In The End, Levy.

In recent years there has been something about Spurs that causes opinions to become polarised. Harry Redknapp is the prime example of this phenomenon. It seems you can be either a Harry lover or an ‘arry ‘ater, there’s no middle ground. It’s the same for Daniel Levy. No sooner than someone dares to stammer out the merest possibility that there’s both good and bad in his reign at Tottenham, they will be shouted down and cast into one or other of the camps, Levy Luvvers or Levy Loathers. Martin Jol’s time at Spurs provoked a similar split between those who rated his achievements and wanted to give him more time and others who believed he did not have the ability to work at the highest level, although he was never surrounded by the degree of vitriol and bile attached to the Redknapp and Levy debates.

It wasn’t always this way. It makes you long for the good old days when everyone agreed that Graham, Gross and Francis were rubbish. We could all moan together, as one. There was limited acrimony around Hoddle because the realisation that he couldn’t take Spurs to the top was, and still is, mitigated by the fact that he is one of us, the finest Spurs midfielder of modern times. This affection was coupled with the almost desperate hope that he would succeed.

It’s summer and flaming June is named not after the weather but the flaming transfer window with its infernal mix of hope and frustration. We all know that even just a couple of players could enable us to become genuine contenders. The stakes are high but it’s a combustible cocktail, with emotions running high and focussed around Levy’s performance in the market.

This summer has created a new set of divisions, this time between those who frequent social media and those who manage to resist. The mere fact you are reading this blog online and have probably reached it via Newsnow or twitter means that you are in the former group. I think we can all agree it has been a ghastly nightmare, except that at the moment there’s no prospect of waking up and finding it was all a dream. On top of the Bale saga, we also have the bid for Soldado, the mythical striker to lead the chosen people into the promised land, come down to earth in human form. Or was that Benteke? I forget…

If you receive an unsolicited e-mail from a kindly African gentleman congratulating you on your lottery win or cutting you and you alone in on a cast-iron business deal, it’s safe to say that you don’t immediately forward your bank details as requested. So why then believe anything that an ITK says on twitter or on a messageboard. It’s just as unverifiable, yet by rapid repetition it becomes ‘fact’. Lies, misdirection, absurd over-interpretation, there’s no escape. I yearn for predictable tabloid sensationalism in the red tops and on Talksport. You know where you are with that muck. Those of you without a twitter account have missed the endless lengthy debates on the significance of Bale’s picture on the cover of FIFA 14, Soldado’s picture on the club website or the arrival of a Spurs player (Bale) at the training ground of the club he plays for.

As in previous seasons I have sworn not to get into this debate, a sort of evil footballing Seinfeld, famously the sitcom about nothing. However, bloggers write and my pages are empty. Check out Spooky’s excellent series of articles on Dear Mr Levy, a perfect take-down of the whole sorry mess in all its gory detail. The level of expressed anger does worry me. I see perfectly well the reasons for discussion and disagreement, especially in the light of Levy’s record in the market. I am not in favour of him being a spendthrift but he’s failed to bring in those couple of players that could have made (and could still make) a huge difference.

However, the way this debate has been carried on it’s set Spur against Spur. My fear is that this is a consequence of success in the modern era. Demands are stratospheric, competition has never been fiercer and it is instant gratification or nothing. I don’t want us to be like that. We’re different, better.

I don’t want us to spout the vainglorious entitlement that characterises the world-view of any Ch**sea fan who began to support the club since Roman took over, people saying they have washed their hands of the club because we’ve finished fifth and something might, repeat might, happen in the market.

The reality is more basic and familiar, which I suspect readers not hotwired to twitter might better grasp. Step away from the 140 characters, deep breath and this is what I see.

Much of what is going on in this window is normal and unavoidable. We may not like it but that’s the way it is. The most significant change is a positive one: Daniel Levy is backing his manager. Over the last year I’ve criticised Levy for not spending big to buy top quality players at market prices. I admire his prudence but felt he missed a golden opportunity last summer to invest in the team. If it’s money he’s after, the CL could have brought it. Also, with all the top earners like King and Keane having left, he had the freedom to raise the self-imposed salary cap without upsetting the good atmosphere in the squad or destroying the club’s hard-won financial stability. Yet at that crucial moment, he took the risk on Villas-Boas then adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach, in particular cruelly denying him Moutinho, AVB’s man. Our Andre has far exceeded expectations so now at last Levy is getting to work. It remains to be seen if it is too late but the support is there.

