Day Two of the Danny Rose fiasco (chyron: Every Rose Has Its Thorn) is bringing fresh hell for Tottenham Hotspur supporters as they try to make sense of Rose’s interview with Dave Kidd of The Sun. Rose’s comments, in which he almost demanded Tottenham sign quality new players and strongly hinted at his dissatisfaction with the wage structure at Hotspur Way, has split opinion amongst Spurs supporters. There is, however, near universal agreement that the timing of Rose’s interview, just three days before the start of the season, was poor and that his decision to speak to The Sun was at best tactless and at worst blatantly disrespectful.
A new article in the Times on Friday suggests that club officials are livid at Rose’s decision to speak to the media and air his grievances, but that he is privately receiving support from other members of Tottenham’s first team who are similarly disillusioned with Spurs’ wage structure as compared to other clubs in the league.
However, many of his senior team-mates are supportive as they are similarly frustrated with the club’s pay structure and the fact that the chairman, Daniel Levy, and the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, have not signed a single player this summer.
These Tottenham players’ frustrations are exacerbated by seeing Watford and West Ham United pay new signings nearly double the amount that they are on. Andre Gray, Watford’s £18.5 million signing from Burnley, will earn £95,000 a week at Vicarage Road, while Marko Arnautovic, who joined West Ham from Stoke City for £25 million, is on £110,000 a week.
— Matt Hughes, The Times
Hughes goes on to suggest that if Chelsea were to make a large bid for him, Rose would be willing to leave Spurs for the Blues, but that the club has no absolutely intention of selling him. Spurs are reported as saying the Rose situation is an “internal matter,” he was made to apologize, and was fined two weeks’ wages. Hughes hypothesizes that Rose could command a transfer fee of £50m.
If there were any doubts that there would be blowback from Rose’s decision to speak out, this pretty much ends them. Rose’s unhappiness with his situation at Tottenham is bad enough, but even worse is it has exposed what appears to be a deep and growing divide between a talented Tottenham Hotspur side and the club hierarchy, who cling to a wage structure that is significantly lower than many of the other clubs in the league.
As a fan, and as someone who has been writing about Tottenham Hotspur for the better part of six years, I see both sides of this. The new TV rights deal has even lower-table clubs flush with cash, a situation that has led in part to inflated transfer fees and higher wages across the board. Tottenham have a chairman in Daniel Levy who is of the opinion that the current money bubble in football is unsustainable, and is determined to position Spurs to be in the best possible financial situation if and when that bubble bursts. Levy has been a huge figure in Tottenham’s recent history, and the club’s rise from upper-mid table to title contenders in ten years while maintaining fiscal stability is laudatory, and due in no small part to his leadership.
But tell that to the players who want to get paid. Tottenham caught lightning in a bottle two seasons ago when it successfully retooled under a young, dynamic — and ultimately cheap — core of players. Success perhaps came too early for Spurs: it has numerous legitimate stars on its roster and a fantastic manager, but while the strict wage caps and series of incremental new contracts and wage bumps worked for a time, the departure of Kyle Walker no doubt raised some eyebrows in Spurs’ changing room.
The new stadium is supposed to help close the financial gap between Spurs and its rivals, but that stadium doesn’t open for another year, and Spurs remain adamant that they cannot afford to pay players like Chelsea, the Manchester clubs, Arsenal, or even Liverpool. Still, it doesn’t take a genius to see that as wages and fees have exploded across the league, Spurs’ superstars are starting to wonder why they’re not getting some of that action.
It’s certainly not helped by Spurs sitting on a nest-egg of over £70m in player sales without bringing in any players with three weeks left to go in the window. Neither does it help that the likes of Watford and Everton are shelling out significant wages to players that are, to be honest, not as good as what Spurs have in their starting XI.
What we don’t know yet is what this means going forward. Spurs are expected to spend in the transfer window, with at the very least Ross Barkley expected to join at some point. It seems unlikely that Rose’s interview grenade is going to sway Levy or anyone in the club hierarchy to open up the pocketbooks anytime soon — contracts take time to process anyway, and any sign of weakness on Spurs’ part will no doubt be ruthlessly exploited by player agents and could lead to a cascading series of player demands for increased wages. The likely result in the short term is a hard line, and further simmering player discontent. Who knows what will happen after that.
Rose’s actions, and the player response as reported in the Times and elsewhere, display the first glimpses of unrest within what was considered a extremely tight-knit squad with excellent team unity as recently as the end of last season. It’s one of the first chinks in Pochettino’s armor that we’ve seen, and it’s a really big one. What we don’t yet know is whether the incredible Tottenham squad from the past two seasons will be brought to its knees by a self-inflicted wound.