First things first, this isn’t an opinion piece by some deluded Spurs fan living in the past, whining about the great Harry Redknapp. In essence, this is a clear reference to a great spurs team and the trepid journey that has proceeded that man.
I sense the demise of the Spurs team is not just the result of losing a good manager, but a reflection on the cultural change Levy has inflicted on the club and his hunger for control. Levy is without doubt a control freak. Under Redknapp it became a bit of a party town for his merry men where chains were slack and players given more freedom. The result was clearly transferred onto the pitch, but Levy snapped at the chance to rain it all back in.
For whatever reason, of which I’m sure you could make a case for some, Levy prefers a corporate structure to his ‘business’ where roles are clearly defined and powers restricted. The obvious benefits off the pitch are there to be seen with exciting developments in the pipeline, but it comes at the sacrifice of what really matters to the fans…results.
I don’t think that AVB is a bad manager, he was a desperate man caught in a chairman’s transition to rebuild a bureaucratic monster. Sherwood was way out of his depth, but only ever intended as an interim solution. Now Spurs have Pochettinho, another manager who probably has much talent to offer but was sucked into the promise of a once great club, only to be the face of a political nightmare where his head is first on the board.
The beauty of the mojo in Harry’s era was the manner in which Spurs went about their football. It was an absolute pleasure to watch, even the most resentful of fans would be hard pressed to deny that. With the drama in which it all unfolded, fans have been quick to forget how great those memories are. I’ve often heard fans remark that Spurs were a team punching above their weight on a lucky run. I couldn’t disagree more. For once they were punching within a weight category they had longed for and deserved. The team played with pace, hunger, flair, creativity and best of all great drama. Capable of beating anyone on their day, the right support from Levy when it mattered might have led to a title challenge to go with it.
Compare that to the side now, and I see none of the characteristics of before. There is a consistent lack of passion and hunger, certain players look like they are there for a payday or a chance to bolster their own personal ambitions (cough Chadli), with Tottenham providing a neat platform to showcase this. Flair and creativity is non-existent. A group of luxury players, without technique or the mental attitude to win. They pass the ball so predictably most Sunday league teams could mount a decent enough defence. All the while, the majority of the coaching staff look like their balls are in a permanent vice, gradually being squeezed tighter and tighter. The fans are at a loss to understand who picks the shape, the players and the tactics, because they can see the problems that the power of decisions apparently can’t. The team seems to have sleep walked from one season to the next with very little change. It’s flat, and something has got to give.
A simple formula of Levy plus director of football equals a mediocre Tottenham side. It was proven in the pre and post Redknapp days, regardless of how you rated Harry as a manager. The difference in success of the team is clear to see. Under Jol they finished 5th two seasons running, but looked a million miles off 4th. Under Harry they achieved a 4th placed finish on two occasions and had an unforgettable stint in the Champions League. AVB, Sherwood and Poch have only ever been able to replicate the achievements of Jol, so where is the progress? Poch has been installed as a coach, not a manager, which unfortunately means you can only work with what you are given.
For Tottenham fans, it’s another year, another transfer window. They wait with baited breath on a list of summer targets that will transform the less than average start to the season. One of them might come off, but you’re never quite sure until the following morning of deadline day. Berahino is clearly a serious option, and something desperately needed, but at what cost? I wouldn’t write off Austin either.
If I were Pochettino, I would be concerned with the big problem in the middle of the park, where Spurs don’t defend well as a team and have very little in the way of pace or impact players. The awkward and embarrassingly narrow shape favoured makes them predictable going forward and exposed defensively. The advanced 3 of that midfield clamber all over each other like a bunch of Ed Sheeran fans desperate to get to the front of a queue and have a picture with their favourite late night model from Babestation. They all have the same dumbfounded expression at the lack of opportunities coming their way. I’m constantly told that the world of football has evolved from wingers, but it remains to be proven. Chelsea and Barcelona deploy a non-winger based system very well, but look at the quality of their players. Whether a striker or 2 will solve Spurs issues remains to be seen, but based on the current rate of progress, 5th still looks like a good finish for Levy’s maybe, but not quite club.