Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy Is The Problem at White Hart Lane

Not long ago I wrote a piece concerning the lack of spending at Tottenham by chairman Daniel Levy and owner Joe Lewis regarding the signing of new players. My conviction is stronger than ever that the problem with Tottenham Hotspur is with the current chairman Daniel Levy. I would like to add absentee owner Joe Lewis to that list too. These two men in my opinion are ruining a good club that Harry Redknapp built. Joe Lewis, the majority owner, shows little or no interest in the club and has passed that responsibility to his long time friend and associate Daniel Levy.

There should be no surprise as to the owner’s interest. The man heads a very large private equity firm, similar to Bain Capital. ENIC Group has control over the club but ENIC Group is part of the larger entity known as Tavistock Group based in the Bahamas. Tavistock has holdings in energy, resorts, property development, restaurants, manufacturing, sports and many other things. Tavistock is made up of over 200 companies. ENIC Group is part of that and finally Tottenham Hotspur is one of those tiny pieces to this private equity firm. I think for Lewis owning Tottenham is more about bragging rights — a current trend among the wealthy to own a professional sports team, which you see a lot in the United States. To a point, I will give Lewis a pass but he could do more. However, Levy has been given full control over the club by Lewis and is driving the club into the ground.

After four successful years of building a team that I believe was going to the next level, Levy decides to fire Harry Redknapp. There are all sorts of stories why this happened but that doesn’t really matter. The point is the most successful manager in a number of years was axed. Levy said he wanted to take the club in a new direction. All I have heard is he wanted a younger coach and a focus on younger players. I thought Redknapp had been focusing on the development of the youth at Spurs; some of them are currently playing. But what is Levy’s vision for Spurs? That has yet to be determined. Levy, as the man in charge, needs to explain what his vision is to the supporters. He has done an awful job in communicating his message to the public. He rarely speaks to the press. What are we to think?

The removal of Redknapp was a foolish blunder. Redknapp did more for the club than any manager in a long time. I will give Martin Jol credit for his efforts and accomplishments. Harry took a beaten club in 08/09, took them to the League Cup Final and almost got them into Europe and got them to 8th place in the league. Then came fourth place and the Champions League. And for the first time in that competition, the club performed very well. During he last two years, Redknapp took them to 5th and 4th and the dumb luck of missing out on the Champion Leagues. Redknapp wasn’t given a great deal of money to work with and new players coming in were limited, even though he sought to unload players and bring new players in. Yes, no trophies were won but that isn’t the only measure of success. You measure the man for what he has done for the club and Levy threw that all away. Was Redknapp perfect? No. He got too close to the press and made off the wall comments. He played favorites and left some good players out. He made public comments concerning his players and he should have known better. Yes, he made some poor player selections in games and didn’t always change his tactics, but that is after the fact. In addition, players must accept responsibility for their poor performance as well.

The two men didn’t get along despite what the reports said. Levy is classic new school, white collar and wants to make money for his friend, Lewis. Redknapp is classic working class or blue collar man. Redknapp, without a doubt, is a man’s man. The type of guy you could joke around with or have a beer and talk about anything. Redknapp is the type of guy who wouldn’t take crap from anyone and would prefer to handle things old school. If you read his op-ed piece during the riots in London last year you would know what I mean. The man was very comfortable in his own body. Levy strikes me as a man who was insecure around Redknapp and felt threatened by his personality. Levy doesn’t seem like a person who is comfortable with who he is, and thus Redknapp had to go. Levy wanted to control Redknapp and that wasn’t going to happen, so he brought in a very young coach that you can influence and dominate. Levy strikes me as a man who wants the appearance of making things happen, thus receiving the credit for that success. If AVB succeeds, Levy will say it was all his doing and no one else. I think that is the type of man Levy portrays.

How Levy became chairman, I really don’t know. And I doubt anyone in the general public will know the real story. I would suggest it was solely based on his long term and close association with Lewis. Levy has a degree in economics — not really the training to run a professional football club. Most of the people I know that have economics degrees are professors or work in the financial sector. Nevertheless the man is out of his depth in this situation.  From 2001 to present, he’s gone through nine managers. That isn’t a good record for the man at the helm. The responsibility of a leader or, in this case, a chairman is to spot and secure talented individuals to manage the team. That is a key to leadership. And either you got it or you don’t. That is something you naturally have or don’t and Levy has clearly demonstrated that is a source of problem. Martin Jol and Redknapp were his best.

Something else in being a leader is having the ability to see things out and have the patience to wait and build for the future not for the short term or the quarterly reports in how much you are making in net worth. Rarely does instant success happen in the business world or the sporting world. Time, patience and the desire to succeed are required. Think about this one. Would you feel secure in a company where the management was in constant change? Would you think the executives at the top knew what they were doing? I truly believe leaders are born and not created. Some people are just meant to lead and some are just meant to be followers. Levy isn’t a leader.

I am going to assume after years of selling off his best players and seeing money flashed in his face, Levy wanted to compete with the big boys of the league. Modric wanted to leave after the conclusion of the 2010/2011 season. Levy decided to have a testosterone contest with Chelsea and other clubs, where he rejected £40 million. He wanted to be taken seriously and not be pushed around. He was willing to hold onto a player that clearly wanted out. No one really knows what was discussed between the two but Modric cooled off. The whole affair wasn’t about Modric but about Levy’s appearance of weakness, which he shown so much in the past. Surprise, Modric wants to leave again. Last year Levy could have gotten £40 million, now he will be lucky to get £30 million. Latest reports say that Levy is dawdling over an additional £2 million. Why? Sell the player get the money and invest in needed players, a new young goalkeeper and a couple of strikers. Seriously, what has Levy done during this transfer window or the last few? The few players that have been brought in are ones that Redknapp wanted and look how hard he had to fight to get them. Well, if they are on a free transfer, no problem. You want quality, you got to pay for it. If a player is worth it and displays that worth on the field, then play him that wage. If the player is worth £100,000 plus a week then you pay the bill. Levy will not bring in the best players because he refuses to pay high salaries. In that case, get used to middle of the road. Because one day the likes of Bale and others will demand more money and Levy will most likely sell them off and pocket the money rather than pay larger wages.

Levy has given us a new manager with a very short resume. Yes, he had that one successful year but he failed at Chelsea and Levy is betting that Andre Villas-Boas will be the new savior of the club. I really don’t know. I just can’t adjust to his appointment. I believe he will destroy the great squad Harry built and will leave it in ruins. I want him to be successful but Levy’s selections in managers’ in the past leaves a lot to be desired. And now today Levy and AVB have sold Michael Dawson to Queens Park Rangers. Dawson is truly one of the standup guys at Spurs — loyal and completely committed to the club. See what loyalty gets you! We had a winner in Harry, and Levy throws that all away.

I really wonder where Levy’s loyalty is at. Tottenham Hotspur is a tiny piece in this giant private equity firm. I think the real loyalty is to the firm and more importantly Joe Lewis. Also, the shareholders must not be forgotten because their money is a real concern to Lewis and his ongoing business operations. Some will point to the fact that Levy wants to build a new stadium. Well that doesn’t take too much vision to figure a new and larger stadium would be helpful. He decided this back in October 2008. Has the stadium been built or even started construction? He wasted time and resources on that stupid Olympic stadium and went back to the original plan. A new training complex is being constructed, but then again that doesn’t take a great deal of vision as well. Do Lewis and Levy really care about the people in Tottenham or the surrounding areas? I suspect not. My intuition tells me when the stadium is finally constructed as with the training complex that Lewis will try to sell off the club and walk away with a healthy profit and the money that Levy has been hoarding over the years.

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