Even when it seems all is sunshine and roses with Tottenham Hotspur, there is always a fly in the ointment. Paul Mitchell, who was recruited to join Spurs from Southampton along with his former and now current colleague Mauricio Pochettino, is leaving the club at some point in the near future, as is the player ID scout Rob McKenzie who Spurs poached from Leicester.
At the same time, newspaper reports that Tottenham is trying to block Mitchell from leaving.
Is the pending departure of Mitchell and McKenzie a cause for concern, or is the worry mostly due to the timing of the move?
Mitchell was responsible for some of Southampton’s very good signings when he and Pochettino worked together, as well as soon after the Argentine left. He was either directly or indirectly responsible for helping Saints sign players like Victor Wanyama, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane and more. He was certainly helped by working with Ronald Koeman in the summer of 2014, who had contacts in Dutch football circles, but his work with Southampton is certainly commendable. His work with Spurs was largely successful too, as he helped bring in players such as Toby Alderweireld, Heung-Min Son, Vincent Janssen among others, though the credit for signing Dele Alli and Eric Dier can go elsewhere. Mitchell and McKenzie certainly have had a major role in Spurs’ recent recruitment, and their departures will no doubt hurt the club. But it is impossible to know how much they were responsible for each of the individual signings, or exactly what their reason is for leaving.
Based on the statements from Mitchell, it seems he is leaving for another club for whatever reason, and there’s no begrudging him for that. His spells at each of his individual clubs have been around two years, and he’s been with Spurs for about that long. With moves regarding the backroom staff at individual clubs, it’s hard to piece together why personnel moves happen so frequently as well as what these men are exactly responsible for, and it’s the same for Spurs. Mitchell isn’t leaving the club immediately, as he’ll finish out the transfer window with the club and then move on at some point in the future, so the immediate transfer business for Tottenham will not yet be affected. But the future of what looked like a harmonious club for top to bottom now has a little discord thrown into the mix.
Whether Daniel Levy is ultimately responsible for Mitchell’s departure can never be truly known, even though it’s an easy narrative to latch onto. Does he hold responsibility for this supposed instability in the higher echelons of the club? Potentially, but no one will ever be able to know for sure. With the closing of the transfer window, Levy and Mauricio Pochettino will be able to work together to find new men to head up the recruiting staff while the transfer window is closed, and well before next summer as well, since Spurs rarely do major business in January anyway.
A large portion of Spurs’ recent success is down to Mauricio Pochettino, but the club’s recruitment under Mitchell et al has certainly been better than it was under Franco Baldini or even Harry Redknapp, though there are certainly blemishes on his resume. The negative publicity about turmoil like this is never a good thing, especially on the verge of a new season beginning. But Spurs have dealt with this kind of instability before, and so long as this doesn’t dramatically unsettle the manager, then the club will likely be able to trudge on as if little had changed.
Southampton and Leicester have been able to bounce back from recent poachings with solid moves in the transfer market, and Tottenham will likely be able to follow suit. Working with Mauricio Pochettino and the players Spurs already have in tow is still a tantalizing prospect, and Daniel Levy will likely want to do anything to keep his manager happy. But there is now a slight bit of unease around a club that had nothing but good vibes about it as a promising Premier League campaign begins.
Spurs are worse off without Paul Mitchell and his staff. But how much worse off remains to be seen; regardless of the reasons why Mitchell has decided to move on.
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