The Transfer Pantomime. This Is Where I Came In

When I was a kid, we didn’t have much time for going out as a family. My dad had a small shop that was open 12 hours a day, every day except Sunday when he closed at 2. Sometimes for a treat he’d shut a few minutes early, scrawl a hurried apology on a paper bag that he would sellotape to the glass shop door and we would escape for a few precious hours. The favourite was a trip up west. The Central Line still has a touch of magic for me, a sentiment not shared by commuters, but in half an hour it took me to the centre of the capital. Window shopping around Marble Arch, egg and chips at Lyons Corner House (a man of simple tastes, my dad) followed by the Jacey cartoon cinema.

In those days there were a few cartoon cinemas in town. My love for Tom and Jerry, Tex Avery and the Warner stable is with me still and the Looney Tunes music has a special resonance. Interspersed with newsreels, the programme ran on a loop for an hour or so. You could come in and leave at any time and remain as long as you liked but usually you left when your first cartoon came round again. This is where I came in.

My Seat (some bloke got in the way of the pic)

I’ve taken a break from the blog for a few weeks. Not sure why, if truth be told. Haven’t been away although I have been infernally busy at home and at work. Pointless really: I’m constantly drafting articles in my head, for Tottenham is genuinely always on my mind. A lot has happened in that time, mostly to do with Luka Modric, or maybe nothing has happened whatsoever. To put fingertip to keyboard at this moment is pretty pointless too (as if the rest of this guff has some significance…) because take an overview and nothing’s changed. It’s fun but I’m not sitting through this for a second time.

The media have lapped it up, not just a transfer story in a relatively dull close season but a veritable saga. Modric wants to go. Levy says no. Modric says OK, then it’s not OK. Levy still says no. Modric says Levy is not a very nice man. Levy doesn’t care.

A bit of knockabout fun but it’s no different from the situation I predicted a couple of months ago now. Because Luka Modric is the best midfielder outside the top four, there will be an auction for his services involving Chelsea and Manchester United. I doff my stylishly battered straw pork pie hat to the brave souls who saw Luka’s interview in a Croatian paper on Sunday morning and hit Google translation around the time I was staggering around trying to wake up and kvetching about another bloody weekend of DIY. However, the only surprise is that other top European clubs have not expressed a stronger interest. The key has always been Daniel Levy. He wants to build a top class team but he knows the price of everything. Whatever his protestations to the contrary, he may be tempted to sell. Nothing has changed.

The comedy dialogue that characterises the contemporary transfer pantomime is in full swing. Luka’s scriptwriter, presumably his agent, has gone for audience but his man emerges as the villain of the piece, a guise unbefitting a maestro who has has graced the Lane for the past few seasons. In the process he’s managed to alienate large sections of Spurs fans: if a relationship turns sour, dump before you get dumped. But it’s all the same. Leverage in the negotiations and a message to Chelsea to keep bidding. If it works, fine, if not, there’s a fat 6 year contract at Spurs to cushion the blow with the distinct chance that we will up his salary again.

Hello Roman? Roman? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Roman? Yes, I'm sorry too..

My position hasn’t changed one jot either. Keep him at all costs. This is a watershed season for Tottenham Hotspur. If we graft a few quality players, strikers first and foremost, onto the existing squad we are ready to take on all comers, now and in the years to come. Modric, Bale, Sandro, riches beyond my dreams.

Modric’s recent comments don’t alter that view. He should show some loyalty, and also it may further his career to stay at Spurs where he will be the star rather than face the highly critical Chelsea support. However much as we don’t like it, the attraction of double the salary plus the CL would give anyone second thoughts. Also, as we have a pop at him, we have no problem luring away the best players from other teams. If Samba, today’s alleged top target, wants to come here, we won’t berate him for his lack of loyalty to Blackburn, the team who took him from relative obscurity. If he says he’s always wanted to join Spurs, that’s not true, now is it? The tired and stilted script of the transfer pantomime.

Forget the statements and media bluster. Instead look out for these two things that really matter. One, Modric. Professionals have a different attitude to this football business compared with the supporters. If he stays, as I desperately hope he does, it’s about how he performs. I reckon the professional in him will buckle down and give his utmost. That’s what being a professional means. So I’m not joining this wave of villification because I’d rather judge him on how well he does against that benchmark, nothing else, certainly not the rubbish from his agent.

