On June 19, 2013, Franco Baldini was appointed technical director of Tottenham Hotspur. At the time everyone around the club was very excited by the appointment. We weren't really sure what Baldini was going to do, but if nothing else he gave Spurs the Director of Football that then-manager Andre Villas-Boas had clamored for. If nothing else, Baldini would be a "football guy" in the front office to take away some responsibilities from chairman Daniel Levy.
Despite uncertainty over his role, we knew exactly what we could expect from Baldini in terms of his skill set as a talent evaluator and signing players. In his tenures as technical director at Roma and Real Madrid, Baldini had built a reputation as a guy who was able to spot good young talent, particularly defensive talent. However, he also had the reputation of getting rid of money like he was allergic to it. Certainly, this is a strategy that works fine at Real Madrid, but at Roma, and possibly at Spurs, it was more problematic.
Baldini didn't waste much time in getting to work for Spurs. Reports kept coming in all summer about the Italian being in Valencia to negotiate with Roberto Soldado, Madrid to talk to Real Madrid about Gareth Bale (and possibly Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Morata), and Roma to sign Erik Lamela. That's just the things we know about for sure. Presumably, Baldini was even more busy than that.
While there is literally no way to know if these were guys Baldini was picking or if they were being identified by Levy or Villas-Boas, the fact of the matter is that Baldini spent his budget and brought in a lot of players. I think I speak for pretty much everyone when I say that nearly all of Spurs summer signings have been disappointing—either in their performances or in their lack of playing time—and that, ultimately, may lead to Baldini's downfall.
For Spurs, this season has been marked by the search for someone to blame. First, it was Villas-Boas for playing boring football and being to single-minded in his tactics. Then, it was Tim Sherwood's fault for being "no-minded" in his tactics (or tactically Amish, as some are wont to say). Finally, the fan's ire has turned to Levy and ENIC, because if it's not the fault of the managers, then it must come down to the owner. Baldini, however, has largely escaped criticism in the media and from the fans, perhaps due to uncertainty about his actual role at the club, but don't think that the club has overlooked him.
Levy has had technical directors in the past and, as with managers, he has shown little patience for their failings. David Pleat had an odd tenure as both Director of Football and manager; Frank Arnesen lasted barely a year (though his departure was more due to Roman Abramovich's deep pockets, than Levy's impatience), Damien Comolli replaced him and proceeded to clash frequently with Martin Jol. Commolli was shown the door when the Juande Ramos failed and power over transfers returned to Levy and new manager Harry Redknapp. The prudent thing to do might have been to allow Comolli to continue building the team that Levy desired, but we all know that Redknapp successfully guided Spurs to the Champions League and two fourth place finishes, so it's hard to totally fault Levy's decision making.
Levy has long held to his belief in a continental system which includes a manager and a director of football and the appointment of Baldini signaled, at the very least, that he was not ready to abandon that belief. Andre Villas-Boas was rumored to have clashed on several occasions with Baldini over the players that were brought in. Also, Tim Sherwood, the current Tottenham manager, has stated unequivocally, that he will be the man to sign players this summer, not Baldini. Sherwood went so far as to say, "Nobody else will come in unless I sanction it." Sherwood's future is, perhaps, just as tenuous as Baldini's, but for the moment Sherwood seems to be planning on filling the role of technical director himself.
It's looking increasingly likely that Baldini will be the man to take the fall for Tottenham's failure to achieve Champions League qualification. That's almost certainly not fair, given the amount of turnover in the squad, but if the club is going to give one, potentially two managers, the boot in the space of six months, then perhaps changes to the entire system are necessary. Personally, I think the continental system is great. However, it's a bit like communism: great only in theory. Sure, some clubs—Ajax, Lyon, and Barcelona to name a few—have had a great deal of success with a director of football, but that success doesn't seem to have translated to England. Maybe the best course of action for Spurs is to sack Baldini and let whoever manages the club next season sign new players. It worked well enough in the era between Directors of Football.