Spurs Future – A Leap Of Faith?

Spurs are interviewing for a manager. It’s hardly a level playing field – not as if the vacancy has been advertised down at the Job Centre. We’ll find out soon enough, next week in all probability but in the meantime we are left to consider the absurdity of the process upon which the short, medium and possibly long-term future of our club depends. The single most significant decision in the life cycle of any football club is based on hearsay, conjecture and rumour. It’s made by people unqualified and ill-equipped to do so who remain at the mercy of forces that have little to do with the matter at hand, leading a disparate group of football players and forming a team challenging at the peak of their sport, the English Premier League.

Years ago I used to work for local authorities in London. In the laudable interests of equal opportunities, job candidates firstly have to respond to a person specification, a series of abilities and attributes that are required to do the job. Demonstrate these and you are shortlisted. Then, each candidate is asked exactly the same set of questions. These responses are scored, winner takes all.

All in the name of fairness, the idea being that you remove any subjectivity or preconceptions on the part of the panel. One council went as far as to prohibit any discussion between panel members until they had given in their scores. In practice it makes it harder to discern the qualities in the best applicants that marks them out as better than the rest. In reality everyone completes the form in the same way, unless they are truly clueless (and it never ceases to amaze me how many experienced professionals don’t get it). Produce what is essentially a list: ‘I have worked with blah blah’, ‘I have experience in the law for blah blah..’ and you’re through.

Not that I’m one to talk. I’m fairly calm, given to careful, thought-out judgements, used to public speaking, but there’s something about an interview that turns us into gibbering wrecks. It’s like an invisible sci-fi operation takes place as you enter the room, removing that part of the brain that allows coherence. I can think of at least three interviews where I left puzzled as to who precisely was present. Certainly wasn’t me. Those things that person was saying, I don’t think that, I think the opposite. I once stumbled over my own name.

The worst was at the end of a good interview. Determined to finish on a high note, I shook the chair’s hand firmly whilst fixing him with a steady grin. Confident, I turned, decisively gripped the door handle and strode straight into the cleaner’s cupboard. The rejection letter arrived the next morning.

My phobias aside, I’d question how effective a method it is of appointing the manager of a Premier League team. You wonder how coaches might fare with some of our standard approaches. “First question, just to settle you down – how do your skills and experience fit this post?”

Scenarios are popular: “You’re a goal down at home to Norwich. They are on top in a game you must win. The opposition manager has outmanoeuvred you, your tactics have failed, the crowd are restless and your striker’s got the hump because he’s discovered the full-back is earning more from his boot contract. What would you do? Use this flip-chart with a football pitch to illustrate your response.”

Not going to happen. Maybe they could try the classic ‘Coffee? OOPS, I seem to have spilt  it on your lap, SILLY ME’ ploy designed to take interviewees out of their comfort zone.

Imagine how Roy Keane’s interview at Ipswich went. “Mr Keane performed more poorly than any of the other candidates. His psychometric testing revealed he was self-centred, unable to communicate with those he considered inferior to the point of borderline psychopath. His unfortunate parting shot of screwing up the test paper and shoving down the throat of the psychologist merely confirmed this.”

“Just what we’re looking for! Sign here.”

No way to run a football club, yet it is no more ridiculous than the process Spurs are currently undertaking. Levy and the board are ‘taking meetings’ with and interviewing a few chosen candidates. I say chosen: Levy’s mobile is presumably burnt out with calls from agents touting their man. There was the lovely story on the night Redknapp’s sacking was announced of Rafa Benitez who cancelled his scheduled appearance on 5Live at the last moment because “something had unexpectedly cropped up.” I think we know the answer to that one. Goodness who is calling Levy – if Sam Allardyce can apply for the Inter Milan job, as supposedly was the case a few years ago, then the Welling United reserve team coach must think he’s in with a chance at Spurs.

These interviews: just what can take place at them to make the difference, to give one top quality candidate the edge over another? Tactics? The board is full of businesspeople more comfortable with balance sheets than a coaching manual. Any advice they take will come from whispers, someone else’s opinion. Anyone with Levy’s ear, in fact, and hardly scientific. Football is what counts but it’s entirely subjective.

The new breed of manager like Rodgers and Martinez are fond of talking about their vision for their clubs. This has value for, with all due respect, sides who are less successful but anyone managing Spurs knows what is expected. What are they going to say? “I’m firmly convinced that the way forward is to overhaul the squad and replace them with hard-running hulks who lump the ball upfield at the earliest possible opportunity in the hope of reaching the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup?”

Also, if the chairman has a vision and appoints his man to see it to fruition, it’s as important for the board to stick to it as the manager. Witness Chels where AVB was asked to do a specific job then sacked when he tried to get on with it.