Secondly, this has turned into a test of Daniel Levy’s integrity. Boldly and bravely, he has made a clear, unequivocal statement: we are not selling our best players. He has my wholehearted support. He too will be tempted by the money, so judge him on how well he resists. If he goes back on his word, his reputation will be shot to pieces. We won’t take a blind bit of notice of anything he utters, ever again. Perhaps the stakes are highest for our chairman rather than any of his players.

20 thoughts on “The Transfer Pantomime. This Is Where I Came In

  1. I’ve been truly shocked at the abuse Modric has received. He done nothing any one of us wouldn’t have done in the same situation. The only thing he’s said which was out of order was describing Chelsea as a bigger club because other than their Russian millions, championship titles, Champions League status, wages paid…….mmmm, I’m not making a very good point am I? Unfortunately, the truth hurts like a bitch. At this present time Chelsea are bigger than Spurs. They’ve got a far inferior history and fan base etc but any footballer at the moment would put Chelsea above Spurs.

    I’d like to think he’ll stay one more season and see what we can do but given the obvious lack of ambition from Spurs in the last 3-4 transfer windows (breaking even) I’m not surprised he wants out and I wouldn’t expect it to be too long before others are asking the same question and saying the same things.

    Over to you Mr Levy – open that cheque book and buy well.

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    • I didn’t read your whole reply… but you can hardly be shocked. He stated he wasn’t interested in moving one year ago when he commited himself to the cause for another 6 years. Also, and more to the point, when you love someone and they slap you in the face your response tends to be one of bitterness… your girlfriend dumps you? it’s obviously cos she’s a bitch and nothing to do with you being an arsehole… Modric leaves us, it’s because he’s a disloyal, lying, cu** erm, sorry toerag. it’s emotional, not logical responses that are shown here!

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      • Maybe you should’ve read the entire 10 lines. The reason I’ve been shocked is because of the normal hot headed, low IQ response from most fans. It’s the chairman we should be looking at and wondering why we’ve not consolidated our position last summer. Why have the purse strings been tightly drawn closed for the past few windows?

        The fact we’ve spent £15-20m on the OS bid and appeal will probably have something to do with it as well as ENIC no longer wanting to spend vast amounts of cash, after all they’re an investment company and want money back.

        Believing everything the red tops say and looking at things in a one dimensional way has meant most of us have completely missed the point here. Modric wants to leave because 1) he’ll get more money and 2) because he can see very clearly we’re lacking the ambition to really challenge for top honours.

        vdV, Bale and maybe others will be the same next summer too if something doesn’t change. I’m not a fan of Harry talking all the time but it’s no surprise why he’s constantly discussing the need to add quality to the squad and that is the board want to remain towards the top they’re going to have to spend money. He know’s he’s not got much if any money to spend and he’s trying to get that fact into the public domain.

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        • Stop defending the indefensible you gloryhunter supporter. Only morons want Chelsea and Man Utd to have all the top players

          Thankfully the 25 man squad rule will put paid to lazy bastards like Modric who are all too happy to sit on the bench at the Chelseas and Man Utds while others do all the work and qualify for the CL every season instead of putting effort in at the other clubs.

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          • I can’t quite work out what that means? How did you get “glory hunter supporter” from what I wrote? Where does it say anywhere that I want Chelsea and United to have all the top players?

            Also how will the 25 man squad have any effect whatsoever? Every club has players who are willing to sit on the bench for their pay. Jenas being the example at Spurs but there are many more.

            The point being, football is now run by money whether we like it or not. Personally, this season will be the first I don’t attend 15+ games in a season but that’s mainly down to family commitments but also because it’s now getting too expensive. The reason for this is because players demand more and more money. No player is different than any other. Is it right that Ledley King is our highest earner and yet we can’t guarantee he’ll play even half the games?

