Has Daniel Levy learned the lessons of the past? Can he redeem himself?
By Don Scully
I used to work for Tottenham for years, Levy took over, I was hopeful; a new stadium came, and the heavens looked like they were opening up for us.
Then Levy gave himself millions in a pay bonus/ rise. The penny pinching started (where the team were concerned), and the trophies dried up. Only one under Levy’s reign, and that was the lowest of low trophies; the league cup in 2008. Then the fans realised that money wouldn’t be put into the team, finally uniting to voice their fears, demanding that Levy & Lewis stop the rot or depart from our glorious history.
I parted with a broken heart and watched manager after manager come and then go, many clowns amongst them—bad decisions and poor purchases started to sink hearts. I thought things would change, but nothing.
Pochettino seemed the best of Levy’s bunch; he looked hopeful but was quickly sacked after taking us to the Champions League cup final, followed by Mourinho, who promptly departed, only to be replaced by Nuno… he lasted months. After that sacking, Levy must have had a light bulb moment (roughly the same time Fabio Paratici took the job as Director of football) and realised that purchasing shite (on and off the field) wasn’t the answer to making Tottenham a great again… one great stadium doesn’t make a great football team on the pitch. More was put into making money through live concerts, Rugby, Boxing, American Football etc., than building a team the stadium could be proud of.
Shock of shocks, who does he hire, or should I say, Levy with Paratici’s influence? None other than Conte. A no-nonsense manager. Did Levy & Lewis have a lobotomy, we thought? Had they undergone psychiatric rewiring, maybe? Then the speculations started; what was the catch? Will Levy back him or try to do what he did to every other manager under his wings, give with one hand and take with the other? In other words, shaft him!
In late May, we got the answer, Tottenham Hotspur announced that majority shareholders ENIC have invested £150 million into the club to further invest on and off the pitch (yes, the pitch, not Levy and Lewis’ pockets).
This was the cape duo’s first investment into the club since 2004, with the expectation that most of it would be spent on improving the squad.
The football world and fans were taken by surprise. It wasn’t usually Levy or Lewis’s way of working. Their way of working was to build a magnificent stadium to enrich themselves and their acolytes. In the process, Levy became one of the wealthiest chairmen in the world. Joe Lewis was a billionaire tax exile who was a Liverpool fan and more interested in making money out of Tottenham than restoring its glory.
What was the joke, we wondered? Then the rumours started coming up from the floorboards. Naming rights could have been a factor. We speculated that Lewis wanted to sell the club; it began to make sense. Or I am being too cynical after years of Levy and Lewis doing nothing for the squad or the fans other than milking them? Only time will tell… in the meantime, we’ve got Conte, and the squad is starting to be improved, without – so far – selling players or waiting to the final whistle of the transfer window. Leopards don’t change their spots overnight, or can they? You can’t polish a turd to improve its status; maybe we got that wrong.
Concerning polishing turds: I was talking to a friend recently, and I said, “you can’t polish a turd,” to which my friend replied, ” No, but you can roll it in glitter.” Food for thought.
Do we give Levy and Lewis the benefit of the doubt and believe they have turned a corner, or do we continue to be suspicious? Well, all fans should be wary of their club’s intentions. In the meantime, we watch, hope and pray that Levy & Lewis have seen the light.
So, the story begins
So far, Levy (or because of Paratici’s strong influence over him) has signed Yves Bissouma for £25m plus £10m in potential add-ons, whilst also signing Ivan Perisic and Fraser Forster on free transfers. Quick of their heels came Everton’s forward Richarlison in a deal worth up to £60m. All looking good so far.
These transfers used a considerable portion of ENIC’s investment, with the transfers totalling around £75m and another potential £20m in add-ons. Of course, added to the £150m could be from sold players. This is the first time the club have signed this many players in June since 2008 (the year we won our only league trophy under Levy & Lewis). This shows an apparent change under the leadership. Was Conte’s signing the defining moment?
We Tottenham fans should be jumping for joy, but caution should also be on the cards. With around £60m left within the investment and the expectation that players will be sold too, Paratici and Levy must continue to invest to compete for trophies. We also must remember that this season coming, we will go from three subs to 5, which will change the whole philosophy of substitute tactics. We need an excellent competing squad, not just 11 great players on the field but also quality on the bench. This could be the decider between achieving something substantial or nothing.
So, where do we improve?
Firstly, we must improve our right-wing-back options for the coming season. A good purchase would be Djed Spence, who is still expected to join the club despite Levy taking charge of negotiations. If not him, then maybe players like Johnathan Clauss and Wilfried Singo (naming just two). This would only be the start. We need a playmaker and possibly a winger. There are many good players out there without throwing stupid money around.
Our most crucial position for improvement is left centre back. Despite Ben Davies having a standout year, depth is vital, especially during a long season. What about players like au Torres, Benoit Badiashile or even Marc Guehi?
We could also sign a central centre-back, somebody like Bremer, to compete with Eric Dier.
Clement Lenglet seems likely to join (according to the press and my sources); probably, we will only sign one more centre-back alongside the Frenchman.
We all agree that this has been an excellent Transfer Window start since Levy took over at Tottenham. But have no doubt, the coming days and weeks are critical in deciding the outcome of our season and Levy, Paratici and Conte’s future at the club.
I know – talking to people at Tottenham – that Conte wants more signings before his pre-season tour in Korea. Therefore the onus is on Levy and Paratici to pull their finger out and get the players he wants. Players that can build on his first-half season at the club and challenge for top domestic and European honours.
That investment from ENIC is expected by all to be used to improve the squad, so I expect another top-player signing will be imminent (with more to follow).
Most of us supporters have been growing depressed the longer Levy and Lewis were at the helm of our club. Now that gloom is starting to lift, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Levy & Lewis are on notice. Cock this one up; there will be no way back for them. The shouts for their removal will grow louder. Turn Tottenham Hotspur football club into a top-four elite team, and the screams of “out” might just turn into cries of “hurray! Thank you!”.
All I care about is our past and future. Rome (Tottenham) wasn’t built in a day, but a fool on our hill could turn everything great we have achieved into burnt ruins with a flick of one’s avaricious fingers. Now is the time that Levy and Lewis can redeem themselves… or perish in the flames of greed.
What do you think?
By Don Scully
I have been following Spurs since the sixties and work in London. My current job is as a professional writer (working in the media), and I have work connections to the club and had previously worked for them. Including working at the old White Hart Lane stadium.
I also have my own blog and have written for the SpursWeb app & its website.