand and supply fixes the value regardless of the opinions of the vendor, and these days everyone wants these new-fangled gadget phones. This one suited me, just calls and texts. He was open to offers, so I waited, that’s what I do. Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.

As the clock ran down, I pounced. Once I made my move, he had little choice. The Nokia 3109, brand new, unwanted work upgrade, T-mobile only – he had nowhere else to go. Half his asking price, a quarter of the shop value. I had my prize and the vendor had been levyed.

Levy – verb to extract the lowest possible price, ruthlessly, from a transaction, usually by exploiting the weakness and vulnerability of others

Origin – the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, an English football club, renowned for waiting until the last moment when purchasing players for the team.

The purchase of my phone is pretty much the same as that of Van der Vaart, bar the 6 zeros at the end of the price. In the past I’ve been bitterly critical of Levy, from the ghastly era of Pleat as the caretaker boss where we so nearly were relegated, through to Santini and Jol’s sacking. However, over the past few years my grudging acknowledgement of his undoubted business acumen has become genuine respect. The club’s long-term future appears to be far more secure than most Premier League clubs and he’s brought some fine players here in the process. Early last season I wrote a piece characterising Levy as Redknapp’s poodle. When he took the job Harry made much of the fact that he had sole control over transfers – no director of football – and Levy, a businessman out of his depth when it comes to football matters,  was more than happy to roll over and have his tummy tickled. I was wrong – Levy’s biggest success has been to curb Redknapp’s spendthrift instincts whilst simultaneously enabling the team to develop.

As someone who is to bartering what Kevin Pietersen is to tweeting, I admire his chutzpah. I am the definition of the opposite of pokerface, as anyone who has ever played cards with me will gleefully confirm, yet Levy is prepared to sit it out. More than that, he coldheartedly susses the vulnerability of a prospective vendor and exploits it to the hilt. Word is that other chairmen and agents don’t like doing business with him. I wonder why.

It’s not always worked, of course, as the hapless Ramos will testify. Frazier Campbell for Berbatov, anyone? We’ve clearly been outbid in terms of both fees and salaries for top players in this window. As the tumult dies away, I am more disappointed than I anticipated by our failure to improve the striking options. A top class striker with different skills to those currently available to Redknapp would have done us the world of good. However, I remain convinced that Levy is correct in refusing to pay vastly inflated fees and especially salaries. It’s tempting as we have cash in the bank but there is no reason to upset the pecking order in the club, where good players have been rewarded with generous contracts, team spirit is cohesive and the quality is there already.

Also, and I’m sorry if regular readers have heard all this before,  we have to face facts: players may not wish to come here. Fabiano for instance: I’m sure we made a good offer but settled in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, excellent wages, good team, sun on his back, fewer language problems, swap that for a team with no recent pedigree in Europe, an area of north London containing some of the most deprived communities in the country or, worse, Chigwell, a long hard slog through the winter and a ground that holds fewer than 39,000 people. To me, WHL is a holy paradise on earth but not to everyone.

When it comes to gambling,  I understand all there is to know.  What happens is, you put your money down, on the card table or at the bookie’s window, wait, then never see it again. But one thing I do know is, for a successfully gambler it helps if you’re lucky. Levy has mastered the art, or likes to think he has. Van der Vaart is a superb piece of business. He’ll provide vital guile and drive in midfield, plus hopefully the intelligence that was markedly absent on Saturday.  But Levy and Redknapp got lucky with this one. I suspect we had made a few enquiries, as we have for hundreds of players, but this was a late call rather than the product of a systematic pursuit. Levy had a tip-off at 4pm and the deal was wrapped up by 6, or in fact just after but who cares about that, we had (snigger) ‘a problem with our server’, apparently.

Granted you make your own luck and Levy’s contacts served him well in this case. More importantly, we had the cash to put on the table. If we had had to go through the rigmarole of loans and staggered payments this thing would not have gone ahead, and that’s good finances. But in the end it was his luck that held, not on this occasion his nerve.

23 thoughts on “Look Out, You’ve Been Levyed!

  1. Levy not look so clever when he sold berbatov for an extra few quid on last day with only frazer campbell as replacement

    and have spurs got VDV cos he is a player identified by the manager as a player who will fit into the current team structure or just cos he was 50% off on the last day sale

    if you celebrate spurs being run for the bottom line, good for you

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    • I don’t call £7m a few extra quid. Spurs squeezed £30.5m out of Utd for Berbatov…the player did not want to stay and play. He had to go. We played hard ball and if we had just rolled over, then teams would be screwing us again & again to pinch our best players.

      This summer, with Fergie’s fingers still sore from the burning he got last time, Utd were unable to tempt our top players and Bale & Modric have new 5 year deals!

      This summer we have been teased with deals for Cole & Parker….instead we get Van Der Vaart. A top quality player. One who is prepared to leave Madrid for Spurs, happy to take our pay structure, happy to be here, happy to play for Spurs. Parker doesn’t come close to the quality of VDV and while Cole may share similar skills, but he followed the money.

      You cannot begrudge a bit of luck. Levy’s contacts proved good and he got the deal done in 2 hours…I am sure there are many managers who would have snapped up VDV for £8m, but how many had the contacts or the drive to get the deal through.

