Spurs: Has Levy Given Pochettino What He Wants?

Discovering the strategy at Spurs is rather like the search for the Lost Ark, an exciting, mysterious and ultimately futile endeavour chasing something that exists only in the minds of hopeful devotees. When it comes to casting Daniel Levy, Harrison Ford is likely to pass on the role of a lifetime.

But like those pilgrims, despite decades of evidence to the contrary the idea provides me with some crumbs of comfort. Supporters all over the world, proud history, multi-million pound business, I cling to the notion that the board have some ideas about where the club is going.

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Not a lot to ask really. Not even mentioned big money signings, top four or, perish the thought, actually winning something. But apparently, it is. I’ve repeatedly returned to this theme throughout the life of Tottenham On My Mind because I’ve never found a satisfactory answer.

This is important for supporters, who will put up with a lot and pay up too if there is something to look forward to, if we are working towards something better than we have at any given moment.

There are variations on this theme. Many would say, with some justification, that Levy doesn’t know what he’s doing, that he takes decisions on the hoof and most of them are lousy. Another suggests Levy does have a plan, it’s just that it’s rubbish. Whatever your refrain, one phrase crops up all the time: “On the cheap…”.

History shows his poor judgement in terms of 2 fundamentals, picking the right manager and supporting him consistently. All this in a context where Levy wants success based on the development of upwardly mobile players, usually bought with some experience and nurtured rather than home-grown, as opposed to investing big money on players. Everyone would agree that whatever he’s up to, it hasn’t worked.

If that’s the plan, fair enough. It underestimates the investment required but the real problem is Levy’s unwillingness to provide the consistency and continuity essential to this strategy. He builds his house then tunnels away at the foundations. As the dust settles on the January transfer window, another strategy emerges from the ruins. The real question is, are Spurs moving in the right direction or is Levy condemned to making the same mistakes?

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The significant signings of this window will appear on the pitch only if Paul Coyte interviews them at half-time. The arrival of Paul Mitchell as talent spotter (he will have some management gibberish title to burnish his CV but that’s what he does) has been followed by Rob McKenzie, a highly regarded youth specialist from Leicester City. Mitchell comes from Southampton and is seen as Pochettino’s choice, the clearest sign yet that the Argentinian is here to stay, at least for a while. Levy’s form with new managers is to wait for them to prove themselves before investing heavily in players, an unhelpfully unsupportive message in my view but Pochettino has been rewarded for keeping his head down and making do with what he’s got.

On his record so far, he deserves that backing. He has done an excellent job to bring on Kane, Mason and Bentaleb and to bring the best from Eriksen. These young players have become leaders, showing the more experienced members of the squad what it takes to be a Spur. In the process, they’ve lifted the fans from early season gloom. Spurs play attractive football with a core of young men from the youth set-up. These are our own and it feels good to be a part of it.

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Without putting a dampener on all this justified optimism, we’ve been here before. Spurs’ history under Levy is best characterised not by our managers, even if we could remember them all there have been so many, but by our Directors of Football. Arnesen began the policy of buying for the future. No matter that we now sneer at the likes of Atouba or Zeigler, they did a job for a while then we gradually upgraded. Also, even if you see them as failures, vitally they didn’t cost much.

Under Comolli, same policy only a notch or three up in class. Modric and Berbatov cost about 16m and 10m respectively but they had room to grow, as did others. And then there was Bale. Shame about Bentley but you can’t have everything.

Baldini used Bale’s cash to buy silk that turned out to be schmutter. Soldado can’t score, Paulinho can’t smile, Lamela a talent still to mature in the PL but at least with him there’s hope. We’ll never have such an opportunity again but he is still around, presumably doing something over than sitting next to Levy in the director’s box. Looking improbably suave is a worthy achievement but not on the job description. Levy allowed Comolli to undermine his manager: on no account should Baldini’s continued presence mean that this will happen again.

To new signing Dele Alli, an apology. He’s already been saddled with the “wonderkid” tag even before he signed. He’s not a superhero. No doubt his failure to leap tall buildings in a single bound will lead him to be labelled a failure after the first pre-season friendly this summer. He’s a highly promising young player who has prospered amidst the hard graft of Division 1 and frankly I’d rather have that than a “wonderkid”, whatever that is. Football is littered with the ghosts of players who were stars at 16. You will recall John Bostock, a fine player at that age who made two mistakes. One, he had an agent at 14, two, he believed the agent’s hype. Don’t read the papers, get kicked around in the mud of the lower leagues and you shall be a man my son.