The people taking this momentous decision are perhaps those least equipped to do so. They will go on advice from others re the football side of things, so let’s hope Levy is talking to the right people. They meet and they get on. Or they don’t. Won’t affect their job prospects. You don’t get the impression that Levy cares overmuch about personal working relationships. He want to get the job done. The characters he’s appointed are very different – Jol v Santini, Ramos v Redknapp. Smacks of blowing with the wind, That the interview process is not helping one bit. Good forward planning would suggest you wouldn’t dismiss your man unless you had a fair idea of a replacement.

My person spec would require someone who could use the current squad as the basis for an attractive passing game, played at a high tempo and could bring in a greater degree of organisation than was the case last season. If that means more caution, so be it.

This blog deliberately leaves to others the analysis of hypothetical scenarios regarding players or, in this case, managers who might or might not be joining us – plenty of that elsewhere on the net, plenty of pondering to be done when they arrive. But AVB has been interviewed by Spurs. He meets the spec on many levels- motivated, encourages decent football, plays to a system, massively over-achieved at a club with finite resources. However, there’s other evidence to hand – dismissed after less than a season at Chelsea, rumblings about alienating players, certainly did not get the best from that squad.

There’s a debate to be had about what happened at the Bridge  – he was fatally undermined by a combination of the owner and senior players in my view – but that’s a debate for another time. My point here is – we don’t know and neither does Levy. In the end, he’s going to take a calculated risk that’s subjective and not fully based on the evidence. In so doing he’s no different from other chairmen from Dover, Darlington to Donesk. It’s part of the crazy world of football, where astute businesspeople like Levy will stake the club’s future on a leap of faith.

18 thoughts on “Spurs Future – A Leap Of Faith?

  1. LOL Alan. I had a very similar interview experience, the difference being that, after the vigorous handshake, I turned, grabbed the doorhandle a bit too enthusiastically and it came off in my hand! I shall never forget the non-plussed look of the interviewer.
    AVB seems to have a touch of the prima donnas about him but there are worse traits I guess. On balance, I’d go with him. Somehow, it jut feels like a good fit. Best wishes.

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  2. “…But AVB has been interviewed by Spurs”. Apparently not due to him being quoted in O Jogo (Portuguese newspaper) as saying “There is nothing, it is all lies.” Flying by the seat of one’s pants is seemingly the scenario DL is now pursuing. Worrying thoughts unless there is indeed ‘a cunning plan’.

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  3. Whatever Levy does this time it has to be a completly different approach than the one he used to select Redcrapp. That was obviously a big mistake. He has to take the potential new managers integrity in to consideration this time.

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  4. You don’t know what the process is that Levy is undertaking: you merely think you might.
    You should know what end result he wants: the best man or team to take the Club’s performances on the pitch to a regularly more successful level than so far has been achieved, using no more than the Club can provide in financial resources, and providing a framework within which this increased success can be maintained and exceeded in the medium to long term.
    Whether the process he undertakes is fair to the likes of you and me is neither here nor there; we are irrelevant. In any event, if anyone wants to apply they are free to do so. There is no need to advertise at the Local Job Centre so that any out-of -work bricklayer can apply. This would be counterproductive from the Club’s point of view, however much it appeals to your warped sense of fairness.
    Mr Levy will be using and will have been using his judgment, and the advice of those with experience and expertise in the area, rather than choosing from a quota of ethnic minorities, one-parent families and one-legged lesbians.
    You state categorically that AVB has been interviewed for the post. Yet no one from the Club, nor AVB, nor anyone representing AVB has stated this to be the case. You presume that there is a formal interview process, but have no way of knowing that this is the case.
    The fact is that the public are completely in the dark about how the recruitment process is being carried out. It is being carried out privately, without public comment. All we know for sure are that there have been denials, including today, it appears, that of AVB, but we have no way of knowing whether even these denials are reliable.
    Discussing the whys and wherefores of potential candidates is all well and good, but criticizing a process you know nothing about, isn’t.

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    • Agree with most of this. Best to wait till the Euros finish and see what happens. Needs to be done pretty sharpish after though so the new man, whoever it is, has a bit of time with the players. Same goes for any new signings, but they’ll probably be last minute as per usual.

      Unless there is anything written with direct quotes from those concerned, anything in the press must be taken with a pinch of salt. Football journalism in the mainstream press has become a joke – a guessing game. In some cases the stuff they’re writing is so wide of the mark, even they (the scribblers) are embarrassed to put their name to it. Step forward the phantom SPORTSMAIL REPORTER.

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  5. How good must a manager be if u have top class players . HJR got canned because he was watching a different game. i am sure there must be a plan in place for a new manager . somebody has been whispering in DL s ear.there are only a few managers that are unapproachable right now.
    let the Euros end and all will be revealed

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  6. The thing that scares me the most about AVB is that his poor man management could destroy the dressing room and ruin the best squad of players at Spurs in many a year. Of course developing young talent is important but let’s not chuck away our present for the sake of an uncertain future. The new man must take a firm but steady hand and maintain as much of our current momentum as possible while identifying and developing talent for the future of the first team. A tactician is all well and good but if he can’t reach the players and have them buy in it isn’t going to amount to anything

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  7. The game of soccer is not only about managers.its more about players , and they dont all have to be star players,they need to be players that give thier all for the team.they need to play for each other & not for thier personal glory. good managers will recognise these players.that is one of the reasons Defoe is not as good as he could be .if i were DL i would take a leap of faith and consider managers like Alan Curbishley,Frank Rijkaard & Laurent Blaunc.

