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Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy Faces the Biggest Decision Of His 12-Year Tenure

Daniel Levy this week took the decision to dismiss Tottenham Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas, although the official line will read that the Portuguese coach’s departure was by mutual consent, we can be pretty sure this was a measure taken by the club. This decision came after Tottenham have endured a difficult period following their impressive start to the season, goals have been hard to come by for Spurs whilst goals at the wrong end of the pitch have been conceded with an all too worrying regularity as Manchester City and most recently Liverpool found out.

After much deliberation during the summer months, it was agreed that Tottenham would reinvest the majority of the money brought in by the sale of Gareth Bale into the playing squad, much to the delight of Andre Villas-Boas, who at that time worked with newly hired Technical Director Franco Baldini to bring in seven new players to the club for an outlay of around £110million. The team began the season well with Christian Eriksen looking every bit the technical genius everyone close to Ajax had professed him to be whilst Danny Rose had taken the left-back position from the controversial Benoit Assou-Ekotto with consummate ease.

An injury suffered by Rose in late September was really where things started to unravel for both Tottenham and Villas-Boas. Results started to slip away, Roberto Soldado was enduring a difficult time in front of goal whilst the Portuguese coach was unwilling to put either Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor into the team on a regular basis and defensively Jan Vertonghen had to play out of position to cover the loss of Rose at left-back.

As pointed out in Jason Burt’s column for The Telegraph on Villas-Boas’ dismissal, Levy and Villas-Boas had become distant as a result of the failed attempts to offload Adebayor during the summer and the unwillingness to reward the Portuguese coach with a new contract after he had turned down the advances of cash-rich Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the summer. This chain of events right from the outset of the campaign left a shadow over Villas-Boas in the sense that is was always likely he would face a higher amount of pressure than certain other managers in the Premier League. The fact Daniel Levy had sanctioned a far greater spend than ever before during his relatively financially prudent tenure only made the string shorter.

Daniel Levy now has to make the most important decision of his twelve year spell at White Hart Lane, and that is which direction to take the club with regards to appointing a new manager. Many have drawn parallels between the current situation at Spurs following Villas-Boas’ departure and the situation in 2008 that saw Juande Ramos sacked and Harry Redknapp brought in. This was a gamble at the time with Redknapp having not worked at a club the size of Tottenham Hotspur for a long time at that point, yet the former Portsmouth boss brought everything that was needed to steady the ship and eventually improve to Spurs.

Harry Redknapp is the archetypal plucky English manager in that he gets the absolute best out of players, he can set teams up to go and play a rip-roaringly offensive game and get a result against the odds just as he did with Tottenham in Milan in 2011. This approach to management worked excellently right up until Redknapp’s final few months at Tottenham. However by then it became apparent that in order to sustain regular Champions League football, the club had to move forward. Redknapp, in terms of his managerial style, is cut from the same cloth as one Sir Alex Ferguson. They both take risks in football matches and both look to attack. However Ferguson succeeded and adapted where Redknapp failed at Spurs. The former Manchester United manager surrounded himself with the absolute best technical staff he could bring to the club. After consistent European disappointment during the 1990’s, aside from the European Cup Winners’ Cup win in 91, including a painful defeat at the hands of Juventus in 1997, Sir Alex knew things had to change if United were to match the behemoth Juventus And as such, he brought in the forward thinking technical expert Steve McClaren to aid United’s push for glory in the Champions League. Ferguson has since done the same with Carlos Queiroz on two occasions and most recently Rene Meulensteen, which kept Manchester United in the running with the rest of Europe.

After the Redknapp era at Spurs, Daniel Levy wanted to ensure the club remained a regular feature within the Champions League and brought in Andre Villas-Boas as the man who was technically astute and could take Tottenham to the consistent heights that Redknapp couldn’t. As we now know, this wasn’t successful although it could be argued Villas-Boas should have been given more time in the job this season at least until the seven new signings acclimatized to both English football and his coaching methods fully.