Edit: since publishing I’ve read Lyall Thomas’s article who notes Mitchell worked with Alli at MK Dons and recommended signing him.

Pochettino’s Spurs are getting a good reputation all of a sudden for bringing on our own. In a competitive market that will count for something. Once again Kane, Mason and Bentaleb show the way. So as supporters, let’s learn from them – give them time and don’t expect too much too soon.

But no new striker. The sword of Damocles hangs over every match. An injury to Kane and we are in deep schtuk. This problem goes way back – the failure over many years to buy quality strikers is scandalous and once again we are left woefully short. January is not the time to buy the right man – this problem should have been fixed in the summer.

As I have said before, hold back on the Adebayor criticism because he has a role to play for us this season. In any event, no excuse in the world for booing him. All this talk of Spurs not selling/loaning to West Ham out of spite is all hot air. Levy was quite right to refuse the deal – why bolster the chances of one of our biggest rivals?

Very best wishes to Aaron Lennon, a player we stole from Leeds. Whatever your opinion of him, he cost £1m and we got some value there. I loved to see his little legs dashing along at high speed. Always saw them as a blur, like the Roadrunner. And oh how he frustrated – if only his final ball could consistently match his pace.

I’ll remember him fondly. A man out of time, he is a winger in an era full of wide men who are multi-skilled, who tackle back, who ‘do a job’. Azza adapted but remained a guy who did just one job well. “Run at ‘em, take them on!”. And in the San Siro for Crouch’s epic winner, Arsenal at home amid delirium, at their place for 4-4, that’s just what he did. Four years on, nobody left from that San Siro team, he was the last. Thank you and good luck.




43 thoughts on “Spurs: Has Levy Given Pochettino What He Wants?

  1. Baldini will be gone soon I think? with Mitchell and this other guy coming in, Levy’s building another pyramid back-room which can only result in one of 2 outcomes-Baldini’s a gonner or at worse, he’ll be our man in Europe? Levy needs to have guys he can trust around him to concentrate on the stadium and Bladini has proved he’s not that man-although not all of his acquisitions have proved to be dud’s to be fair COYS


  2. Although, to all intents and purposes, I must fully agree with your Levy assessment, on thing niggles with me.

    How has a man with such inadequate foresight, strategy development, fleet-footed movement, HR/IR skills, general communication abilities, idiosyncratic decision-making and rank inconsistency (except where saving a few bob this week) survived and prospered in the dog-eat-dog world of big business?

    Why does Uncle Joe down in Nassau, apparently put up with him? Is blood thicker than P&L and balance sheet statements?

    Gawd knows!

    COYS – please do the biz tomorrow afternoon!


      • since the war, I can recall a Bearman, a couple of Wales, a Scholar and a Sugar. Non with the remote possibility of HRH Baron Sugar of Barking Creek with an iota of business nous – and none wit particularly convincing surnames…! Ho hum, la plus ca change, la plus le meme chose!


        • Scholar are you for real? He was the bloke SOLELY responsible for 2 decades of mediocrity through sheer mismanagement and styupidity. It was his leadership that allowed Them over the Road, to widen a small gap into a chasm, as there was nothing but a fag paper before the advent of the PL, and Bearman’s tenure like Wades were a diffrent era and circumstances altogether, even the balls changed in case you hadn’t realised. We’re only in the top 20 European and barely 6th in the list of wealthly clubs but for 10 seasons, we’ve batted above that. so don’t think we’re a hard done by outfit, quite the contrary if you think of how things were under Sugar and those before him, give me Levy and ENIC any day of the week please…Scolar! Geezeeeeus


          • Hi Pete
            I’m so, so sorry. I obviously didn’t make my ramblings clear. Of the suspects’ names I mentioned, perhaps only Baron Sugar seems to have had just the slightest idea what needed doing, and when – and for how much. I appreciate that the messrs Bearman and the flying Wale brothers were only killing time until the golf club bar opened, but, as I dimly recall, your 3.23pm posed: “when there’s been a better chairman than Levy”. I was merely trying to plug a whole lotta holes.

            Do forgive me. And I’m glad I had the CO2 extinguisher handy. Anyway still COYMFS against tomorrow’s toe-rags.

