Spurs’ World Class Training Ground, Stadium And ChairmanBy: Robert Reed | July 17th, 2012
It is worth noting that work has begun on our new 56,000 seater stadium. The hoardings are going up and it is reported that by 2016 we will be watching our team play in a stadium befitting our rising status in the game. Every effort is being made to ensure that ours will be the most atmospheric in Europe, with the crowd right next to the action as it is presently at White Hart Lane. That is something that has been a priority for Daniel Levy from the outset. It’s how a fan of the club would prioritise it’s design, and I feel fortunate that he is a genuine Spurs fan and a man of his word in that respect. I would not swap our chairman for any other in the Premiership and I cannot remember us ever having a better man at the helm.
It is said that Alan Sugar saved us from going under, and he probably did. He certainly saved us from Robert Maxwell, but remember what a buffoon Sugar was? Not only did we never finish in the top six during his tenure but he was constantly mouthing off and loving the sound of his own voice. Levy interviews are rarer than Bigfoot sightings. A good chairman in my opinion should be seen by his actions and attendance at the games and not heard. Levy makes press releases, uses spokesmen and doesn’t waste his time and energy defending himself from idle criticisms from the likes of Karen Brady in the press. He is above that and it is a reassuringly professional M.O.
As well as finally getting the ball rolling on what is going to be a stadium to make us all proud we are about to move into one of the biggest and best training facilities in Europe. In that respect Levy has pushed us right to the top of world football’s elite, and with it made us one of the most viable clubs for a young and upcoming footballer to sign for if he really wants to improve as a player.
Now I am not going to sit here and make out I’ve never had a bad word to say about Levy. You can never be in agreement with everything your club’s chairman does and he has certainly made some errors in his time.
The way Martin Jol was treated when he was sacked was a massive, massive cock up for starters. In fact I think Levy himself probably cringes when he thinks about how that played out. Martin Jol was a decent manager, a loyal servant of the club and an incredibly popular figure among the fans. In no way did he deserve that.
It has to be said though that as far as the actual decision to sack Jol goes I don’t think it was a bad one. The players were very unfit, scoffing doughnuts in the canteen and enjoying fun but none too strenuous training sessions. We would regularly let in goals at the end of games when the players were totally knackered. There was also the very exciting prospect of a certain Juande Ramos, whose Sevilla team were playing some sensational stuff in Spain. Quite a coup getting that fella then!
OK; another colossal balls up, but I have never laid that one at the chairman’s door. Levy’s detractors always try and clobber him with Ramos, but who thought it was a bad signing at the time? I for one was angered at Jol’s treatment but also excited about the new man in charge. Sadly it didn’t work out, but that happens sometimes. The thing is though that those who blame Levy for Ramos’ failings then give all the credit for the improvement under the following manager to Redknapp, as if he’d hired himself. Redknapp worked, Ramos didn’t. It’s the way it goes.
Yes Daniel has gone through a few managers in his time at the club. Roman Abramovich is one extreme, often sacking his manager for apparently no reason at all when they are enjoying success. The Arsenal board are the other extreme where, whether you think he should go or not, you get the impression Wenger would have to attend a press conference dressed as Hitler with a ‘jazz mag’ hanging out of his back pocket before he would get sacked. Levy has a better handle on it I think; he is decisive but barring disaster will give his managers a chance.
Longevity is not always the key to success, and what has worked and brought the club forward sometimes needs to be replaced in order for further progress. I think that Harry did well to steady the ship after Ramos and to galvanise the squad, but we would never be a modern progressive side under his leadership. I lost count of the messages I would get after my articles with formations and tactical ideas that fans thought were the way forward, but I would just shrug my shoulders as I knew that under Harry we would never play anything other than a derivative of 4-4-2.
OK, in the champions League the shock of having a locomotive like Gareth Bale running at them down the wing caught a lot of teams cold, but when we came up against a true tactician like Mourinho we ended up looking like mugs. We also did very well for some of last season, but what was our record against the top sides? Against the top four home and away last year we won one, drew two and lost the other five. We also lost to Chelsea in the cup. The game has moved on and, great motivator though he may be, Harry never moved with it.
Another problem I have had with levy is his intransigence in the transfer market costing us players, but again that needs another looking at. Harry desperately wanted Andy Carroll before he went to Liverpool, and was clearly irritated at losing out on Joe Cole. Levy spends money when he sees it to be a good deal; simple as that. If it’s not a good deal for the club then it isn’t going to happen, and that’s a big reason why we are so financially sound now even with our club’s great improvements.
It is true that we could have spent more money in the last transfer window, but we were looking at players like Loic Remy for £20 million and it has to be said that the squad we had should have been good enough to hold onto third. Plus I think Harry’s days were already numbered in Levy’s mind and if we had signed players who’s to say Villas Boas would want them now?
Another thing is that since Berbatov, our best players leaving on a regular basis for the lure of a ‘bigger club’ has become a thing of the past. Remember how bad it was? We were like Arsenal are now. So what is the difference? All our top players are regularly given new contracts and there are none in their last year able to hold the club to ransom. Also with Levy’s innovations and investment we are exhibiting a great deal of ambition. You will always get the odd Modric, but teams don’t generally bother trying to unsettle our players now. In the unlikely event they can turn their heads the clubs know they will have their pants pulled down over the price.
There has been a time though when I was at absolute loggerheads with Levy’s opinion. I would have happily seen him sacked and replaced with whoever if he had succeeded in taking us to Stratford. It was NOT vital in the face of the new financial fair play rules and was a greedy businessman decision rather than that of a fan. I became heartily sick of the arrogant, smug ‘fans’ who called people like me small minded for not wanting to be an East London club for some extra cash. We have not moved to Stratford, we are staying at White Hart Lane and, guess what? We aren’t suddenly finished as a club after all. On the contrary we are all excited about our new stadium and training ground, still going places and still the pride of NORTH London from White Hart Lane.
Anyway…I will forgive Daniel that because it didn’t happen. In fact all the Stratford nonsense saved us a fortune with concessions from the local council and the London Mayor. There are to be improvements to the tube stations and the roads and all is looking rosy.
I bet some have read this and sneered. He is not everyone’s cup of tea and there are certain gripes which I’m sure I have left out but, for me, the bad is far outweighed by the good.
Oh, and Joe Lewis. He’s an alright bloke too I guess!
You can follow me on Twitter @RobertReedUK
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