With the plucky English manager approach having worked to a point, and the technically brilliant foreign coach having not brought the consistent improvements, Levy envisioned it is very much a case of shrugged shoulders and ‘What now?’ for the Tottenham chairman.

A large proportion of Tottenham supporters would like to see Harry Redknapp reappointed in the hope of the short burst of success he brought to the club being replicated. However Tottenham are in a completely different position now for that to work. The current Spurs squad is filled with technical quality. Christian Eriksen has already proven himself to be an excellent playmaker whilst Erik Lamela may now be given a chance to shine following Monday’s managerial change. And Harry Redknapp simply wouldn’t be the best choice to take this potentially exciting team forward on a consistent basis.

The early suggestion is that Tim Sherwood may be given longer than the three matches he is expected to take charge of as Interim Head Coach with his coaching methods having impressed those at Tottenham in recent months as well as the belief that he could motivate the majority of the squad. However this in itself would be a gamble Daniel Levy can’t afford with his popularity with the Spurs faithful consistently up and down. One option that hasn’t been explored by Daniel Levy is the experienced coach, someone who has the know how to command respect from every single member of that squad but also be successful in developing the club and its players at the same time. The two names in this category that stick out more than any other are Fabio Capello and Guus Hiddink.

Neither would be a long term measure much to the displeasure of some supporters but I’m not sure that is too much of a bad thing in this instance. If one of Capello or Hiddink was to come into the club for a season, possibly two at the maximum, they will have the time to work with the squad, motivate the squad and ultimately build a platform for the next manager to work from.

You just have to look at the trophies won by both Capello and Hiddink. For example a European Cup, Italian Serie A titles and an Intercontinental Cup (now Club World Championship) to understand the respect every single member of the Spurs squad would have for the incoming manager. This respect would transmit to events on the pitch, performances would improve and invariably with the quality within the Spurs squad which cannot be forgotten, a top four finish would be achievable.

This essentially steadying period would put Tottenham in an excellent position for the future with the club being rescued from the apparent free fall it currently finds itself in but whilst also being successful and developing at the same time. Many suggest that appointing an experienced coach for such a short period of time would then lead to a similar scenario of chaos when he eventually leaves the club, but for me it wouldn’t.

The players would have regained confidence in their own individual abilities as well as those of the team, the club would be confident as a result and be able to offer continental football to potential new signings. The next managerial appointment would be walking into a far more stable situation, which would make the overall ambition of appointing a young hungry coach such as Tim Sherwood a more viable and safe option two years down the line rather than right now. With the pressure off and the freedom to shape Tottenham into a successful force for years to come, this would be the formula for success.

Editor’s note: For the latest Spurs news, analysis and opinion, visit the Tottenham Hotspur team page.

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  1. Matthew

    December 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Levy should resign from the club, he’s the biggest problem at Spurs.

    • jason

      December 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

      What did he do now? Previously he wouldn’t spend money and that was a problem. Now he spends money and there is a problem.

      I was a big avb supporter but he has shown multiple times now he refuses to adapt. It was time to go. I’m not sure the fault is on levy but will say sacking avb with no replacement seems a bit knee jerk… I wonder if maybe this was more mutual than we think.

      • Matthew

        December 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        Levy is just a bean counter. The problem with him is he thinks he knows more about the game then he really does. I was never an AVB fan and didn’t like his appointment. I think it was a huge mistake to have fired Harry. If Levy thinks he knows so much about the game then let him manage the team.

        • Chris Winterburn (Author)

          December 20, 2013 at 8:11 am

          I thought the decision to dismiss Harry was correct at the time. He had taken the club as far as it could go and relations were strained after the England issue. AVB was a premium manager available at the time none for his tactical astuteness, that is what Levy wanted and he took a gamble. It didn’t pay off but I don’t think it can really be a slight on Daniel Levy to appoint a manager of AVB’s ability.