The other point I always trot out during windows is that we have competitors. Good players, especially strikers, are popular. Supply is short, demand high. I would have liked to have got the squad sorted for pre-season but these days that is impossible unless you are Manchester City who can pay what they like and chuck their bank statement in the bin without opening it. Arsenal, United, not even Chelsea have got anywhere near concluding their business.

We are no different. Shame but that’s the way it is. This isn’t Football Manager. You don’t put in a bid, have it accepted and fly home with the player. It’s a tortuous and lengthy negotiation, further complicated these days by third-party agreements, medicals and agents’ fees. If we come in with a bid, any self-respecting agent is going to tell his guy to hang on a bit and see who else might be interested. Look at Huigain: Arsenal were ready to spend over £20m, it all looked done and dusted then Napoli trumped the offer by ten or twelve million. The agent takes his cut but the Argentinian and Madrid are delighted they waited. It takes time. At least Levy has put good money on the table.

Bale has only ever been about one thing – Daniel Levy. Doesn’t matter what agents, Real Madrid, Marca say. £60m, £70m, £80m, £85m: hot air. Bid or no bid: irrelevant, we know Real want him. Doesn’t matter if Bale makes a statement or stays silent: agents, managers, chairmen and players misdirect and mislead. Statements can be retracted. We know he’s tempted and frankly who wouldn’t be, but in the end, Levy.

If by this time you are remotely interested, I would keep Bale, at least for another season. Don’t sell your best players. Always been that way, always will, this is no different whatever cash is on the table. If we had the money, we would still have to spend it. We need to avoid the slow starts of recent seasons and get going from the kick-off at Palace and this would delay team-building for another year.

Finally, Bale is no different from any world-class footballer. Transfer gossip will dog his entire career from now on. I intensely dislike the income-generating fabrication and sensationalism that surrounds all this but even without that it would still be in the papers because it’s a real story. One of the world’s best clubs is interested in one of the world’s best players. Unavoidable, especially as he plays for a team outside the Champions League. Even that would make little difference, given his age and that talent. There was talk of PSG putting in a bid for Messi, for goodness sake. Don’t like but that’s the way of the world. It’s in the papers because it is a real story.

24 thoughts on “In The End, Levy.

  1. Alan.
    As ever, reasoned and unequivocal… if a little depressing – given the way things look.

    Do you believe Spurs have adequate intelligence gathering sources, actively engaged where it matters… or are they just, like you and me, scouring the web. For an outfit of this size and value… I just hope not – but I remain to be convinced given the record of Levy’s regnum. Alas, Jerusalem, alas!

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    • Spurs rely on what used to be called their scouts because we have to find talent on the rise before they go to one of the top european clubs. We have been reasonably successful in that respect. Failures yes, but Bale, Modric, Berbatov, Sandro, Paulinho, Vertonghen, Lennon – in our desperation to put a top team together we forget our record in this respect. The problem has been Levy’s reluctance to add the one or two high class, established and therefore expensive signings to finish the team building off.

      My article should have mentioned Baldini, perhaps the best summer signing of all. In the end, Levy – he has to spend.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  2. Could not agree more. As one of the former, I find the use of NewsNow as one of entertainment than that of the be all and end all of transfer relations. However, I still struggle to anticipate the amount of fans, year in year out, that take the dribble ‘established’ media outlets such as the Daily Mail churn out to be fact. Great article, keep them coming. I hope this enlightens the masses.

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    • Thanks. The papers in my lifetime anyway were always full of rumour and gossip. Several things have changed. Social media means there is an ongoing debate (as opposed to fans treating it with a pinch of salt) and also the media feed off each other. Someone makes something up and the more established media go along with it, treating it as a source and giving it credence it doesn’t deserve. The papers want to make money and so do many sites who depends on the number of visits.

      Regards, Al

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  3. “It’s a tortuous and lengthy negotiation..”
    Only when Levy gets involved.

    Make as many excuses as you like, but it’s not complicated, stump up the cash and the player is yours. Not straight away of course, but it doesn’t take a number of seasons.

