There is no doubting about the ramifications of Saturday nights late late show at Tottenham and just how important a decision the installing of Harry Redknapp is for one man above any other involved with Tottenham Hostpur. After the despicable way that Martin Jol was treated a year ago, booted out for having the audacity of only getting Tottenham to their highest league placing since 1990 and improving their stock immeasurable, Daniel Levy was in serious trouble. The high profiled and expensive move for Juande Ramos simply didn’t pay off. I have no idea what happened after Spurs won the Carling Cup, but something definitely changed. Maybe it was the wholesale changes over the summer, perhaps the language barrier, certainly a key reason was the selling of Berbatov and Keane but overall the whole club suddenly lost all confidence and Ramos simply couldn’t pull them round.
Winning two games out of 12 was not the start anyone even considered as a worst case scenario at Spurs and one of those was at Newcastle, still reeling from Ashley’s destructive management of the club, which was hardly a a case for spotting the green shoots of recovery. The team looked bereft of confidence, fight and willing, a rudderless ship drifting along the footballing doldrums heading for The Coca-Cola Championship. It’s quite easily the worst a Spurs side have played since the team that was relegated in 1976 and Levy realised drastic action was required to give them a cat in hells chance of getting out of it and protecting his position as Chairman of THFC. After 5 managers in 6 years, over 100 transfers and £175 million being spent over the last 3 years, Levy was facing the awful truth that under his tenure, Tottenham were going down. He tried bringing former hero Hoddle back and sacked him, went for a continental mixture of Santini & Jol, which lasted 13 games when Santini walked, promoting from within by keeping Jol and ultimately seducing hot prospect Ramos whilst Jol’s gaze was elsewhere to ultimately lead the team to bottom of the league. This surely wasn’t meant to be, Ramos had won European trophies. It was the next level of coach to take them to the next level wasn’t it? If only Chairman understood that football doesn’t work like that.
Chairman are strange beasts at the best of times, British football is littered with broken clubs thanks to owners falling into the age old ego issue, that all a clubs success is because of the Chairman. * We’ve had Chairmen try to burn down their grounds, Chairmen threatening to sell to people who want to rename the side after a television programme, Chairmen who tried to merge deadly rivals and Chairmen who banned the local paper after the reporting of a UFO sighting. Doug Ellis, the former chairman of Aston Villa has an interesting gap in his ownership of the club, being the period between 1979 to 1982. As any fan of Aston Villa will tell you, in that 3 year period, the club won both the title and the European Cup. Within 5 years of his return, they were in Division Two, which is some going, whichever way you look at!!
One of the greatest British footballers, Len Shackleton, famously included in his autobiography a chapter entitled “The Average Football Directors Knowledge of Football” which consisted of a blank page. Now, I’m certainly not saying that Daniel Levy is anywhere near the level of idiocy that Shackleton referred to, in conversation and interview he come across as knowledgeable and aware of the game and Tottenham but sometimes it becomes hard to ignore bad decisions. Now Levy certainly didn’t ignore his mistakes over the Ramos situation, it would be hard not to, but it was the speed of the removal and replacement that caught a lot of people out in football. It’s not so hard to work out that Levy realised far more than Tottenham being relegated, the thing that would be certain was that his position would become untenable. Now that brought the situation home and it became painfully clear that major surgery was required to save both Tottenham and the Chairman from falling out of the top flight. The decision seemed to be have been made after Thursday nights defeat and rumours of a fan demonstration needed urgent action to be taken.
Now, the decision to go after Redknapp so earnestly and ruthlessly proved that Levy has the boldness to make a calculated risk when the chips were really down. This decision could be the making of Levy at Tottenham, but let us be under no illusions here, it can also be the breaking of him. Until Sunday, Spurs had suffered there worst start in league history, the win against Bolton now moves them to the level of the 1988-1989 season which saw them propping up the table on Halloween, with a paltry 5 points from 10 games. Yet that season also saw Tottenham finish 6th, missing out on fifth by losing the last match of the season and become the first club to stay up who were bottom on October 31st. Now that doesn’t seem a realistic comparison to make, Spurs had the genius of Gascoigne and Waddle in that side but Levy now knows that this could be his last chance, the final throw of the dice and everything he and Tottenham have are all in the hands of Harry Redknapp and the return to a more traditional managerial set up. After the start they’ve had, 17th will be a success for Levy. Whatever happens this season, this is Levy’s most important decision he’s ever made at Spurs. Good Luck to him.
* The four clubs are Doncaster Rovers, Mansfield Town, Oxford United and Carlisle United.