Levy’s House of Cards is Crumbling

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Over the past 22 years, Daniel Levy has assembled an elaborate house of cards in North London, one built on false promises, and designed for profit. Today, that house is crumbling, and in imminent danger of falling apart.

It’s a fantastical story. Boyhood Spurs fan founds investment company, then uses it to purchase the club he loves. True riches to riches stuff. But it’s a fairy tale. A myth, woven from fantasy. Levy has admitted as much himself.

The last 22 years have showed this rather unequivocally. There is no interest in football. The interest is purely financial. 

Sunday’s abomination against Newcastle — another nadir in the ENIC era — did not happen in isolation. It was the culmination of two decades worth of failed gambles, of a club drifting aimlessly through the void, bereft of strategy, direction, or hope. For the watching public, Tottenham’s issues were laid bare in bewildering fashion. How could a team in fourth spot, with designs on the Champions League, capitulate so pathetically? For Tottenham fans, both the result, and the performance, came as no surprise. It was a harsh, cathartic reminder of how deep the problems actually run. 

Spurs have long been plagued by systemic, widespread dysfunction, but those issues have rarely come to the surface so brutally, and so publicly. Between dumb luck, managerial influence, and Harry Kane’s individual brilliance, many of the cracks that have appeared in the past few years have been papered over. Newcastle, over the period of twenty one dizzying minutes, exposed them in devastating fashion. Within nine minutes, a hapless Spurs team were 3-0 down, utterly devoid of ideas, cohesion, or even pride. By the twenty first minute mark, Newcastle were 5-0 up. It was one of the most lopsided and embarrassing performances the Premier League has ever seen. And it served as a visceral, jarring reminder of the deep rooted rot that’s set in at Tottenham Hotspur football club. 

In the dressing room Hugo Lloris refused to come out for the second half. Whether truly injured or not, it was hardly the show of leadership the club so desperately needed. In the dugout, Christian Stellini looked like a man who had no idea what he was doing, who seemed as perplexed as everyone else that he was tasked with the responsibility of managing a Premier League side. And in the boardroom, the powers that be were typically absent; scurrying off to board their private jets, afraid to show their faces in public. 

In the aftermath of the dismal defeat, Daniel Levy accepted ultimate blame for the mess the club finds itself in, and took ownership of his mistakes…by firing yet another manager. Christian Stellini, the man appointed to steady the ship after Conte’s departure was let go, another helpless scapegoat removed to spare the chairman’s blushes. 

The reality is that none of what’s happened this season should come as a surprise to anyone. A football team is a reflection of its leadership. The mentality all stems from the top down, where the culture, ethos and philosophy is set. A fish, as we all know, rots from the head down. 

And it’s here where the club is most deficient. There has long been a gaping hole at Tottenham, a vacuum where smart, ambitious direction should be.  The club is aimless, rudderless, lurching from one disaster to the next. How can the players be expected to show pride, fight and drive to compete, when those at the very top exemplify the polar opposite? 

ENIC’s Tottenham has always been built on the most tenuous of foundations. A club who loiters and lurks around the transfer markets, picking at the scraps left over by the bigger clubs like some wary, starving vulture. Doing the absolute bare minimum to tread water and stay within sight of the European spots, while steadfastly refusing to ever do anything that might seriously trouble the elite.

The problem, however, with treading water for too long, is that inevitably, you start to sink. This of course, is not news, nor should it be a surprise to anyone. Stasis is the death knell to any organization — in any industry — and yet it is the preeminent cultural mindset at Tottenham. Levy has bucked the trend of successful teams, allowing his teams instead to stagnate and wither, demanding top tier results while providing bottom tier recruitment. 

One cursory glance at Tottenham’s defence drives home this point. Spurs have the fifth worst defensive record in the entire league — worse than some clubs in the relegation fight. How much evidence does a club need to ascertain that its defenders are not fit for purpose? How many capitulations? How many embarrassing failures to hold onto leads? These calamities have been happening — with the same group of defenders — since the Pochettino era. It’s unconscionable that these very same players are still here, still making the same mistakes, still costing the club points, and in some cases, promoted to new positions, and awaiting new contracts. 

