The Sliding Doors of Pochettino’s reign

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Pochettino’s young lions were once the envy of Europe. Today the squad is a shadow of its former self, stale and weakened in key areas. How exactly did things unravel so quickly?

If you had told someone in the summer of 2016, just after Tottenham had announced themselves to the world and run Leicester close to the title, that the team would go on to win a grand total of zero major trophies under Mauricio Pochettino, few would have believed you. How could one of the most dynamic, exciting groups of players in recent Premier League history, led by a charismatic young manager, with their peaks yet to come and their entire careers in front of them, end up trophyless? Yet that is exactly what happened. No Premier League titles, no Champions Leagues, no FA cups — not even a Carabao cup — to show for all that hope and promise.

What transpired over the last five years is a tragic case of what might have been, a tale of sliding doors and missed opportunities. Pochettino had built a foundation for success, based on a high energy, high press game that suffocated opponents, forcing them into uncomfortable positions, and then pouncing on their mistakes. A template, ironically enough, that Jurgen Klopp would ride to the summit of European and English football. The Argentine’s young guns, the likes of Kane, Eriksen, Son and Dele, were ruthless, hungry, and driven to seemingly inevitable success. So how did the team that Poch built come crashing down so spectacularly?

Sir Alex Ferguson, widely considered to be the greatest manager in English football history, spoke often of the need to refresh, to strengthen key areas, and constantly plan for the future. The Scot had a pipeline of talent running through his squad at any given time, finely managing the older players — some of whom were already on their way out, their performance having already started to dip — while bringing through and blooding the next crop of players that would form the core of the next generation. At Tottenham, that never happened. Here’s a chronological look into Mauricio Pochettino’s reign, and where it all went wrong.


Notable signings: Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Ben Davies, Benjamin Stambouli, Federico Fazio

Final position: 5th

Pochettino is appointed head coach of Tottenham Hotspur on a five year contract, replacing Tim Sherwood and becoming the club’s tenth manager in 12 years.

I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be head coach…We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve.

Mauricio Pochettino

The new manager wants to bring Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama and Jay Rodriguez with him from Southampton, but despite late efforts on deadline day, is unable to lure any of them to White Hart Lane.

We first see the implementation of the intense training methods and high press — methods he’d used to great effect on the South Coast.

A young Harry Kane is introduced to the team and quickly establishes a starting place ahead of the likes of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The team reaches the final of the League Cup but is beaten 2-0 by Chelsea in the Wembley final. The victory was Jose Mourinho’s first piece of silverware in his second spell with the club.

Spurs go on to finish in 5th place, six points behind 4th placed Manchester United, and headed for another season of Europa League football.


Notable signings: Heung-min Son, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer, Clinton Njie,

Final position: 3rd 

While Heung-Min Son and Toby Alderweireld arrive at the club with great success, none of the other signings would have the desired impact. The likes of Kevin Wimmer and Clinton Njie are consigned to joining Tottenham’s long list of mediocre, and ultimately pointless signings.

Despite this, however, with Harry Kane continuing to establish himself as one of Europe’s deadliest strikers, and Dele emerging as a genuine star, Pochettino drives Tottenham towards the first genuine Premier League title challenge in their history. With the rest of the Big 6 in state of disarray, many believed that this represented the club’s best ever chance to claim the title. As improbable as that may have seemed, ultimately, it was Leicester City who were crowned champions, a mere twelve months after coming up from the Championship. Even more incredibly, after being the only team to genuinely challenge Leicester throughout the course season, the Tottenham’s drop in form at the tail end of the season — catalyzed by that painful implosion at Stamford bridge — is so precipitous that fierce rivals Arsenal are able to overtake them on the final day.

The club becomes famous among rival fans for finishing third in a two horse race — almost single handedly bringing back the Spursy moniker — and that familiar sense of failure, of coming so close only to fall at the last, starts creeping in again.

Questions, however, into the overall level and quality of the squad, and specifically the depth Pochettino had at his disposal begin to percolate. How did a team that performed so well during the first half of the season, implode so catastrophically towards the end?