        • Jason

          December 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

          Have to agree. You have to look at Tottenham from a long term prespective. It’s been 13 years since Levy joined the club. Before Levy joined the club their highest finish in the Prem was 7th. People need to take some prespective and applaud the job Levy has done on all aspects. Levy has taken a club into the next level. It’s expected that Tottenham will challenge for top 4 now. It’s arguable Tottenham have the best training facilities in the world. Additionally Tottenham have moved forward with getting a state of the art and expanded seating stadium built next door to White Hart Lane…. Give the man some credit, to not give Levy credit for his accomplishments over the past 13 years is shortsighted.

          • Matthew

            December 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

            You can have the best of everything but unless you have people in charge who know what they are doing it will not change anything. AVB was given a 100 million. When was Harry given that type of money? Harry had to beg for money and players. That is such a worn out statement that Harry took them as far as he could. Who says? We will never know now? Levy and Lewis have no long term plans for Spurs. Once everything is place the club will be sold. That is what venture capitalist do and Lewis is one.

          • Jason

            December 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm

            Matthew, when you say what would Harry have done with the money you show your lack of awareness and understanding. AVB wasn’t given any more money than Harry. It’s a simple math equation and has been for some time. The club spends the money they receive. If you actually want to get specific, Harry was “given” more money than any other Tottenham manager.

            08/09 under Harry saw Tottenham spend $20 mil more than players sold.

            10/11 under Harry saw Tottenham spend $17 mil more than they sold

            In the past 2 years under AVB they’ve sold $4mil more than they’ve brought in.

            Harry spent $45mil on Pav, Palacios and Bentley…
            Don’t be foolish, there is a reason Harrys only job option was QPR whom got relegated and he isn’t coaching right now and he didn’t get the England Job.

            I applaud Levy on for his long term vision and putting the club in a position to be successful in the long term. Spurs are at such a disadvantage because of their stadium. They bring in 1/3rd of what Arsenal brings in from gate sales.

            The fact that the club has consistently been challenging for fourth and keeping the books in line and not straddling the club with debt is a great feat and should be commended.

  2. Frank

    December 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This is his biggest decision till the next one. I don’t see this as defining moment in Levy’s tenure nor that of the club.

    Buying the players they did means Spurs just need to bring in a manager that can work with what is already there. The problem is most managers, hired for the long haul, make changes to squads so it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.

    • Chris Winterburn (Author)

      December 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I think with the money spent in the summer on the seven players brought in the new Manager will have to work with what he has, at least until next summer at least. This is why a coach such as Capello would be such a good option for one or two years as he would be able to work with those players, it isn’t as if he would need to make wholesale change to fit a specific philosophy like some managers would i.e. Pochettino.

      • R.O

        December 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm

        I think Hiddink would be a better choice over Capello. Look at what Hiddink did for Chelsea after all the termoil. Hiddink understands and knows how to work with players and gets the best out of them. He also knows how to manage the players egos.

        • Chris Winterburn (Author)

          December 19, 2013 at 6:08 am

          Capello would have more of a disciplinarian feel and Hiddink probably has a better eye for man-management like Ferguson, he knows what to say to individual players to get the best out of them.

  3. Keith

    December 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    why don’ we go for Frank Rijkaard? He has experience at the highest level, would demand the respect of the players with his playing history, is young enough to be a long term prospect (with patience) and is a free agent.

    • Chris Winterburn (Author)

      December 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Normally Rijkaard would be a fantastic shout, a real experienced customer who with his early work shaped Barcelona into the monster we saw in 2009-2011. However there would have to be too much change for Rijkaard to get the parameters within which he has to work to be successful and it would take time for those changes to occur. On the other hand with a customer like Capello or Hiddink they would come in right away, get the respect of the current talented squad, be successful and then be able to build a solid base for say a Rijkaard or a De Boer to start from two years down the line.

      • Keith

        December 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

        i think Hiddink would be a good bet short term. Especially since he is contracted to take over the Dutch poistion. After that or even as a number two until the summer, Rijkaard would be awesome (or De Boer but that means him leaving a role half completed)to step in. Which ever way it goes. The permanent replacement needs to be selected for their experience and what they can bring and then given time even if its a couple more seasons of mediocrity

  4. bennett311

    December 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Why deliberate?

    Ted Lasso.

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