The great con of ENIC — of not just buying cheap, but retaining cheap — has never been more transparently obvious. Eric Dier, Ben Davies, and Davinson Sanchez would struggle in the Championship. That’s not hyperbole or satire, it’s fact. Yet here they are, untouchable at Tottenham Hotspur, a club ostensibly challenging for the Champions League, combining for a total of twenty four years of Premier League football. They wouldn’t have lasted this long at Southampton or Burnley. It’s unconscionable. 

So why are they still here? Fans continue to be deceived that world class managers such as Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte had some sort of fetish for bang average, barely mobile, haphazard defenders. The reality is more insidious, the answer plainly obvious. None were regular starters under Pochettino, the Argentine unable to trust any in big games, and using them only in emergencies. They’re here purely because they’re cheaper to keep than to replace, which essentially sums up the football club under the leadership of Daniel Levy. Always the cheaper option, always concerned with the bottom line; never proactive, always reactive. Spurs have been built on these foundations for decades now, and the grift is becoming harder and harder to cover up. 

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are not just world class managers; they’re world class defensive managers. Having worked with the likes of Chiellini, Bonucci, Terry, etc, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that having to watch Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez in training every day must have drained the very life from their souls. Yet they understood the parameters at the club, the limitations that meant that they were afraid of even asking for more. Both tried; Mourinho for Dias and Skriniar, Conte for Bastoni and Gvardiol. Both were met with the same answer: No. We’ll throw you some scraps in other positions you might not need (deals are available!), but no, upgrading your defence with the defenders the team desperately needs is not possible for a club like Tottenham. Despite being the highest revenue generating club in London, and the most profitable in the history of English football. No, we need those funds, you see, for new real estate and infrastructure projects, the true bread and butter of modern day Tottenham. 

And so fans — and fellow players — are doomed to watch these same calamitous defenders making the same catastrophic errors time after time, again and again, season after season. It would come as no surprise to see all three not just here next year, but on shiny new contracts. 

If you go through the squad, from back to front, you’ll see one thing that’s abundantly clear: this “very talented squad” as Levy keeps describing it, isn’t actually very good at all. 

It’s an incredible feat of gaslighting, to try to convince people that a squad that has now seen the back of four managers — two of which had won titles everywhere else they’d ever been — is, in fact, despite all evidence to the contrary, richly talented. Just awaiting the right manager to get the best out of them. No other chairman in world football would have the audacity to even attempt this. Yet this has been Levy’s modus operandi for 22 years. Give managers subpar tools, make them punch above, then watch as everything invariably unravels and implodes. 

Tottenham Hotspur, in its current form, is a paradox. Housed in one of the best — and most expensive — stadiums in the world, training at one of the best training grounds in the country, yet serving up a product that frequently borders on the farcical. How much longer can fans stomach this glaring incongruity? How much more will this discrepancy be allowed to continue? At what point do fans — and media — demand that off-field ambition is met with the same levels on the pitch? Levy’s great illusion has largely worked for much of the past two decades, but it feels like a tipping point is being reached.

While Levy is no stranger to adversity, the events of this season have been remarkable even by his standards. Sacking the manager, hiring his assistant, sacking the assistant, and then hiring the assistant’s assistant has to rank high in the annals of all time footballing blunders. You could call it a circus, but this sort of mismanagement would be offensive to clowns. For Daniel Levy, it’s just another day; another notch in a long, growing line of bumbling errors. 

The worst part about what’s unfolding now is that none of this is new. This is not about what’s happened this season. Or even over the past four years of turmoil. The forcing of second or third rate options on managers predates not just Mourinho or Conte, but even Pochettino. It’s been happening since 2001. Glen Hoddle famously entered talks with Rivaldo, only for Levy to pull out of the deal. Juande Ramos wanted Samuel Eto and David Villa, but was left with Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko. Harry Redknapp, within touching distance of a title challenge in 2012, asked for two quality reinforcements: Carlos Tevez in attack, and Gary Cahill in defence. He got a half-fit Luis Saha, and a semi-retired Ryan Nelson.  

