If you had to choose one member of the Tottenham family that you worry about the most, who did not wear a lily white shirt on game day, you'd say Harry Redknapp. Redknapp has had the highest praises and the lowest criticisms hurled at him. He brought Tottenham to Champions League glory, but his stubborn insistence on using the 4-4-2 leaves a poor taste in much of the fanbase's mouths. His lustful desire for Joe Cole and other aging English superstars does him no favors as well, and many view Redknapp as a tactically poor manager, but a gem of a talent evaluator in older players. Many will not begrudge his exit once Fabio Capello resigns from the English National Team, as it seems everyone and their mother has determined that Redknapp shall be the next coach of the Three Lions. After Redknapp, the second most common name you'll hear when asked who the fans worry about, is Daniel Levy's. Levy has been a constant presence with Tottenham since George Graham, and likely will continue to be after Redknapp leaves.
Daniel Levy appeared in headlines almost daily over the past summer, as every day there was a new quote from him regarding the transfer saga of Luka Modric. For three months Levy held a hard line that Modric was not for sale, but never wavered, in the face of threats from Modric's agent over his unhappiness staying in Tottenham and desire to play Champions League football and receive a fair wage. It seemed that every week was met with a new rumor; either Chelsea upping their bid for Modric, Tottenham searching for a replacement for Modric, Redknapp making a comment that seemed like it would cause a controversy in the negotiations, and either a real or slightly fabricated quote from Modric himself. Most of the time a statement made by one party would be contradicted by the same party the next week. In all this time however, Levy held the same line, which was that Modric was not for sale and Tottenham intended to compete for a Champions League spot. Modric, Chelsea, and even Redknapp appeared frustrated, as were many fans who saw the Leandro signing not happening and began to clamor to have Modric leave in order to have money to spend in the transfer window, wanting significant upgrades.
Let's take a step back though and take a look at Levy's reputation up until this point. Tottenham is technically owned by ENIC International Ltd., an investment company, owned through Tavistock Group by Joe Lewis. Levy before becoming Chairman of Tottenham served as a director for Rangers. In 2001 Levy became chairman of Tottenham Hotspur. In quick succession Graham was sacked, and over the next four years Glenn Hoddle, David Pleat, and Jacques Santini all tried their hand at managing the club. In 2004 Martin Jol was hired, and with him Tottenham reached heights they had never reached since the EPL was formed, finishing fifth in back to back years. However, after a poor start in 2007 Levy sacked Jol, a move that many believed to be rash and controversial at the time. Hiring Juande Ramos, Tottenham achieved their first trophy in a decade but league performance lagged behind. On October 25th, 2008, Ramos, Sporting Director Damien Comolli, and most of the staff were sacked and replaced by Harry Redknapp. The rest is history.
Coming around full circle, in August of this year Tottenham proceeded to get drubbed by Manchester United and Manchester City. Modric missed the Manchester United game and City game. Rumors continued to fester, up until that point Brad Freidel had been the only notable signing of the summer and injuries to the midfield forced Jake Livermore into the starting eleven. As the deadline approached, rumors of Chelsea increasing their offer to 40 million and including Daniel Sturridge flew across the internet, but Levy held firm to keeping Modric around. At the deadline Tottenham sold off a lot of dead weight in the forms of Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, and Alan Hutton. The only move in was Scott Parker, who had been a stalwart midfielder for West Ham United and others over the past decade, but was regarded as having no resale value and without a place in the Tottenham starting eleven.
More important to Levy over the past year, however, has been his drive to secure a new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur. This came in the form of a bidding war against West Ham United for what would become the vacant Olympic Stadium that had been built in Stratford, many miles from Tottenham's current Haringey home. Fans were against the move from White Hart Lane and considered it sacrilegious, abandoning the smaller but more intimate and fearsome Lane for the gigantic and cavernous Olympic Stadium. Haringey citizens also were outraged as Tottenham and the stadium provided the maligned area with support and job opportunities. Levy had pushed for the move as a response to the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules as well as the need for added revenue in order to consistently compete for a top four spot in English football. The plan had superseded a previous plan of his that would have built a fifty-six thousand seat stadium near the current Lane. After losing the bid to West Ham, Levy began threatening litigation and would fight the decision, however incentive provided by London mayor Boris Johnson has persuaded Levy to possibly revert back to his old plan of building a new stadium in Haringey.
Over much of the transfer saga and stadium fighting, Levy has been maligned by the fans and the press for not realizing his place and for worshiping money over loyalty and support. However, I do not find this to be altogether true. If anything, his moves have proven that Levy has perhaps been the most ambitious Spur of all. Under his guidance and leadership, he has led Tottenham into the Top 15 list of richest clubs in all of Europe. We've also reached top class European football for the first time in what seems like ages, and Levy has done all of this without resorting to having Joe Lewis supplant the club with his own personal fortune or by relying on bank loans, as Manchester City and other clubs have done. Tottenham's youth academy has drastically improved since he has taken over, and the strict wage structure put into place has kept the team not only solvent, but very profitable and gives them the ability to compete for most big targets in the transfer window. Almost every move he has made has been forward thinking, and almost every move he has made has been little publicized. Rather than resort to making a big splash in the transfer window, he has been judicial with the use of the teams transfer kitty since sacking Comolli, and has rarely stepped horribly wrong.
After the debacles that were the Manchester games, Tottenham has been perfect the rest of the way in the league, taking six points from Arsenal and Liverpool. Scott Parker has proved to be a master stroke by Redknapp and Levy, and Modric appears to be placated now that a return to the Champions League is well in sight. Purchases facilitated by Levy such as Sandro (the product of a link created by Levy between Tottenham and Internacional) the loan of Emmanuel Adebayor, and the purchase of Rafael van der Vaart have injected the team with world class international players that have brought us to this new peak in Tottenham history. I was with you over the entire summer, worrying about what Levy's end plan was and how we could ever be expected to improve by simply keeping an unhappy Modric. Yet look how much we know now after a single month.
I've learned now to simply support the ambitions Levy has for this club, for they surely seem to aim much higher than mine.