            L+LK (the COYrinthians)


            • Sugar to be fair is undoubtedly a great businessman, but was a poor chairman, with little or no understanding of football-and he did very nicely out of Spurs when selling to ENIC. I really don’t begrudge him anything, as he rescued the club in our hour of need, but couldn’t envisage what it needed to move forward, and if you consider Levy to have made poor managerial appointments, then Lord Sugar’s were catastrophic by comparison. Lord Sugar however you package it, bought into the club to flog Sat-Dishes and nothing else, if he ever developed an affection for it, it was after he bought it, certainly not for buying it.
              ENIC have done wonders with handling the profile, the future and getting us back amongst the big boys, and it’s about time they are recognised for doing so-I know we’ve all got the club’s heart but there are not many clubs below us who wouldn’t swap Levy for their own-ask an Evertonian, Villian or Geordie and see what their views on the man are.It’s been clear, that his PR needs attention. but when you weigh it all up, I think where we are now and where we were in 01, the evidence is overwhelming, Could you predict Man City and Chelsea winning the lottery? No, then why do so many expect DL to have. sorry I know it’s a rant, but I do get annoyed by this Levy baiting, when the guy has the club at heart as we do, and we’ve progressed accordingly and in the only way we can without a mega rich Arab, American consortium or Russian Billionaire, we’re doing this off our own backs with self generated income, which is the right way is it not?



              • Thanks, Pete

                Bit thick this end. Think I missed your point. Give it another shot, if you’ve time and can be bothered…
                Only 12 hours to go. Hope the boys’ ringpieces are more stable than the one below my swede!! COYS


                • You asked why he’s still in charge, well in lay terms -1 He’s chairman of the company that owns the club 2 The bloke that owns the company couldn’t care less about football, Also, you’ve admitted that there have been many incompetent chairman of the club, I’m merely pointing out that ours isnt the villian he made out to be, not fashionable I know, but hey ho


  3. Read the article with great interest, and don’t disagree with one single word. Everything is right about spurs except the class striker we’ve been crying out for for 6 transfer windows. Since ENIC (levy) have controlled spurs, they’ve only splashed the cash twice, once when we had 2 points from 8 games and had to gamble to stay up. Second when we sold Bale …. but made a profit. So, only one window in a decade or more did they ever spend more than they earned, not good enough for me!


    • I think we’ve got that class striker now, but I get your point. We still need one more top class striker, and if Ade had left last week, then it would have all been on Soldado if Kane had got injured. An absurd situation for a club with top four aspirations and huge expectations. I also still believe, for balance, that we need a proper left winger ..with pace, the ability to beat a man, track back, and deliver excellent crosses. ..plus a deep lying playmaker (who would benefit Eriksen and Kane even more, if that’s possible). That’s not to say I’m not encouraged by the competition in midfield with Mason and Bentaleb plus much improved performances from Dembele, Stambouli and (yes) Paulinho. I also think there is much more to come from Capoue, and I hope he doesn’t leave. Once he builds hard graft and proper tactical reading into his classy game, he’ll be a Rolls Royce of a player. Overall the picture is better than it’s been since Bale left, and Poch is beginning to shape his team.

      Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair to Levy, we did buy a class striker, a proven high scorer in a top league, and for £26 million, but it didn’t/hasn’t worked. Adebayor is also a class striker, not that you’d know it much of the time.


    • Sorry but that nonsense, when Hoddle took over in 2001, he broke our then defensive record with Richards and bought in dross such as Asimovic and Bungi and gave good contracts to both Sheringham and Poyet, equally each manager has been backed including Redkapp as stated and Ramos/Comolli-i think in one pre-season under Santini/Arnesen we purchased 12/14 players including Carrick, and wasn’t Berbatov a club record? Bale/Bent and Kaboul..the list is endless the quality debateable but the myth of managers not being backed simply erroneous.


  4. First a big shout out to Aaron Lennon, a real fave of mine. I too wish him well at Everton. Watching him put on the burners was a great sight. Aside from the famous moments vs Arsenal and Chelsea and Milan, the one where he made Konchesky look like he’s been sent whirring round a revolving door and slotted past Reina before he could move for the last minute winner vs Liverpool at the Lane 2-3 seasons back has just come to mind. Real Billy Whizz stuff. Lennon has a brilliant first touch, which he doesn’t get enough credit for, and developed into a very fine defender of his full back, but I guess he didn’t score enough or set up enough goals for a modern wide forward. A real Spurs player over a long period.