These are not anomalous, isolated incidents. It’s a pattern, illustrative of the culture Levy has developed at the club, and indicative of the way he and his investment firm approach football. While for real estate ventures no undertaking is too large, and money seems no object, when it comes to footballing endeavors, there will always be a highly curtailed, limited budget available to managers. Regardless of how well they perform, or what pedigree they bring; this immutable truth remains. 

Georgio Chiellini said it best:

It’s the history of Tottenham.

In the end, they miss always something to arrive in the end

Georgio Chiellini

But more than any on field capitulations, trophy droughts, or on-pitch failures, this is the history of Tottenham Hotspur. That something they’re missing — and have been missing for over two decades now? Ambition and direction from above. Spurs are a club who whenever poised for success, will always see its chairman find a way to undermine its progress by taking the cheaper, easier route. The club is like Sisyphus crawling up the hill to get within touching distance of the summit, only for something to send him crashing back down again. For Tottenham over the past 22 years, that great, insurmountable obstacle, has come in the form of its chairman. 

Regardless of what tangential good he may have done in building his infrastructure projects and widening his real estate portfolio, Daniel Levy today is the greatest impediment to the club’s future success. He is the one who ensures the club never pushes on at the crucial junctures, who fails to capitalize on its hard earned potential, who fritters way all hope and optimism. He is the one who ensures that the club can never truly go toe to toe with its rivals, who sets the tone of mediocrity — and ultimately, he is the one who has put the club on the path to its longest trophy drought in its post-war history. 

The facts speak for themselves. Fifteen managers in the past twenty two years. Six managers (counting interims), in the past four years alone. Not a single season completed with the same manager since 2018. It is a damning, staggering, indictment of the sheer ineptitude and incompetence with which the club has been run — the sort of track record that would have seen Levy fire himself multiple times over. Yet at Tottenham, he faces almost zero scrutiny. 

An owner operating with impunity, without accountability, is not healthy for anyone — arguably not even himself. Levy has grown vain and conceited, unchallenged by anyone outside of a small cabal of like-minded sycophants, intoxicated by his own hubris. He has become less a chairman of a football club, and more a dictator of a hermit kingdom, one regulated and overseen by himself.  

For years he has been numb to the criticism, sealing himself in a bubble and refusing to allow the external reality to pierce his skin. These days, he appears to almost thrive on the animosity he faces — doubling down on his mistakes, blaming everyone and everything else, and ardently refusing to change. But there are signs that his powers of deception and manipulation are wearing thin. Where once he had scores of media and fans rallying to his support, for many, the penny appears to have finally dropped.

What’s undeniable is that more than at any time in his tumultuous 22 year reign, Daniel Levy is backed into a corner. Like most of his footballing troubles of the past two decades, the current debacle is a crisis all of his own making. Had he just backed the best manager he’d ever stumbled upon, we likely would not be here now. The great irony, of course is that even financially, the club would have been better off. How much money has he wasted hiring and firing managers since Pochettino? How much wasted expenditure on assistants and staff? How much, even on the players he is so loathed to sign? The problem with always searching for the cheaper option, is that in the long term, you actually end up spending more. 

Take the position of right back, for example. Back in 2009, Levy happened upon Kyle Walker, a £5m punt from Sheffield United, who went on the become the best attacking right back in the league. But as Walker grew restless, and demanded a higher salary more commensurate with his standing in the game, Levy refused. Walker left to pursue trophies, Levy banked £50m — 10 times his initial outlay — and smiled like a Cheshire Cat at his incredible business acumen. 

Yet six years and £120m later, Tottenham are still searching for a world class right back to replace Kyle Walker. It is another remarkable microcosm of Levy’s time at Tottenham; penny wise, pound foolish, trying desperately to find the cheaper option, and ending up costing the club not just in terms of money, but more crucially, in terms of wasted potential and opportunity. How much easier would it have been to have just paid Walker a proper salary, assuaged his trophy concerns, and held on to a player who was integral to the team’s style of play? The truth is that Spurs never recovered from his departure. 

The bigger issue is that this short sightedness is not unique to the right back position. This sort of recruitment malaise is evident across the pitch. In defence, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were two of the league’s top defenders. Years after their departure, neither has been replaced. Christian Eriksen, the team’s heartbeat, and only creative midfielder, not only has never been replaced — the club have failed to even bother to bring in a viable central attacking midfielder in his absence. This level of neglect is almost unthinkable for a top flight team. Yet it’s par for the course at Levy’s Tottenham, where “just make do” seems to be the only discernible footballing philosophy. 

