So as the transfer window dust settles, it’s time to examine whether Spurs chairman Daniel Levy‘s brinkmanship style of transfer management was successful or not. Levy is famous for taking things right to the last minute in the hope of squeezing out a few million more from buying clubs, and knocking a few million off the asking price from selling clubs.
In the past, this strategy has had mixed results. Levy squeezed a combined £52m from Liverpool and Man Utd respectively for Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, two “good but not great” players. However, he pushed these deals so hard that he had no time left to buy replacement strikers, and Spurs played with the pedestrian Roman Pavyluchenko and the inexperienced Frazer Campbell. After eight games, Spurs had two points and manager Juande Ramos was sacked.
So, what of this season? To his credit, Levy offloaded a large number of players that manager Andre Villas-Boas didn’t want, presumably trimming the wage bill, too. He haggled Real Madrid up from £23m to £33m for Luka Modric and left enough time to spend the proceeds. The sale of Rafael Van Der Vaart to Hamburg for £11m was peculiar to me, but he does have fitness issues and presumably the sale had the blessing of AVB.
Of the incomings, all the players are of a good quality and were not exorbitant purchases. Getting France & Lyon goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris for an initial £7.9m and US midfielder Clint Dempsey for £6m are both great deals.
However, most Spurs fans know that the big need for at least 18 months now has been for another top drawer striker. Many feel that such a striker would have got Spurs CL football in the last two years. There’s no doubt that Levy tried—Damiao and Remy were the main targets, but despite weeks of effort, nothing happened. The other major saga was around Portugese midfielder Moutinho, who AVB indentified as a Modric replacement and the player he really wanted, months ago. It never happened.
Another narrative has emerged around Levy: that he is too hard a negotiator and that this is affecting Tottenham’s reputation and is the cause of Spurs constantly struggling to start the season well. Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said yesterday: “It’s been very, very difficult……the negotiation with the Tottenham directors has been the hardest I have ever had to undergo in these 25 years.”
The most telling quote from Aulas was the suggestion that Levy deliberately seeks to strike deals at the end of the transfer window: “The first negotiation was at the start of the window….and then nothing for about a month and a half. The negotiation then picked up again about a week ago.”
Of course, Levy has a boss to keep happy in Joe Lewis. He has to be financially sensible, and he also has to pay for Spurs’ new training ground and their ambitious new stadium plans. He also has to try to get back into the Champions League when there are at least five clubs with more financial muscle and eight teams with bigger stadia. It’s a tough job, but you can’t help feeling that if all his business was conducted 2-3 weeks ago, that Spurs wouldn’t have been much worse off.