In his letter, Levy basically admits that the club screwed up on multiple fronts — the European Super League and the appointment of Jose Mourinho in particular. It is the clearest admission yet that the club, and by extension Levy, took its eye off the ball during the construction of Tottenham’s new stadium, losing sight of what made Spurs important and essential to supporters.
I have said it many times and I will say it again – everything we do is in the long-term interests of the Club. I have always been and will continue to be ambitious for our Club and its fans.
As a Club we have been so focused on delivering the stadium and dealing with the impact of the pandemic, that I feel we lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA. Our work in the community and with the NHS is an example of when we get it right, but we don’t get everything right. It has never been because we don’t care about or respect you, our fans – nothing could be further from the truth.
That’s a pretty big statement to make, and a recognition that things haven’t gone according to plan. However, recognizing that there’s a problem is only the first step — now Levy has to actually do something to solve it. One of the criticisms that Levy has faced from supporters is that he’s taken on far too much personal responsibility over the past few years with regards to running the club. He seems to acknowledge it in the above excerpt — the bit about being so focused on delivering the stadium we lost sight of priorities and the club DNA is telling.
However, there’s an easy way for Levy to change the culture at the club, and it starts with delegating responsibility. Levy is unquestionably an outstanding businessman, as is clear from how the club has exploded in value and international stature since ENIC took control of the club. But it’s also clear that as good as his financial acumen is, his status as a “football man” has taken a pretty heavy beating. Levy would do well to delegate a good chunk of the football-side of club operations to someone else, like a Director of Football. It’s possible he’s working on that, but for now it’s all speculation.
The other key points in Levy’s statement dealt with the aftermath of the Super League, and the appointment of a new manager.
We have announced we shall establish a Club Advisory Panel that we believe will provide wide, authentic representation and ensure our fans are at the heart of Club decisions, with the Chair to be appointed annually as a Non-Executive of the Board with full voting rights, a first for any Premier League club.
We shall focus on the recruitment of a new Head Coach. We are acutely aware of the need to select someone whose values reflect those of our great Club and return to playing football with the style for which we are known – free-flowing, attacking and entertaining – whilst continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our Academy alongside experienced talent.
We’ve discussed the fan representation on the board already, and noted that it goes further than Chelsea’s token representation, announced earlier. Even though the board and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust are currently engaged in a cold war of some sort, having a board member with voting rights that represents fan interest is a huge win for the Trust, and for Spurs fans in general.
The manager bit is also extremely interesting. The club has been virtually air tight with regards to leaks about who will be leading out the team next year, but Levy’s admission that he wants to bring in a manager who respects Spurs’ traditional “values” of “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining” football is a big tell. It seems to eliminate some of the names of potential candidates with more defensive tactics, obviously, but also is tantamount to an admission that he got the appointment of Jose Mourinho disastrously wrong.
Mourinho was not a fit for Tottenham’s culture, as was made pretty clear, and the tactics rankled many supporters including myself, not just because they didn’t fit with Spurs’ current group of players but also because they were boring. This may be as close as we ever get to Daniel Levy explicitly saying “I screwed up by hiring Jose,” but it’s definitely not nothing.
These kinds of statements are often boilerplate, and there’s probably little to nothing that Levy can do to assuage a certain segment of Tottenham’s fans apart from resign, which is not going to happen. However, this time there’s some really good nuggets of information between the lines of Levy’s letter. It’s a critical crossroads for Spurs — the pandemic, the Super League, and Harry Kane’s desire to leave have put Levy in a tight spot. There are big decisions to be made, and his margin for error is small. Those decisions are likely to set Spurs’ course for the next few years, and could be the difference between renewed success and continued stagnation.