      All credit to Levy!

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    • dont be a wally ..wally .berbatov was sold at a high price ………having a class world cup winner in the team lifts the expectations etc……

      clubs in good shape and the squad knows itself…….sandro will also be awesome…..

      great to be a spurs fan…..levy/redknapp make a wise bird

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  2. TBF Levy HAD to get rid of berbatov at that point, he was a negative effect, he could have got shot of him for a fraction of his worth or waited it out for more than his worth. Campbell was never a target for us, a make do at best. It was pretty obvious that we were going to pair up asharvin and pav from the start, a partnership that worked well internationally at that time and just like buying two croatians or two argentinians would bed down quickly with having friends close by. As it happened the selling club didnt accept our 15 million offer demanding much more even though personal terms had been sorted, Arsenal later offered the same amount right at the deadline, doing a levy so to speak.

    While I wont forget how Levy handled the Jol affair, I can’t hold him responsible for either of the above, it was the circumstances he not of his own creation those times

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  3. Wally,Berbatov refused to honour his contract,treated the club and its fans badly and had refused to play.Levy and the manager had few options but to sell him but they extracted the maxiumum amount out of the club that had unsettled him and it is noticable they have not spent big again and are currently in debt to the tune of 700 million.This goes against a club that is currently financially sound,about to build a new stadium in the worst recession in history and i am sure with all the civil engineering companies scrabbling around for a 4oo million stadium contract that Levy will negotiate a good deal for the money,we may not get buy one get one free but i am sure we will get more for our money.I cannot think of a better football club chairman anywhere and he has always backed his managers financially and for a club that has only just made top 4 and champs league Spurs under Levys control have spent some serious money not always wisely but that has to be down to previous managers.As a club we can feel optomistic about the future and sound in the knowledge we are moving in the right direction and i would not swap our situation with Man Utd or Liverpool at present and even Arsenal are feeling the pinch financially and the pressure to hold on to the one or two top quality players they have got.

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  4. Wally by name and nature huh. This day and age mate if you dont celebrate the fact that your club is on a firm financial footing then you very soon may find you dont have a club to support at all. In 3 seasons, when FIFA’s,UEFA’s & EPL’s new financial rules come into force then huge wages and transfer fees will be curtailed massively and clubs that are well run with a solid wage structure such as spurs, villa & gooners etc will be well placed. Teams relying solely on a sugar daddy like citeh will have to rethink their whole policy. So YES I do celebrate the fact that we have one of the most astute chairmen in the game and I celebrate the fact that he has always been aware of the bottom line mate cos in the long term we will be a lot stronger for it.

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  5. Did we not get Palychenko as the replacement for Berbatov? Again, I would not say this has proved that successful, but he was a relatively big name signing and is very popular with some sections of our fan base.

    Also, of course we did not get VdV because he was cut price! We have been strongly linked with a number of midfield players all summer, one of which being Parker – we wanted him because of his experience and his ability to get forward and support the forwards, pitching in with a few goals, and providing strength when defending – or Cole, and his ability to unpick a determined defence (Wigan) – is this not what VdV does but a lot better?! He has scored a lot of goals, provides a lot of assists, tracks back well, and has experience at the highest level. Therefore he is absolutely what we want and I for one say well done to both Levy and Redknapp, whether it was last minute or a slow methodical chase all summer (or even from last year when we made an enquiry).

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  6. bonse :
    TBF Levy HAD to get rid of berbatov at that point,

    That’s not really the issue there. We did look stupid coming away with some below average Man U player chucked in with the deal. No problem with the way Levy played Man U but not finding a replacement first and then taking Campbell was very embarrassing.

    As for not needing VDV, we were trying to sign Cole but ended up with VDV. I am happy with that.

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  7. I have been on a similar journey in terms of Levy. VdV is a hell of a bit of business. He is the player Joe Cole might have been had he VDV’s football intelligence or been brought up through the Dutch system. No doubt these are related. Then J Cole might hae spent his career in the middle of the pitch not have had to spend most of his top level life wide left.

    I am very excited. I can see Harry having little option but to change the formation more often to extract the most out of our midfield strength compared to our forward strength. I believe this to be a good thing. 4-4-2 is likely to leave us very exposed in central midfield against good sides.

    I most wanted a fast forward that could play on his own up front if needed, but such players cost a fortune it seems. I hear Zarate was being pushed at us for 20 million. Madness. VDV a world class attacking midfielder that scores a lot of goals (we are not blessed with lots of goals from midfield) is the next best thing.

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  8. Didn’t we buy Berby for about 10.9 mill? Selling a player who doesn’t want to play for us for 20 odd million profit is in my books good business. As for Frazier Campbell to be fair at the the time he was supposed to be an up and coming player and it seemed like a good deal. The fact he hasn’t amounted to much is probably due to management styles and playing opportunities. Look at Bale, he played 24 games for us before he came good, now he is world class. I remember Henry’s first season at Arsenal was crap but his second season he was amazing. sometimes it takes players a long time to adjust and I don’t think Frazier Campbell was ever given a proper chance. Pav is another one who I think has taken a while to adjust and I think he’s very close to coming VERY GOOD!

    otherwise I enjoyed the article COYS

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  9. Regarding the Fraizer deal, you need to remember that Keane also forced a move out of us at the time, leaving us only Bent as a recognised goal scorer. Pav had yet to play for us. As someone else pointed out, Fraizer was recognised as an up and coming player, the fact that he failed to improve under us is unfortunate. If you watch him now at Sunderland, he has become a one-trick pony who spends most of his time leaning into players to try and con the ref for a penalty.

