In the summer, Tottenham Hotspur had a legitimate chance of building a team to battle for a spot in the UEFA Champions League while elevating the club to become a contender in the Premier League. With £80million in the bank from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham had a once-in-a-decade opportunity to strengthen its playing staff with the amount of money that football chairmen and supporters could only dream of having.
Since then, the club sacked one manager and look set to replace his replacement by the end of this season, or in the summer. Having splashed £107 million on 7 players, Spurs are back to where they started one year ago, or arguably have regressed with the majority of those “magnificent seven” not having impacted the team in a significant manner.
Similar to the transfer escapades of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid, the only club Gareth Bale wanted to join and could pay the fee Tottenham was looking for was Los Blancos. The difference is that Sir Alex Ferguson feels United did not get enough for the two-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Ferguson told Spanish newspaper AS,
“I told David Gill to ask for £150m. Perez would have paid. The only thing that hurt me, and I said this repeatedly to David Gill, was that we didn’t demand enough. I told David, ‘Ask for £150m’. He said, ‘Don’t be silly. They’ll never pay £150m’. I said, ‘Ask for it because he’s worth it.’ We signed the deal. I think it cost £80m or so but I’ll always wonder what Mr. Perez would have said if we’d asked for £150m.”
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy didn’t have this excuse because he used his talent as a shrewd businessman to get Real Madrid to overpay for Bale. Following the sale, he said:
“We have, therefore, with great reluctance, agreed to this sale and do so in the knowledge that we have an exceptionally strong squad to which we have added no fewer than seven top internationals. More importantly, we have an immense team spirit and a dressing room that is hungry for success.”
The seven top internationals Levy was referring to are:
• Etienne Capoue,
• Nacer Chadli,
• Vlad Chiriches,
• Christian Eriksen,
• Erik Lamela,
• Paulinho, and
• Roberto Soldado.
Capoue, Chadli, Chiriches, and Lamela have been fringe players this season. Eriksen started slow but is picking up steam. Paulinho, by far, is the best purchase Tottenham made and has been a solid performer in the midfield while being able to play up the pitch and score goals. Soldado has been heavily inconsistent.
Despite Levy’s skill in selling footballers for top dollar, he and Franco Baldini showed their ineptitude in using the Bale money to buy duds such as Lamela (£26.4million), Soldado (£26.4million), Capoue (£9.6million) and Chadli (£7.1million), while two of the most promising players this season were cast away by Villas-Boas in the reserve squad or made to play with the youngsters — Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb.
Despite initial promising displays by Tottenham under manager Tim Sherwood, the momentum has slowed recently. On March 8, Spurs were dominated by Chelsea 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. Five days later, they were upset by Benfica 3-1 at White Hart Lane in the UEFA Europa League. And then they lost in the North London derby against Arsenal, Tottenham’s third loss to Arsenal in this entire season — where Spurs failed to score a single goal against the Gunners.
Following the Chelsea loss, Sherwood told the press he was frustrated by what he felt was a lack of support in the front office due to the lack of vocal support.
“The silence is deafening. It’s up to the club to make a decision. One thing I guarantee is no one cares more than me. And I want the team to do very well and it hurts me when they don’t. I need people in that dressing room to be hurting like I am.”
As far as replacements for Sherwood, Louis van Gaal is the favorite while Italy’s current boss Cesare Prandelli has been mentioned due to his friendship with Franco Baldini.
Whoever is the manager next season will not have the opportunity to spend the money Spurs did before this campaign. A club the size of Tottenham does not get many opportunities to splurge, and they squandered a golden opportunity to move the club to the next level. Villas-Boas was the scapegoat, but you have to wonder how much of the blame can be placed on the shoulders of Levy, Baldini and ENIC.
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