Firstly, I’m pretty sure that ENIC are as keen to be competing regularly in the CL as any fan because that would obviously make us much more attractive to potential suitors when they eventually sell up. The challenge they face though is that they’ve never been in a position to throw the sort of money at gate-crashing that party in the way that City & Chelsea’s owners could. So I’m a firm believer that the only way a club like Spurs can hope to compete with those clubs is to employ a manager who is capable of identifying and developing players to build a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The way we got into the CL before was by assembling an assortment of below the radar signings, players others were hesitating over and promising youngsters and letting them mature into a quality team – adding a sprinkling of experience where required. Whilst Jol and Ramos struggled to various extents to get the team always performing to their potential, let alone beyond it – Harry came in and did that part of the job brilliantly. Had he continued doing so I’d have been quite happy with him at the helm for the foreseeable. However once we qualified for the CL my opinion on him quickly started to change because he didn’t seem to have much of a clue how to take us forward from there.
This was compounded by the club inexplicably ditching the policy that had proved so successful and instead, chasing superstars who were never going to sign for us. We fell into the trap of thinking that because we could offer them CL football they’d be beating down our door, but without being able to compete with the mega bucks clubs on wages we had no chance of signing top players in their prime. So whilst the likes of Suarez could & should have been achievable, Fabiano – the then Brazilian number 9 that we spent all summer courting, seemingly with no other contingency option – clearly wasn’t.
So on the whole we were naive in the extreme in our attempts to consolidate after finally getting our feet under the top table of European football and whilst it took slightly longer than I expected for the house of cards to come crashing down, it inevitably did – which is kind of where we now find ourselves.
What astounds me now though is that given we only managed to sign one slightly damaged player approaching top quality (Rafa) when we were able to offer CL football, why has the penny seemingly not dropped for so many fans that we have even less chance of doing so now and have simply no chance of buying our way back into the top 4. That’s why all the talk about net spend, etc is little more than a red herring for me because it’s not as if we’ve not spent any money – we’ve spent a fortune in recent windows, but have been lucky enough to make a profit of a couple of hundred million for the players we’ve sold. We’re left with a very good squad on the back of our foray into the vertiginous reaches of the PL – far better than what it was before ENIC came along, but almost certainly not strong enough to challenge for the top 4 as things stand.
So where does that leave us? Going nowhere fast other than mid table seems to be the pervading mood amongst many fans based on what I’ve read since the window slammed shut, however I have to say that I could not disagree more. In fact I’m feeling more optimistic now than I have since Harry uttered the portentous words “this is as good as it gets for Spurs”!
The reason for this optimism is that by employing Pochettino, it would seem that the penny has at least dropped for Levy that he needs a manager who is capable of building a team, rather than one who swans in and demands that we sign players that in all likelihood are going to prove beyond our means or pulling power. Obviously there are no guarantees that Poch will be able to repeat the trick and get the club back where we all want to be, but on the face of it he seems to me to be a very good fit with what we need if we are to achieve that and I for one am pretty excited to see how he gets on.
Unfortunately though it seems the way I perceive the state of the club is destined to leave me perpetually at odds with the majority of our fans. When I was concerned that we’d lost sight of how we’d got into the CL in the first instance and that the wheels would fall off if we let the grass grow beneath us, I was labelled a Harry hater for daring to question the manager who had got us top 4 – when in reality I don’t hate Harry at all. I continued to support AVB when others were tearing their hair out at the dull football because I felt at least he was fairly in tune with the needs of the club, even if his modus operandi left something to be desired. And now I find myself feeling optimistic when the majority of our fans seem to be baying for the chairman’s blood for not splashing the cash and bemoaning the fact they no longer identify with any of our players.
Such is life I guess, however I just hope beyond hope that the lynch mob don’t start to get on Poch’s back if it takes some time for him to do his stuff, because that would be utterly self defeating and there’s only so many times we can shoot ourselves in the foot without crippling the club.
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