    Excellent article. At the risk of being lynched, I would like to compare Levy to Sugar who had a similar philosophy about the club being run as a business. Somehow or other, he did not have the luck of Levy, and when he sacked Jol after two fifth places, I as praying for the return of Amstrad man. I also wasn’t impressed when he brought in HR, who had done nothing as a manager other than one FA Cup win. There are times in life when it is a joy to admit “I WAS WRONG”.

    Nevertheless, I think about that 15 years in the wilderness from the time Sugar and El Tel had their problems, when we were treated to a sucession of managerial messiahs, who usually turned out to be false prophets, and wonder what might have been. Had El Tel and Amstrad man not fallen out, we might well be singing Sugar’s praises now, and may never have heard of Daniel Levy. WE only started cursing him after he sacked Venables, and this was the begining of a long period of mediocrity for us.

    It looked like it was going to be deja vu, when Jol was sacked and replaced by Ramos, but we now have the best Spurs team since El Tel, with the potential to rate alongside the teams of Bill Nicholson. As the writer of the blog points out, Levy quite apart from his business skills, also has his fair share of luck.

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  10. The Berbatov saga aside, Wally makes a couple of valid points. If it weren’t for the last minute ‘marquee’ signing that has obviously appeased the majority of the fans, this transfer window would have been a disaster rather than the massive let down it is.

    VdV is a fantastic signing who will hopefully, and quickly, establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, but however great a player he is, he remains a midfielder, when a striker was the no.1 priority.

    I’d normally agree with you Alan about not paying over the odds on players, but this season should have been an exception. I hope I’m proved wrong by our current strikers and that they score the goals to keep us ‘top 4’, but I can’t help but feel a massive opportunity has been missed.

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  11. Memo to self – write about Levy every week and those comments roll in.

    Good stuff one and all, with poems no less and an embryonic discussion about meter. Not gas.

    Wally makes a decent point – the window was a defective server (it kills me!) away from being pretty poor and it’s a moot point as to the benefits or harm of Levy’s financial caution. This window, as I said, he made a great deal but got lucky.

    RE TMWNN (I once knew what that stands for…), like I said, I am disappointed about the quality of our strikers and the fact that we didn’t sign someone. To me it’s not so much about the amount of money, it’s about value. That’s measured in terms of fee and salary but also ability, length of contract, age of the player and what he brings to the team. I’d have paid over the odds for the mythical centre forward who is pacy, mobile, clever, great finisher and sets up others. So Berbatov coming back for 20m, I would happily pay, although I may be in a minority for that one as he doesn’t fit all the criteria, but there’s no value in a relatively cheap 8 or 10m for Carlton Cole, say.

    And just to be clear, VDV is a superb signing. 4-5-1, eh, TMWNN?

    Regards,

    Al

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  12. A Dutchman by name Van de Vaart,
    At Real could not play a part.
    Our Chairman was quick,
    The deal made to stick
    And personally I can’t wait for him to start.

    Still working on the last line.

    Nice to proved wrong sometimes. First Levy and in my case Harry who continues to surprise.
    The other certain blogwinner is Jenas Alan but that looks like a horse that has run its course.

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  13. Though I´m really glad a player like Van der Vaart has joined Spurs, I think this deal has some issues still covered given the unusual speed it was performed. OK. Granted it was like it was just because Levy is sort of old western cowboy that draws his guns faster than his opponents, but not so fast he would be taken as “coward” or “a novice” in the business.
    Nevertheless, I´m still pondering whether or not VdV wanted to come to White Hart Lane rather than going to Old Trafford. I mean, does he want to perform for Spurs, a very good squad indeed but with lots to prove or wouldn´t he be happier playing for an already established club ?? I´m not making fun os Spurs as I really love the club. It just my mind refuses to accept the easy answers for any subject that might present subtle details as this one.
    As for Levy mastering brinkmanship as he does, though I´m no fan of how football is dealt these days with obscene amounts of money being put on the wire as if they were intended to cement a corporate merger or something , as long as it is today´s current business model, it´s useful and necessary to have him as chairman. At least we are playing “Big Boys Game” with a Fox on board.

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  14. So four games in and no goals for any of our strikers.

    We are the worst in the league for goals scored by our strikers. Even the bottom club strikers score some goals.

    Now in January the whole world will know we are desperate for goals so the price of any striker will be double what it was in the summer.

    Every game Pav plays like he did yesterday knocks a million off his value.

    By the time we have worked out how to score without using the strikers the chances of another CL payday next season will be distant.

    Compare the money that the above costs us with the cost of buying a striker or two in the summer window that just closed.

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