            The reason Modric wants out, if in fact he does, is because he can see the club hasn’t improved on the playing squad in the last 18months with the exception of a last minute purchase of van der Vaart who was given to us more than us getting him. There’s something not right at the club at the moment, whether that be the board spending a vast amount of money on legal fee’s or ENIC deciding it’s time to start recouping some of their investment or even just saving in preparation for a new stadium, but we’re not spending and therefore we’re not showing ambition. If I was a player at Spurs at the moment I’d be asking the same questions. Can I win trophies here? Can I get more money elsewhere? The answers would be no and yes so the simple thing to do would be to request a move.

            Modric isn’t the first and he won’t be the last unless we do something about it. Whether that’s buy players or increase the salary cap slightly. Not to the stupid levels we see at other clubs but judging by our annual reports we could push to £100k per week which would keep current players happy and attract new ones. If we don’t invest then don’t expect to stay top 4 or keep our best players. It’s as simple as that. Sadly.

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  2. My main beef is that Modric, Bale etc could be playing CL football if they’d beaten more of the bottom half teams. Modric was our best player last year but he wasn’t perfect either. He had some less than stellar games as well and a few more goals from him would’ve helped the cause.
    The inability to sign a striker (in two transfer windows) is a black mark against Levy but CL football was well within the capabilities of that squad.

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  3. Im not really sure why breaking even is a bad thing! Spurs spend within their means which is commendable, when the new financial rules come in and we aren’t docked points by the dozen (Citeh, Chealsea, Man U etc are going to be Shafted) Levy will be seen as the sensible business man he is. The current way of spending fortunes and paying huge wages is totally unsustainable and creates an elite section that can’t be touched E.G. the top 4 (with the possible exception of Ars*nal). In 3 years time the whole premier league will look completely different with the likes of Sunderland etc who spend wisely as the new elite clubs. Hopefully this will then make a league based on footballing ability and team spirit rather than the greedy pay culture we have now.

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  4. Excellent piece. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the two things that really matter. The rest is, as you rightly say, pantomime. The only thing I would add is that I wish Harry would just shut up on the matter rather than adding his two cents at every opportunity. It really can’t help Levy or Modric by continuously exalting Chelsea and how great it is to play for them.

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  5. Agree Peter – we had a run of games towards the end of the season against all the bottom sides, Wolves, WHU, WBA, Wigan, Blackpool etc and handed out points like confetti. Another 10 points and we would not be having this debate.

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  6. Good to see you back, Alan…. sanity at last. Roll on the new Season and lets hope we get back on an even keel with our best players still on board and a couple of decent strikers brought in.

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  7. It’s sad that we’ve reached this point with Modric, but it was only a matter of time especially without CL qualification. The boys is brilliant and one of the most consistent players we have had in a long time. What I didn’t appreciate (and that’s IF there was any truth behind it) was Modric laying out our dirty laundry to the Croatian press. Again, I’m not sure if there’s any truth behind it, but still I would have expected a more professional approach from him. Let’s not forget he’s only 25.

    On another note, anyone know more about the Ceballos kid?

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  8. As much as I want Levy to keep his word “Not For Sale At Any Price” there is a bigger problem on the horizon. He has obviously alienated the fans and how do the rest of the team feel about training or even playing with him. Levy cannot allow him to become a disruptive influence on the rest of the team.
    We are not wealthy enough to just “let him rot in the reserves”, and ignore his true monetary value.
    Unfortunately player power will again prevail, but at least let Levy set the terms ie realistic transfer fee somewhere between £40-50m and maybe a player that would benefit us. Demand that Modric submit a formal transfer request, (that will cost him) and not to one of our main rivals.
    With regard to the “alleged gentleman’s agreement”
    I reminded the chairman of our gentleman’s agreement when we were in Dubrovnik last summer and I agreed a contract extension, at that time, I had an open chat with Levy – that if a bigger club came in with a concrete offer, we would consider it and agree the best solution for all concerned.
    The key part of this “gentleman’s agreement” if it did in fact even exist is “agree the best solution for ALL CONCERNED”.Modric obviously needs an interpreter to understand what this means. It doesn’t mean what is best for ME !
    The only time a player is interested in honouring their contracts is when they are injured!
    I for one will not hold it against Levy if he backtracked now under the circumstances as he has to make a decision that will be best for Tottenham Hotspur football club, including the proving of tapping up by Chelsea.

