One day after the close of the summer transfer window, Tottenham Hotspur club officials are looking at some serious fan anger over the way the club handled their transfer business. After a lengthy, strangely public, and ultimately futile courtship of West Brom forward Saido Berahino, the club, and more specifically club chairman Daniel Levy, has faced some intense backlash from Tottenham fans on social media.
Today, Daniel Levy issued a rare public statement about the club's transfer dealings and the state of the team. The statement was released on Tottenham's website and included direct quotes from Levy and Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino. Levy's statement in particular, while not addressing any individual players specifically, nonetheless directly spoke to some of the issues and perceived misinformation that has been swirling around the club since the close of the window.
"We have never, as a Club, spoken about another team's players and I am not about to do so now. However, I do want to make a few general points regarding transfers.
Firstly, there is hardly a transfer concluded across Europe which doesn't include staged payments. This is particularly so when significant amounts such as £20m-£30m are involved - players don't come cheaply these days.
Secondly, we do not make anything personal. None of the proposals, discussions or negotiations we undertake involve any personal elements or ego - everything we do is in the interest of what is best for our Club.
Thirdly, we never make anything public, particularly in the best interests of the players involved. Making aspects such as transfer requests public is wholly disrespectful to a player.
Our pragmatic player trading has been important in the way we have run the business of the Club and in getting us to the position where we have now been able to start work on a new stadium - the one thing that has the ability to take this Club to the next level of competitiveness. I make no apologies for being ambitious for our Club and looking to deliver future success for our fans."
This is a pretty direct refutation of the allegations made by West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace in his public statements made in the wake of Tottenham's failed bids. Levy's statement is an attempt by the club to get ahead of the issue and to combat a couple of major pieces of what the club believes is misinformation now accepted by Spurs fans as truth: that the so-called "staged payments" offered by Spurs to West Brom for Berahino's transfer fee were an attempt by Levy to be "cheap," and that Tottenham was directly involved in turning Berahino against his current club for the sole purpose of forcing through a transfer.
It's also a pretty thorough take-down of Peace's extremely public, and frankly downright odd, responses to Tottenham's bids for Berahino. While leaks to the press are commonplace in football (how else do we know about them?), I can't recall a situation in recent memory where a chairman of a football club has publicly refuted and rejected a bid via a statement on a club's website, and simultaneously criticized a rival club on its transfer dealings while the window is still open.
Meanwhile, the statement also included quotes from Pochettino on the philosophy behind the club's transfer dealings in this window:
"In Dele [Alli], Sonny [Son Heung-Min] and Clinton [N'Jie] we have three young, fast and exciting players who can play in several different attacking positions, giving us good options.
All of them had impressive seasons in their respective leagues last season and we are excited about their potential alongside that of our current players.
I have been very clear that we would only add players that we felt would improve us and if any one player was not possible then I prefer we do not add for the sake of it. Much has been said about us only having one recognised striker in Harry - I don't accept this at all - the positional play of today's forwards means it's too simplistic to look for goals from any one position - playing a fluid style means players switch. Also we secured Sonny and Clinton in the knowledge that we may not be adding any other forward."
It's rare that any club so directly talks about the strategy that goes into acquiring players. Fans may clamor for this level of information, but the clubs are not obligated to talk about it, so this is a rare and unique look into how Pochettino intends to set up the Tottenham squad for the remainder of the season. Of particular note is the emphasis Poche placed on saying that he wouldn't add players for the sake of adding players. This may explain why Spurs closed the window without adding a central midfielder: if Pochettino determined that signing the available midfielders wouldn't be an upgrade over staying with Eric Dier, then the cost would outweigh the benefits.
Likewise, Pochettino is clearly emphasizing signing offensive-minded players that are flexible and can play in multiple positions, another reason the club nearly signed Saido Berahino. In this light, it does make a certain amount of sense that Spurs were looking at these kinds of players and are content with Clinton and Son as the primary backups to Harry Kane.
A statement of this nature by Tottenham is probably a very smart move at this point. With fans still fuming over what they believe is a further continuation of the Daniel Levy narrative of him as a last-minute penny-pinching business-first misanthrope without a Plan B (one, I should point out, that is not wholly undeserved based on past dealings), this is a way to set the record straight and to shift the narrative focus away from what went wrong to what went right. It hits, and attempts to debunk, all the major talking points and provides an insight into the club that Spurs fans are not used to hearing. With luck, it might also have the effect of soothing frayed nerves from Tottenham supporters.