    You can’t keep charging the second highest price for tickets in the country and not perform in the market. No wonder people are getting tired of ENIC/Levy.

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    • Don’t quite agree. For the quality of players we need, who are in demand, it takes time. Spending big isn’t the same as being shafted. But as I’ve said, I think Levy has got the balance wrong, especially last summer but in several windows before that.

      Regards, Al

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  4. Greetings Alan
    Its good to see you back with your usual pithy comments. It makes me feel as if the close season never existed.

    I say sell the Baler for £100 million. That way Mr Levy can afford to knock £500 a year off the price of every season ticket for the next 6 seasons and still have £10 million left over to buy a sub standard replacement.

    All in favour say WOOHOO

    Regards

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    • Thanks Steve. I’ve never gone anywhere, it’s just that if I stick to not commenting on transfer rumours, there’s been nothing to write about!

      Inventive use of the club’s cash. May I humbly suggest that we keep Bale and reduce ticket prices because of the pots of money WE HAVE ALREADY GOT.

      Regards, Al

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  5. I think the real division occurred when the talk of moving to Stratford gathered pace. That tore the fanbase asunder.

    I openly called the people that couldn’t see the benefit ‘short-sighted thick fucks’. Hard to sit next to someone after that…

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    • Hmm, you seemed to have burned your bridges there…

      I could have mentioned that, divisions there too but I don’t sense that has left a lasting scar. As someone who wanted to stay in N17, I hereby absolve you of all blame and forgive your blaspheming words. So tell the person next to you that everything is OK now, Tottenham On My Mind says so…;)

      Regards, Al

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  6. Owing to all the debate regarding our star man’s possible departure, I had overlooked the fact that the League one and Championship sides begin there campaigns this coming weekend.
    It’s noticable that none of their supporters take the trouble to phone Talksport e.t.c. regarding the transfer wrangles of the so called bigger clubs.
    Why? Because they’re not interested. It’s dare I say it,boring.
    Yes it’s a big story but this has become almost masochoistic, the more we know the less we understand. ” He’s a nice lad but he’s a commodity and Levy is Fagin with Tottenham at heart.”
    We all know Keith Burkinshaw’s reaction to Tottenham being floated on the stock market and right now those words are ringing in my ears.
    I wouldn’t insult anybody’s intelegence by suggesting that I would gladly swap places with a Forest or Blackburn supporter, in most cases I’m sure that they aspire to be where we are, and would possibly welcome the baggage that goes with it.
    But I do feel like some middle class parvenu who occassionaly takes a drive through his old working class stamping ground and actually yearns for the life that he was so eager to leave behind when I look at the lower leagues.
    We were privileged to have Gareth Bale, I wish him well and look forward to a new season with new names and new stars.
    The problem is that I can’t help thinking that there used to be a football club here?

    p.s. Nice well balanced article as usual, glad your back.

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    • Nice post and I know what you mean about the old days, that seemed less complicated. I know many fans who still support their big club but are increasingly drawn to lower and non-league football because of that.

      Re the Bale story, another scenario is that Our Gareth may well be a nice lad (from a few people I have spoken to who know him a little, he is exactly that). However, he’s the one who wants to go, or his agent wants a move. Levy not the villan in this case.

      Re Spurs PLC, I agree to a large extent. However, I don’t believe the distance fans feel from Spurs and other Prem clubs is an inevitable consequence of modern football. There are plenty of ways the club could be run as a business without alienating supporters, it’s just that they choose not to.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  7. How do you become a Football journalist! All the candidates turn up late for the interview and the one
    who comes up with the biggest load of Bol***ks for an excuse, gets the job!!

    I hope and dare I say, am convinced, DL will come up with a deal/package that will see GB remain at The Lane
    throughout the 2013/14 season! And it may look like this………………………

    Bale extends his current deal by 12 months, 48 in all. For the next 12 months, that will be worth 200k per week!
    Three new additions, would command that! A 61 million£ buy clause is put i place commencing from the Summer
    of 2014! He and his agent are no worse off financially for 12 months!

    With Bale our chances of qualifying for CL Football, for me increase 10 fold! We achieve this, we now attract CL
    quality and ha had a season to prepare for the departure of GB! Plus reap the financial benefits of keeping GB
    for another season and of course CL Money!