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    • Concerning the gentlemen’s agreement, agreed; the whole idea of these long term contracts is to ensure maximum dollar for the player concerned because it gives the club a strong hand around the negotiating table doesn’t it?. For the first three years or so the prospect of a free transfer isn’t on the horizon so the club can play hard ball during negotiations. (Take Cristiano Ronaldo at Man U, a bigger club and a bigger player I know, but Man. U didn’t need to sell so Real. M threw 80 mill at them.) Spurs’ whole ‘were not interested in selling’ stance gets potential suitors to start getting serious with the big money offers (in theory at least)

      Now Modric surely knew this when he signed this 6 year contract last summer, if this gentlemen’s agreement meant understanding that the interests of Modric were playing in the Champs. League, then the interests of Spurs were getting the appropriate sort of money as for recompense for loosing such an obviously talented player with yet some further potential and having to replace him which in these financial times means pretty much 45 plus mill; so why Modric (or his agent more likely, I expect) is rocking the boat when such paltry offers of less than 30 mill are coming in, I don’t know.

      I am confident that spurs will not give in to Chelsea or anyone else unless they get some very good money because they know that even in these days of player power asking for one more season out of a player with the length of Modric’s AND Bale’s contracts after only one season of Champs. League qualification failure is very reasonable and both players are professional enough to grit their teeth, keep their mouth’s shut and put in a shift for another season. God help us if we fail to qualify next season though, we’ll become an Aston Villa/Everton club for the foreseeable future at least until the financial fair play rules start taking effect anyway. That said, I still think top 4 is possible next season, regardless of who we bring in.

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  9. I’m not sure all the blame can be laid at Modric’s agent’s door. Modric is quoted at length as very clearly wanting to go and wanting to go to Chelsea. I agree that we sign players from presumed less weighty clubs when we want and that Chelsea wanting Modric is the other side of this coin. That’s the way of the world of course. It hurts more that he wants to leave us for a club with whom we have a long and often bitter rivalry, on and off the pitch.

    I am not party to the talks of course and like the rest of you can only go on what is reported. However, I am convinced that the relationship between Levy and ergo the club and Modric has soured considerably. I think the direct quotes from Modric and his feelings (rightly or wrongly) suggest it won’t be easy for him to give his absolute best for us week in week out unless relations improve considerably. I would have said so previously as he’s been a fantastic player and professional for us, so much so that I simply don’t recognise the fairly bitter and cheesed off Modric in our papers this past month.

    I’m hurting no doubt, especially with the Chelsea angle, but if what we read is true (and I think the direct quotes are telling), I’d rather we sold him for 40 million or so now, but try to offload him to Spain or Italy, hell even Man Utd over Chelsea if he has to go. Morale and togetherness and mental strength are as impt as ability at the level we are aiming for, the margins are slight. If it gets to the stage where he is forced to sit in the stands, all is lost.

    I won’t blame Levy for selling him if things deteriorate as they seem to be.

    I’m all at sea Alan.

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  10. Good article but the reponses make me gurn!
    Sam I Am when did Harry big up Chelsea? do you have your very own Sky Sport world?
    Yes I have heard him talk about triple his money offers but thats been it.
    You know what? I am sick of everybody screwing Harry, FF sake give the guy a chance, he may not be perfect but hes the best we have had for a long time.
    Also I respect the comment about not turning on Luka (my patience is thin at the moment but until Luka is seen live saying this stuff I will hold my thoughts), he is being really badly advised by his agent definitely.
    Lets see what happens in the next panto entitled ‘Out of Africa’.
    Lastly he is good for us but hes not the ultimate player, we as Spurs fans get carried away when we like a player and forget the misplaced passes and lack of goals.
    I guess that means I have lost respect already for him unlike VDV who has been amazing for us and his comments are also uplifting (His wifes a sweetie too).
    We have some great characters in the squad, BAE is a legend for me
    Keep the faith in Levy and Harry, they do it for me!

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  11. Agreed with your sentiments on Modric being a target for the others if no CL. And that people have gone over the top with their judgemental stance on his actions to date.
    Although I’m not exactly happy how he has acted. Just not hopping mad.