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  8. I agree. Of course it is nice to have quality but commitment toughness and team spirit are valuable, not always things Spurs have had in abundance until lately. Give HR credit, he got the players trying hard for him. That’s why I’d take Moyes if he was available. He will get the most out of his group, and if he’s good enough to be talked of as a successor to SAF why not Spurs?

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  9. levy knows he needs 2 do something better that what he has been and he knows that the fans are guna want something better after redknapp, i personally think after the euros we will appoint a manager and thats when we will start signing players aswel, i dont know what 2 believe from the media and what 2 believe they speak that much crap, all i know is as a spurs fan i wana see the club that i love progressing and moving in2 better things, we missed out on alot last season and 2 finish under the scum when we were better broke my heart.. we need 2 trust him and trust that he has got the perfect candidate i think thats why hes interviewing so many and tbh i dont blame him i dont want any old hand me down manager but the best.. COYS

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  10. Was Harry sacked for footballing reasons? Absolutely not, I think Levy has made a mojor mistake with this sacking. He has now put this neck on the line. If Spurs finish 5th or worse then the knives will be out for Levy as well as the manager he appoints!! COYS

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  11. “– he was fatally undermined by a combination of the owner and senior players in my view”

    I believe that to be the partial truth. I abso;lutely believe that he wasn’t so much undermined ,as what he wanted to do, met with massive disagreement,and was so bad in the players eyes that they REACTED to him,to his ways,to his personality..or should I say lack of,and even though you say it’s a discusssion for another time,I feel it’s an issue for right now.Does anybody really believe that” well he met with such resistance at Chelsea,and was so disliked, but this cannot and will not repeat itself at Spurs or any other club”? because there’s an old saying and it’s 100% true.”Wherever you go…. there you are”..and as far as I’m concerned HE is the problem,and HE won’t have changed in the 3-4 months since he left Chelsea. I see his appointment ,if it does infact happen not so much as a leap of faith,but more akin to a suicide leap.

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    • Iain, to quote you “I abso;lutely believe that he wasn’t so much undermined ,as what he wanted to do, met with massive disagreement,and was so bad in the players eyes that they REACTED to him”
      Do you believe that their REACTION was positve or negative? because if it were the latter then their course of action had to include underminning him.

      You then go to include his ways and personality, excuse me but are they not the the exact ways we go about when trying to undermine someone!

      Oh and have yoou met AVB and had an opportunity to assess his personality in person, cause without such an opportunity how can you make any judgement about his personality, which, even then would only be your truth and others might find him differently.

      The other side of the saying “wherever you go, there you are”. the world as you experience it is just that, your experience, and not anyoneelse’s although we all spend our lives attempting to shore up our judgement by seeking support.

      I don’t know who will be the next manager and I have come to realise that my favoured option is not the be all and end all of anything. I do hope though who ever it is, we supporters can fully support him / her, from the beginning and not let any judgemenrts, experiences or prejudices cloud the already muddy water.

      I also that you do not in any circumstance reach the point where you feel a suicide jump is your only option

      Take care and stay warm. COYS.

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      • My wife said to me not long ago “Oh i see somebody responded to what you wrote about that guy who used to manage Chelsea” I looked,read it,and said to her” you bothered me about that “?
        Keep in mind ,I’m not trying to undermine you by being negative,I’m merely REACTING.

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  12. Mal, you’re doing fine, mate! 🙂 Looking forward to some more positive news, next week, following on Bale’s re-signing, although, that could just be protecting our investment for when/if he does leave, same as with Walker’s re-signing just after the season past. COYS!

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  13. Like 99% of the scribblers, I know little about the Machiavellian workings of Levy’s mind but give him credit where it’s due. His sacking of Harry was not a sudden emotional kneejerk reaction to something that Harry did to piss him off. It was premeditated and part of a bigger plan. Whether we agree with his eventual selection will be another matter but I’m not sure anyone outside his inner circle is truly aware of what’s going on. Anyway, it might be worth your time to assess the sad break-up of the Croatian experiment. Krancjar and Corluka have gone, giving Modric even more reason to pack his bags. It was good, often great, whilst it lasted because when all three were in favour and played, we were treated to some great football along the way. I’ll miss ’em.

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  14. Ashley, this seems to be Levy’s MO if the players’ are loyal pay rise every yr or so, otherwise same money, sold when he can get his price, it will be interesting when the new manager/coach gets in as to who stays and who goes, and who comes in, hopefully all done early, by the by are you going to the game in LA on 7/24??

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