    Madrid get their man for 20-30mill less and we get to be the first to negotiate, with in reason, any Madrid player
    that takes our fancy, with minor objection from Madrid!

    Am I deluded Alan!!

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    • Seems a perfectly reasonable suggestion to me, which means that almost certainly it won’t happen.

      I said at the end of last season that with a contract hike plus advertising and image rights, Bale would be extremely well off, stay for a season, thus giving us the chance for glory and CL qualification, then we can see what happens. Most probably we would sell, although that is not inevitable, and we would as you say have money for the team and the bonus of CL to attract top class talent. I agree – it works for me.

      The problem is these pesky journos. Peddling more rubbish than the Royal Tunbridge Wells Waste Transfer Site (my council dump de jour), nevertheless the articles over the weekend clearly had a stand-up source, or rather a source that stands up, to distinguish it from a comedian. Maybe I was right the first time. Anyway, the Guardian had been briefed by Bale’s agent so to my mind there is some truth in the statement that he wants to leave. It may not be the whole truth but the Madrid interest is not fiction, although I suspect the size of the fee is.

      Dan Levy has obviously got wind of your cunning plan – today’s Guardian reckons he will sell for cash plus a young striker. Trouble is, that is this year not next, and as I said in the piece, that’s wrong.

      Regards, Al

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  8. Always a good and “Real” read Alan 🙂
    I think the key point like you say is that all the comments / talk are about fees, wages, endorsements and “being IN the Champions League” – have you noticed nobody ever refers to winning it?

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  9. Greetings Alan. “It’s not such a bad option to stay and become the best player in your club’s history.” Wonderful quote from Le Tiss and how naive I was to think that Bale had a real sense of what it means to be a club legend, to accrue the Carragher, Giggs, Le Tiss, Perryman’esque statistics that say as much, if not more than any words ever can.
    Until quite recently, even a week or two ago, I really believed that this grounded, self-effacing, young man was a cut above the rest. And yet, I appear to have been wrong. How long ago the tear-inducing run into AVB’s arms at West Ham now seems.
    Once I saw who Gareth’s agent was I began to fear the worst and my concerns were further hardened when the lad reportedly wanted to patent his heart sign. Gareth and rapacity somehow didn’t go together but now there was evidence to the contrary.
    I am sure there are many of us who feel like we’ve been jilted at the altar but life goes on, right? Let’s dust ourselves down, and look forward to a better balanced, and pretty tasty squad, with no obvious weaknesses.

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  10. Thanks Alan, I am amazed at what we supporters are willing to believe. However reading between the lies, (n) missed on purpose.

    I think that we have not recieved a formal bid.
    That someone close to GB wants him out of Spurs.
    Levy does not take to being bullied.
    AVB is a man of the highest character.
    Madrid are broke with debts of around 600million Euros.
    If a deal is brokered, and it is still a big IF, I see Levy, Lewis and enic doing some legal business especially around the the FFP of Uefa.
    That said i have no notion as to whether Bale will stay!

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  11. Try not to read too much of the blather during the transfer window, a pity it overlaps with the start of the season a recipe for disruption if ever there was one. But make an exception for you Alan. No that’s come out all wrong. TOMM is not blather; it’s the exception. Truly.
    We don’t blog much over at the Musings until actual football happens but have to admit that the quality of the signings so far is pretty good, especially Soldado and all done without paying top whack and no CL either.
    Does quality attract quality?, is it Baldini? Has Uncle Joe found some loose change down the back of the sofa? Is it all predicated on the sale of our Gareth? Will the quality of the newcomers tempt Bale to stay? Or has that boat sailed. Definative answers required Alan.

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    • Thanks Jim, know just what you mean as I keep quiet too. Makes for a blank blog, mind.
      Ok – 1. Yes, Spurs have a decent rep but that counts for nothing if CL club comes in. Reckon we have raised our salary cap
      2. Yes- DoF, scouts, whatevr – he knows the market and where value can be found.
      3. Sort of – reckon Levy may have budgeted for this without Bale’s sale. Worth the risk – see latest post
      4. See 3.
      5. no – it’s down to levy as to whether he holds him to at least one more year of contract, I think Bale is tempted by move, and who wouldn’t be.
      6. Will pop down to the Thames tomorrow to check.

      Good to hear from you Jim, keep up the good work.

      Regards,

      Alan

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