    I don’t think our ambition matches his. Levy and Redknapp said things over the last year that made me as a fan doubt our ambitions, I can only imagine that for other clubs and some of our players it did the same.

    I don’t think he will stay, Levy has previous in this, if Modric comes out and hands in a transfer request we cannot do a Man City and over pay him. Or even what Man Utd did with Rooney, we just don’t have that clout.
    1 CL group stages appearance since the competition began puts us up there with Newcastle. Slightly above Everton. Not on the same level as the so called Top4 and now Man City. Liverpool have won the damn thing.

    As Nat put above FFP rules come in soon, my belief is they will affect us more than the Chelsea’s and City’s of this world, look at the recent stadium naming rights for City. A joke, but they will probably get away with it.

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  12. Ambition is far more accessible to a player than it is for a chairman or a manager to realize. How Levy can be the villain and Modric the hero fails me. ‘Of course anyone would do the same’ say’s one Hang on, have you ever seen 45 grand on your table every week? Is there a real world out there somewhere? How can we as a club, Levy as a chairman or Redknapp as a manager, ever attain their dreams, if all it takes is a whiff of the wedge to lure a teams star player away with impunity. The FA,PL,UEFA and FIFA stand by and watch this time and time again, yet do nothing but feather their own nests and bring pointless legislation, that actually benefits the bigger clubs. Take Luca, his agent and Chelsea through the courts and set a precendent. Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea have all had to pay reparation to us in the past, this time make it hurt!

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  13. It is likely Modric will leave, but I suspect it will not be to Chelsea. They would have to double their initial bid to be in the ballpark and unless Spurs are really in a bad financial situation, which we are lead to believe they are not, they will not look at anything less and certainly not with such has beens as Drogba etc. included which Chelsea need to offload.. So it is interesting to ask why has Chelsea made their so called offers public if not to try and exert influence on the player. One side effect of Chelsea’s conduct has been to harden Spurs supporters and management attitudes about dealing with them..
    So where? If Utd sign Schneider then they do not need Modric, although their midfield against Barcelona was so abject they probably need all the help they can get. Then in the UK that leaves Man City, Arsenal and maybe Liverpool. Of these City would be the most likely and the least worst choice, given the Berbatov affair, from Spurs standpoint. Preferably, however, from most supporters perspective a European club would be preferred.

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  14. “This is a watershed season for Tottenham Hotspur.”

    That was last year Alan, but we failed to strengthen, went backwards and lost the great momentum we had built up over the previous two seasons.

    Redknapp is already getting in his excuses for the coming season, and listening to him talk about next season is depressing. Whatever happened to ‘aim high’, or even a simple ‘We’re all looking forward to next season, we’ll do our best and see where we end up’. I don’t want to hear about how great the other teams are.

    “Have you ever seen 45 grand on your table every week?”

    It’s all relative, essexian76. £45k a week is an obscene amount of money to be earning for playing football, but when there are people earning 3 times that for doing the same job just the other side of London, is there really any wonder why his head has been turned?

    “If it works, fine, if not, there’s a fat 6 year contract at Spurs to cushion the blow with the distinct chance that we will up his salary again.”

    If Levy gives Modric a pay rise for effectively calling him a liar, then there really is no hope. Levy’s obviously a smart bloke, but there’s a reason why no other club has left a player to ‘rot’, it does no one any good. This will turn out no different than the Berbatov situation.

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  15. Maybe I’m right maybe not, but I do get a little annoyed when parallels between Berbatov and Modric are used to enforce a perspective. If someone asks me to do something against my will, I’ve a series of choices available. First, what is the best outcome for me and where lies the greatest threat? Then, I ask myself whether I can sleep at night if I allow myself to be steamrollered into backing down or whether there’s a greater good or chance of making my opponent consider that they’ve chosen the wrong guy to challenge. The one thing you’ve not considered or have Chelsea for that matter, is this, Chelsea had been warned and actually prohibited from buying players because of their previous manner in illegally approaching players through their agents without adhering to the correct code of conduct. THFC actually have a very strong case for taking this issue far further and could create a precedence if we remain resolute in our current stance. If we sell, it’ll prove that any club with financial clout, can ride roughshod over whoever they want, including the law! Levy is doing the right thing, for both my club and football, and should stay strong!

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