    We seem to be heading in the right direction team wise, though the sands don’t look like they need much before they’ll start to shift (erupt) underfoot again. The defence is still a big worry, but bar Chelsea and Saints that’s true of all the presumed top teams, and look what we did to the chelsea mercenaries’ defence.While we might be looking at who can come in to complete the jigsaw in the summer we are going to have to be very aware that one or two key pieces could be prised away from us.

    It is going to take a good while and much patience and gritting of teeth and remaining calm and confident through bad periods, as we look to rebuild the squad to reach the heights of the Redknapp era, but maybe Levy and the board understand this now. No short term fixes for clubs like ours, not would i want the chelsea-man city one either.

    The new stadium hangs heavy as ever. Personally, I’m happy to see Spurs stay at WHL as is. The front side often containing five academy players is the real story for me this season. Outplaying and beating chelsea at home, even more convincingly than the scoreline suggests, with all five featuring, is the highlight, until March 1st hopefully.


    • Two issues with what you say:

      • “the heights of the Redknapp era”? -surely we should be aiming to hit or better the achievements of Sir Billy Nick or even (cough. cough, splutter,splutter) that red faced bloke from the Trafford Industrial Estate or that midget portugeezer in the SW postcode area?

      • “happy to see Spurs stay at WHL”? -isn’t the major reason for our inability to threaten the top four our lack of income> (listen to me: where did that”our2 come from!!!) Without regular, reliable and massively increased ticket sale revenues, we will slowly sink like Leeds into the mud on the River Lee (of course, that is unless the Irons haven’t already bought it all up)

      Not wanting to be negative, but as Bill said, we gotta aim high — or there’s no point.



      • We have to get back to Harry’s team’s standard before we can even think of pushing on to Bill Nick territory. We also had many trophy-less seasons and outside top 4 finishes under the great Bill Nick too. Different times and different game of course, which brings me to your second issue. Being in the top 4 and he CL isn’t the be and all for me, I know the equation goes CL money = better players and more chance of winning the league and even CL down the road, sometime over the rainbow, etc, not that it’s done Arsenal any good for a decade.

        I guess I’m at a stage with football where I’m asking if what it takes to win either of the two biggest prizes means losing too much of what I value about Spurs that it makes the ultimate prize less desirable. I really wouldn’t want success the Chelsea or Man City way. I fear it can’t be done any other way any more. Seeing a competitive and enjoyable side painstakingly built with 5 academy players in it reach a cup final and be in the hunt for CL football while still at the World Famous Home of the Spurs, I dunno, I’d settle for that over what Chelsea or Man City has.

        Of course no CL and no big stadium you and others argue means we cannot compete. But we’ve been saying this for years now and we’re right in there for the CL places for all bar one of the last 5-6 seasons. Despite all the upheaval, we are right in there again this year, with only one season of CL in our history (and one European cup season in 61-62) and a “little” but famous football ground.


      • There were flashes over the years of Lennon down the wing cutting in on the byline often cutting it back but many many times,there was no striker free.Maybe VDV made something happen at times but Lennon I think is a seed that never quite became a tree.
        His best years were those when Bale was on the opposite wing and they interchanged but even then it was sporadic. I remember one season he was great early on for a run or 5 or six games then went back to mediocrity again.he never really seemed happy and almost seeting at times.
        Im sure other clubs would have done better with him but with us we havent been able to pull something solid together,it was always for many years one or two players exceptional and the others bit parts.


  5. I wish Lennon well too. I got a lot of stick elsewhere saying that Townsend and Lamela hadn’t done enough for me to warrant Lennon’s total exclusion from the squad but I’m sticking by it. Their performances have been promising but patchy and Lennon still had something to offer in my view. Not clear why it was a loan rather than a sale.
    I didn’t think we’d do a lot of business in this window and we didn’t. No club is going to sell an in form striker to Spurs at a price we’re prepared to pay. In some ways I’m glad we didn’t buy a stopgap but I’d have preferred Adebayor to go. He irritates me on and off the pitch but letting him go only made sense if we could get a replacement.
    I’m not unhappy with the transfer window but what happens next does depend on keeping players fit esp Kane. Fingers crossed.


