Levy’s Catastrophic Blind spotBy: Robert Reed | February 1st, 2013
‘They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got’
That song was running around in my head when I awoke this morning; the day after the night before. What is it’s meaning? I thought. Is it some calming clarity which has been visited upon me in the night through the dulcet tones of Sonny & Cher? Am I wrong, and my mind is telling me that the money should have been saved and that we already have a good enough squad?
No, nothing that deep. It’s just February 1st; Groundhog Day.
It is a well known theory that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By that maxim Daniel Levy should be on a ward somewhere eating pudding in his pyjamas.
NO! Some shout. He is a genius, deftly guiding us to the promised land with his prudent and wise business plan. It is stupid and short sighted to think that a forward should be signed when we do not have the revenue from Champions League football.
Well, I disagree, and if you would indulge me I would like to go through a brief recap in order to better express that opinion. I would also like to add that my opinion of the Chairman’s handling of certain aspects of the club does not require the slightly more hysterical to shriek ‘Get behind the team!’ I am forever behind the team; sometimes, I think, for my sins.
Our Champions League run in the 2010/11 season made us around £27 million pounds from the actual competition, as well as the uncalculated revenue from extra sales of everything from team shirts to alarm clocks which the excitement generated. It’s estimated that with TV money etc a team should make around £20 million.
The 2010/11 league season however was an absolutely abysmal one for our strikers. Defoe, Crouch and Pavlyuchenko scored an unbelievable eighteen goals between them in eighty five games. Doubtless there are some overlapping substitute appearances but that still works out as six goals each over the season. That was enough, particularly in the run in, to see us fail to qualify for the Champions League and receive the £20 million+ income that would have brought in. We finished six points behind Arsenal and it was obvious to everyone that the striker situation needed a complete overhaul.
So, in the summer, out went Crouch. Most fans were keen on the idea of Defoe and Pavlyuchenko following him but they stayed and were joined by the loan signing of Adebayor. Adebayor? OK, he’d be good for a season (no more, it’s Adebayor) but it seemed clear that a really top, long term striker was needed also. Fans were divided; ‘Without Champions League football, we can’t buy a top striker,’ said some; while others said, ‘Without a top striker we can’t get Champions League football.’ Sound familiar?
On to January. Pavlyuchenko left, and again there was an outcry for the top striker needed to secure Champions League football. In the end Saha was signed, another cheap loan, and fans were divided. ‘Without CL we can’t buy the striker,’ versus, ‘Without a top striker we can’t get CL.’ Sound familiar? It was argued that the summer was the time to buy a top striker and not in January. Wait until the summer.
Over the remainder of the season Defoe scored four and Saha scored three. We missed out on Champions League qualification, and the £20 million+ windfall that would bring, by one point and one goal.
2012/13 season. Saha left and although many thought it was a bad idea, Adebayor was signed on a cheap permanent contract. Saha was not replaced with anyone up front and again the cry went out for investment in a top striker, especially as we had one less than at the same time the season before. Was it not intimated that January was not the time, and that we should wait for the summer? Fans are divided. ‘Without CL….’ etc. Sound familiar?
Now this transfer window has closed. With Defoe carrying an injury and, after a bright start, having reverted to his 10/11 league form of one goal in his last nine, along with Adebayor having the kind of second season most of us were expecting (and Arsenal fans were relishing) with two goals in fourteen games so far; most are outraged that we have once again failed to sign a striker. Yet again, fans are split. The now very familiar ‘No striker without CL,’ versus, ‘No CL without striker,’ argument is ensuing once more.
Again, there is talk of this mythical striker that we have to wait for the summer to sign. But do you know what? I don’t think we will sign one; why is that? Because with the predictable strong finish from Arsenal, the worrying consistency of Everton this season and the strengthened and dangerous looking front line of Liverpool I do not think we have enough goal scoring threat up front to hang on to fourth place. We could easily now miss out on the Champions League for the third consecutive season.
If that happens we will once again shy away from paying the money required to sign a player of sufficient standard in the summer. Why? ‘Without Champions League football, we can’t afford a top striker.’
This is a vicious circle which can only be broken by biting the bullet and signing the player. World class if we can attract one, for between £20-£30 million. In truth we need two strikers, with Adebayor quite likely on his way in the summer. Defoe should be farmed out to QPR or Villa or somewhere also. At the very least though we need one striker who can comfortably score twenty goals in a season.
I’m sick of hearing the argument that there are so few class strikers, and where are we meant to find them etc. I’d be very Happy with Demba Ba at the moment, and where were we when Liverpool signed Luis Suárez? Why were fourth placed, Champions League Spurs going into the 2010/11 season with Peter Crouch as our main man while sixth placed, Europa League Napoli were buying Cavani for £4million up front, rising to £15 million? Do we have a scouting network? Cavani scored twenty six league goals that season. Crouch scored four.
It is scandalous, and completely baffling. Levy is clearly an incredibly intelligent guy, but for some reason he has built a brilliant team which is capable of finishing third every season and hamstrung it by persevering with a front line good for mid-table.
I used to always stick up for Levy but I cannot any more. He has done so much for the club with the training ground and the forthcoming stadium. Holtby is a terrific buy and a great piece of business. Why does he just have this massive blind spot when it comes to the all important position of centre forward?
Balancing the books is one thing but this failure to invest big up front is NOT prudent and is not good business sense. Just look at the facts! Sign a decent forward instead of Saha last January, good enough to fight for a place at around £15 million say, who scores just ONE GOAL more than Saha to give us a draw instead of a loss and that’s £20 million Champions League money this season. Player, and a profit.
I’m beginning to think that not spending money we can’t afford is going to ruin us financially. Kind of ironic.
Follow me on Twitter @RobertReedUK
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