Tottenham Hotspur are in the process of undergoing a major shakeup in the way they operate, one that goes all the way down to the developmental academy. Today the club announced that academy director Dean Rastrick has departed the club “in order to pursue new challenges and opportunities.”
The Club can today announce that Dean Rastrick has decided to step away from his role as Academy Manager in order to pursue new challenges and opportunities.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 13, 2023
Rastrick’s tenure at the club lasted 13 years, first as Academy Performance Director before taking over as Academy Manager in January 2021 when former long time academy head John McDermott left Tottenham for a developmental role with the English FA. There are unconfirmed reports that Rastrick has left for a similar role in the FA under McDermott.
It’s tempting to view this as yet another failure of Daniel Levy, scaring off an established member of the backroom team by his own micromanagement and incompetence, but the truth is the academy hasn’t been very good for a while now. Spurs have been hemorrhaging its best talent, with a number of youngsters opting to run down their contracts and sign with other clubs because they don’t see a future for themselves at Tottenham. We saw this most recently with Romaine Mundle, who turned down a contract extension and is considering offers from clubs in Belgium, but there have been other notable departures from the academy in recent years.
We’ve also heard a lot of grumbling about a disconnect between the academy and the first team as well — tactics not carrying over, players (under Conte) called up to the first team to be used as “training cones,” etc. And the U21s were recently relegated from the Premier League 2 Division 1, which is frankly embarrassing. It’s clear the academy needs some work, though the issue is certainly complicated and there are a lot of factors that are likely contributing to it.
And buried at the bottom of Tottenham’s news release about this transition is the following statement: “We have recently strengthened our coaching and recruitment departments and will provide further details on our structure and personnel in due course.” That suggests to me that the academy is part of the overall revisioning of the club’s recruitment structure, and that the club is aware of the need for better academy development and a viable path to the first team for its youngsters.
Rastrick has been a good and faithful servant to the club, but I’m still choosing to view this as an opportunity to change the way the academy works in the midst of an overall club restructure. We’ll likely hear about what Spurs’ plans are for the academy in the coming days and weeks. Hopefully that new structure will pay dividends down the road.