Levy’s entire model is built on overachieving; having managers swim upstream, punching above their weight, perhaps stumbling upon a couple of bonafide stars along the way…and instead of using them as as a platform to build winning teams around, using them as an excuse to stand still. We’ve seen it countless times now, where the progress of a promising team has been systematically destroyed by the lack of ambition from above. 

Harry Kane is a living embodiment of this philosophy. Tottenham unearthed that rarest, and most precious of footballers; a home grown academy product, and lifelong fan of the club, who went on to become one of the greatest strikers in world football. Yet instead of building winning teams around him, Levy used his prodigious talent as justification for inaction; as collateral in his side quest to further his own financial aspirations. 

At any other club, under any other owners, Harry Kane’s career would be littered with trophies. Under Poch, under Jose, under Conte — the opportunities to push on and move to the next level were manifold. All were squandered by the ineptitude and neglect of one man. 

Kane now, in all likelihood, wants out. And who can blame him? The club had its shot — almost a decade of ruthless, machine like consistency, irrespective of the chaos and upheaval around him. But Levy never provided the team he deserved around him. He’s given him Championship level defenders, relegation quality attacking options, and in some cases, neglected entirely to even fill the squad with replacements for departing players. For a long time now, Harry Kane has been the difference between mid-table mediocrity and European challenges. What happens when he leaves? 

With the club’s talisman and star striker wanting out, no manager of the men’s team, no manager of the women’s team, no director of football, no coherent footballing strategy (after 22 years in the job), Daniel Levy is facing an unprecedented amount of pressure. It’s clear that in his infinite arrogance, he believed he could just maintain the club chugging along in purgatory, keep fans sated with occasional glimpses of glory, while pocketing the profits it generated, and focusing his efforts on real estate and land development. He’s learning slowly that Tottenham Hotspur, first and foremost, is a football club.

The real problem for Tottenham, however, lies not in what’s come before, but in what the future holds. Levy’s disdain for the club, its fans, and its footballing aspirations, has led to an atmosphere more toxic than at any time in recent history; he has made the club radioactive. He has turned the managerial vacancy into arguably the biggest poisoned chalice in football. A place where even serial winners are quickly rendered blunt and ineffective under his stewardship. New managers, directors, players, sponsors — and even prospective investors — will all think twice now before joining. How long before the damage he has inflicted upon this institution becomes terminal? Before the club descends too far into the abyss to be salvageable? 

With the club’s greatest ever manager in the Premier League era — who Levy chronically failed to back before unceremoniously sacking — set to join Chelsea, and other targets rejecting the job, Tottenham are destined to remain in limbo for the foreseeable future. Where the club goes from here is anyone’s guess.

What’s clear is that Levy’s house of cards now sits precariously close to the edge, on the verge of collapsing around him. He should do the honorable thing, and (finally), after twenty two years of failure, step aside from a position that is becoming increasingly untenable. Yet we all know he’s likely to just dig his heels in even further, and continue to deflect and distract from the widespread chaos now engulfing the club.

As far as Tottenham fans are concerned, Rome is burning. And its chief arsonist remains in power.

22 thoughts on “Levy’s House of Cards is Crumbling”

  1. I knew from over 2 years ago the day would come where it would catch up with levy … but even I couldn’t imagine it would get this bad .. its complete neglect of all football operations it really is just incredible the state of the club. I dont want to say it but I’m going too cause I truly believe it… worse things will get.

  2. I wonder how much of his time is taken up with footballing matters.or enic matters, acquiring property in and around tottenham. We need a
    chairman who is only job is spurs,not other intrest for a company that took over the club.

    1. Well reasoned argument there chief. Is this a Daniel burner account. What has you so angry? What part of it isn’t true?