  6. The elephant in the room is the crazy manic buying of 7 players deemed to either

    a) Fill our Bale-less cups with anything that seemed like wine
    b) Offer us with a feeling of potence,that we could once and for all compete with the big boys
    c) Get us through the painful years of building the stadium

    Who picked these players? It seems nobody did.They seemed to arrive from a far away galaxy.7 messiahs arriving at the same time. Did anyone actually explain who and why we bought so many midfielders? Maybe Maybe Levy thought that one of them surely might bring in 100 million.

    Who knows now what promises Poch and Levy have said to each other and what they agreed upon.

    Where are we now?

    I think that it IS going to plan. The through ball that I beg for is not a priority.What seems to be a priority are the uber kids and getting them and making them play to the Poch plan.

    I tell you.I’m with it through ball or not. We do need some sugar along the way for sure to keep up the energy but I can see where Levy is going and I think him and Poch and Mitchell know exactly where they want to go


    • Explain to me RonWol, how Levy continually gets the blame for buying players? For example when HR said clearly he got the players he wanted, then after him we appointed Baldini/AVB as DOF who spent the Bale money fairly lavishly and fairly quickly? Levy appointed him for sure, but he (DL) didn’t buy those players did he? Equally Eriksen isn’t a flop, anymore than Lamela cannot be completely written off either. Fazio,Dier,Chirichesr are not too bad, Are they as bad as the influx of players HR bought it ?the only flop is Soldado in my opinion, and there have been countless players over the years who came in for big money but who just couldn’t cut it in the PL, nothing new there (Anderson 26m for instance)


      • Dont you Pete (Pete from Basildon?) know that Levy made all the bad decisions and everyone else made all the good ones?
        Levy has to literally win us the World Cup for him to be redeemed…the managers just one game would make them saints.
        Anyway I am with the Poch/Mitchell/Levy axis even though sometimes I took want to pull Levy’s hair out


        • Ron – a good third or fourth place with goal difference a little higher than 20 wouldn’t hurt.

          Levy’s hair? I gottit here – fresh from a Market Harborough boy scout jumble. Fifty quid? Or it’s on Flog-It ?


          • Steve third or fourth place doesnt look really possible at the moment but…if we smash the bastards tommorow (and its not beyond that we can win) I might revise that but I think the competition is only just now shifting a gear.We will have our say but I just cant see that.I was talking the project taking time and the youth program being the key to the future.
            Nicholson built a great decade but didnt build a dynasty because there was no program going forward.
            As much as I want immediate gratification becasue of where Im at in life (Im not 90) I still want to see quality and the potemntial of what we could evolve too. Im sure if we got close,Levy would spring for the rest but now its Poch and Mitchells responsibility to bring up the whole club and not just the top eleven.
            This is the plan and within the plan,the training facilitry will be a factory,feeding our own stores and selling off some for profit to secure the final pieces. No dice will be thrown anymore methinks.It will all take hard work now.


  7. Right in every way, Alan.

    Let’s hope Daniel Levy breaks the habit of a lifetime but supports his manager and gives him as much time as he needs. If he does – and this is a big if – then we could be onto something.

    And if Kane scores the winner today the roof will come off.


  8. Today is not Levy’s game,but it is Poch’s.
    Its Poch that is charged with breaking Arsenals rhythm. Its is Poch who has to make sure there are few gaps in defence when they have the ball.
    But it’s not pretty football that will win the game for us (and we just might) but blood and guts.
    Arsenal have been playing tremendous lately with many players who can spread the ball.We have to knock them off the ball (not in the penalty area) and counter fiercely to beat them.


  9. I would really like to know how so many people know that Levy is not supporting the manager. Where do they get the info from.Its certainly not outside their own heads or others.
    Its the chasm that exists in their own minds for who knows what Poch and Levy have discussed and arranged and agreed to???


  10. Hi Alan, there seems to be a lot of understandable confusion regarding the role of technical director/ director of football in the modern game. This article from G. Neville in The Telegraph goes a long way to clarifying the position. Ok, it’s referring to the post at Southampton, but not hard to imagine that Baldini’s responsibilities are similar at Spurs.
    I think after reading you’ll see that the roles of Poch, Baldini and Mitchell can complement each other and not be the contradiction that many seem to think they are.
    I do have the benefit of hindsight though in writing this after one of the most breathtaking performances I’ve ever seen from a Spurs side! Something is taking root with these home grown young players at the Lane, those new training facilities up the road in Enfield would appear to be delivering an end product. Unpopular to say, but maybe Levy is due some credit here?


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