This past summer has been one of the most turbulent in Tottenham Hotspurs history, changes have come in almost all aspects of the club, from personnel to facilities nothing and no one has been safe from the clubs evolution. There has been a complete 180-degree turn around in the way the club is viewed from the outside and this is in no small part down to the way the club have handled themselves not only in the transfer market but with Harry Redknapp.
It is a risk to say this is the start of a new era, (Jacques Santini/Juande Ramos) and a new manager does not necessarily constitute one however no matter how you look at it, this is the start of something new, four of the most prominent figures at the club last season are now gone, a new coach with his own philosophy on the way football should be played has been brought in while there is the state of the art £30m Bull Cross training complex the team are set to move into.
The most definitive change Levy and co brought about this summer was the change in manager. On one hand to replace a man who, (as he loved to remind everyone) came into a struggling Tottenham side lingering at the bottom of the table and took them to the quarter final of the Champions League, is a decision that raises eyebrows especially considering he replicated the previous finish of 4th place last season. On the other hand however Harry had been flirting with the F.A since his court hearing, a turbulent time for 65 year old in which the club stood by and backed him fully. The revelations that Harry writes like a two year old, can’t spell and doesn’t know what an email is, even if it was for the courts purpose, only served to make him look a weaker candidate in the eyes of those who mattered. The England job was all but Harrys according to the press however with the benefit of hindsight it does seem somewhat of a stretch to have expected the F.A to employ someone who, despite having the publics unanimous backing would demand a huge fee, had the tax dodging mishap just months prior, and even had a BBC Panorama episode dedicated to his ‘tapping up’ of players along with Kevin Bond in their days at Portsmouth. Most within football knew of Harrys ‘dealings’ and his desire to earn while managing clubs, to such an extent that at Portsmouth he earned a percentage of the profit made on players he brought in and sold on. Sandbanks is expensive.
The club captain, Ledley King announced his retirement earlier this summer. A player gifted with an extraordinary footballing brain, the guile and agility of someone half his size and one of the most constant professionals left the game after forging his career at Tottenham, a one-club man is rare. He has undoubtedly cemented his place as a club legend, and many fans feel the number 26 should be retired. While he was not Tottenham’s most consistent performer he was still up there with Kabul as the clubs best defensive options last season. Similarly Modric was the best midfielder and one of Europe’s most gifted talents, his transfer fiasco was long and drawn out but ultimately beneficial for Spurs, he was always going to go and for the price plus add-ons that Levy commanded this can be seen as a astute deal while a club partnership with Madrid is nothing to be scoffed at. VDV, while being perpetually unable to run for more than one hour, is a talented player, a cultured finisher that is an asset for any club. These players needed replacing, whether the summer transfer dealings were enough only time will tell, anyone who has watched Tottenham play for the past two seasons would say that these are three players vital to the clubs success, replacements can not necessarily be brought but rather nurtured for a club of Tottenham’s stature.
Despite the absence of Moutinho at The Lane this summers transfer market has been a positive one and has brought about several of Europe’s top young prospects to the club. Vertonghen is a future Spurs captain, Lloris at only 25 has already forged out a fantastic career that sees him captain his country, Dempsey adds extra attacking options while the club will benefit financially in the US and Dembele is clearly a very highly rated, highly skilled footballer that is proven in the Premiership. Sigurdsson is yet another exciting young player that almost certainly represents the type of signing Levy was after, with a high sell on price the risk involved in these type of transfers is relatively small. With these players, along with Ade joining the squad permanently the detrimental effect loosing such influential players as Modric and King can inflict will hopefully be offset.
Much has been written on AVB’s tactics in the past 12 months, understandably so when a manager relies so heavily on his own research and methodologies. Harry however was just about the opposite of this, a manager that often stated that he preferred to pick the team and let them play over giving them detailed instructions about positional play. This was not just the case at Tottenham, Harry has relied on this style of management throughout his career, much like AVB has. Levy clearly had his own ideas in regards to the future direction and style that the club goes forward with and he has hired the best manager available to achieve this. The possession game that AVB demands will be unfamiliar to a Spurs squad that countered so effectively under Redknapp, so far however despite it only being three games the teams percentage is amongst the best in the league.
Levy has not just replaced Redknapp but has completely replaced how fellow fans and critics view the club. Harry was the tabloid darling despite his troubles with the tax man for a multitude of reasons, his wheeler dealer image (never say that to his face) always allowed for great deadline day viewing and his numerous quips make for great segments and quotes. AVB however has developed an extremely poor relationship with the press, this was apparent not only at Chelsea but at their reaction to him getting the Spurs job, AVB does not pander to the papers rather protects his team with a level of over confidence associated with Mourinho. Lastly many people associated with Spurs felt that Harry never truly nurtured younger players, favouring experience. While this is not the case with all players, Bale for example emerged under Harry, there are a number of examples where Redknapp was perhaps watching his back, if he felt he was leaving one way or another what is the advantage of giving a young player minutes playing when it can weaken the team. AVB however has a better reputation for the implementation of young players and hopefully the likes of Sandro, Livermore and Caulker will all benefit.
The press and apparently a good number of the fans are pessimistic about Tottenham’s chances this year, several times a finish between 6th and 10th has been predicted by people that get paid for their opinion, yet you will struggle to find anyone that writes for a national that predicted spurs a top 4. This is in part due to the departures however the press and their distain for AVB may well be a more likely reason. A more realistic finishing place this season for Spurs will be a top 6 finish challenging for a Champions League place, the last part of this will depend on how the signings gel, how well the players adapt to a new system and the January transfer window. Right now is an exciting time to support Spurs, the new training ground looks spectacular and will be a huge boost to the club, a new ground looks to be on the horizon, (don’t hold me to that) the new, younger squad and manager will take time to adapt however this is sure to be an exciting time and will bring with it some of the attractive football Spurs fans crave.