  3. Excellent article. He knows what he is doing, he is doing it on purpose and he will not change! There is serious reason why coaches who are the best in motivating players like Conte and Jose couldn’t motivate our players to play football in a lot of games. Something serious is happening behind the scenes here and we don’t know what is it from outside. We can only guess. Who can put arm in fire in bet Levy is not laughing behind the scenes just like Hojbjerg on the pitch ? Only new serious owner can deal with it. LevyOut LewisOut EnicOut

  4. Hope to see more from you. This article was just spot on and can see the amount of hours put in to write this article. As for the Levy bot I mentioned earlier, seems he is waiting on his master for future instructions

  5. Patrick Mulvey

    Best article I have read of the state of the football club. It is obvious that nothing with Spurs will ever change as long as Levy is in charge. The football side is a cash cow for his other ventures and he feeds it just enough to maintain respectability but not excellence. The Harry Kane era will be one that fans look back upon in the future as a high point as the club descends into mid-table irrelevance.

    1. And the alternative? Some imbecile ranting incoherently at White and Jordan while Simon J makes mincemeat of the person with “fancy words”

      I know which individual I’d take far more seriously.

  6. Antony Brentnall

    That’s the best overview of what’s been happening I’ve ever read and I wholeheartedly support everything you’ve said here! I’ve been to the protests and whilst I support their sentiment they will never be able to articulate what you’ve managed to do here! We need people who can express their feelings with the accuracy of what’s going on and deliver it in a way that doesn’t make us all to be a bunch of thugs out to cause a riot! But the anger we all feel is rising and bubbling to the surface and we need a concerted effort to bring ENIC to the table to sell up and get out! Keep up the good work 🙏

  7. It’s been apparent for many years, that Levy has crafted a structure that does not require the team to win any trophies and subsequently still allows ENIC to generate a huge profit. Just enough investment in the team to stay close, to stay in the Prem, to reach a European competition. The additional revenues are enough. The stadium; to stay close to extra revenue streams, NFL, Music, Go Cart racing etc.All extra revenue stream for ENIC, not for THFC. The most successful parasite will always let it’s host survive, so that it can continue to feed and thrive. It’s business genius for ENIC only.
    But it has a shelf life, the mould, decay and stench is evident more so than ever during the past 22 years. We need to inject the parasite with Mercury to paralyse it’s metabolism, remove it and then dissect it, to examine it’s workings, so we never allow it to happen again.

  8. Deborah Wilson

    It’s SIMPLE!
    Money is the motivator for Greedy Levy and firm, so ALL FANS go on strike.
    Boycott the games home and away until he concedes and is forced to steps aside. They will lose so much money that the board/shareholders will remove him. So what if you miss a few games to gain the Great outcome of Levy GONE, you ALL must hit them where it hurts them most,
    So long as you keep going to games they’re just going to keep having YOUR money and keep taking the very massive PISS out of you all and destroying YOUR once was MAGNIFICENT club
    ACTIONS speak louder than words
    So if you truly care then do the boycott until you succeed and you WILL !!!!!

  9. The problem isn’t Levy. The problem is the fans. They fall for his nonsense. They buy the tickets.

    Stop renewing season tickets. Use your brains when Levy says anything, every action he undertakes is designed to increase the value of his investment, not to make the club more competitive.

    It’s been 20 years. Stop bankrolling these people. Levy and Donna MC are the kind of people who should be running a string of tanning saloons in Ilford. They lack class, intelligence, and courage.

  10. Ultimately the Board (Levy) are to Blame for lack of trophies in the last 15 years. So should go NOW. As well as all the facts detailed in this article, the pinnacle, and most recent case in point is, bringing in a serial winner in Jose and then sacking him before a final. However, we must not loose site on recent events such as the pandemic and its financial effects on Clubs. Barcelona being a Giant and case in point. Due to there business model, their Board put that club in a dangerous position that almost could not withstand the impact of the pandemic. Let’s make no mistake, the modern game is about Business and with the likes of Sovereign money and Billionaires investing in the brand Premier League, balance is needed to bring success on the pitch in trophies and maintaining a strong business model which is where ENIC have FAILED. No success on the Pitch in trophies. So with all that’s been said. Daniel please sell the Club so our ambitions as Fans has any chance of competing in the very near future. Remember their are new kids on the block with deeper pockets that will push our beloved club further from the top flight.

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