Notable signings: Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Vincent Janssen, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou

Final position: 2nd

Two years after arriving, Pochettino finally gets his man, as Victor Wanyama — a man he’d signed for Southampton after personally watching him play for Celtic — arrives in a £12.5m deal from the South Coast club.

As the summer drags on, however, Chairman Daniel Levy’s recruitment strategy is once again brought into question. Sadio Mane is recommended by then head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell, who brought Mane to England, and whom Pochettino had hand picked to oversee the club’s transfer business. Despite talks between player and club, a deal cannot be agreed, and Mane goes on to sign for Liverpool.

Mitchell would later hand in his resignation, mere weeks before the start of the new season, citing irreconcilable issues with working under the constraints of Daniel Levy.

A familiar pattern repeats, of managers’ first choices being sounded out, players themselves willing to come to Tottenham, but the club’s hierarchy ultimately unable to complete a deal. It was a pattern that first emerged during Hoddle’s reign, with players like Rivaldo and Morientes sounded out but never arriving at White Hart Lane. Morientes was believed to have been especially close, with a fee and terms agreed with Real Madrid, before Levy attempted to restructure the deal into one that included a ten-year payment plan. Real’s sporting director baulked and the deal was off. The trend of failed recruitment reemerged again during Andre Villas-Boas’ tenure, most infamously with the deadline day miss of Joao Moutinho, the manager’s number one choice, and the man earmarked to replace the vitally important Luka Modric. A deal collapsed at the last hour of the transfer window, for a player scouted months prior. Redknapp’s reign saw more failed pursuits, most notably — and painfully for Tottenham fans — with the likes of Luis Suarez and Eden Hazard, with whom Redknapp had even visited at his home in Lille. 

Remarkably, Mane was not the only near-miss of the summer, as it was Pochettino’s turn to take it upon himself to hold a personal visit to a prospective signing, only to see his chairman fail to get a deal over the line. 

I went to Mauricio Pochettino’s house before I spoke to Liverpool…After the meeting I told my agent ‘I’m going to join Spurs’. Pochettino is a terrific manager, if you look at the way his teams play. I was impressed with what he had to say.

He set out his way of working and I was convinced he could improve any player no matter what age they are. His method gives players such specific duties they become better as a result. I saw Spurs as being a very good fit for me — but we were unable to agree financial terms with them. With hindsight, though, that was not a disaster.

Georginio Wijnaldum

“A very good fit,” Wijnaldum revealed, the player himself set on joining Spurs. Yet instead of arriving at Hotspur Way, he joined the long and growing list of targets who were ready and willing to come, but who ended up the victims of financial brinkmanship by the Tottenham board. With hindsight, as the player would later assert, “it was not a disaster.” Wijnaldum would go on to become a vital cog in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, and score important goals for Liverpool on their way to European and domestic glory.

Tottenham meanwhile, were left to ponder what might have been had Mane and Wijnaldum joined them instead of Liverpool that summer. A front three of Kane, Son and Mane would have been a tantalizing prospect, one which surely would have propelled them to greater heights. With Pochettino in need of a wide forward, he was instead given Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, a paper signing from France, who arrived from Marseille with little pedigree or suggestion of ever being ready for the rigors of the Premier League. It was an extraordinary microcosm of Daniel Levy’s misguided transfer strategy, where Njie, a raw, cheap, unproven prospect from Ligue 1 was jettisoned, and replaced with Nkoudou…another raw, cheap, unproven prospect from Ligue 1. To absolutely no-one’s surprise, the move did not work out, with Nkoudou only making a handful of appearances before being offloaded to the Turkish Super Lig via an unsuccessful loan spell at West Brom. Even more remarkably, in a move that raises more questions about ENIC’s recruitment strategy than it answers, Moussa Sissoko was signed on deadline day, for a fee almost identical to Sadio Mane’s. Rumors swirl that the deal was made possible due to payments owed from the transfer of Andros Townsend, but the saga smacks of a familiar, deep lying aversion to pulling the trigger at the right times, and gambling where necessary.

Pochettino persists undaunted, continuing to endear himself to the Tottenham faithful, and taking the club to heights not seen before in the Premier League era. 

The most important club in the world is Tottenham. And it is the best club in the world. I need to feel like this, and that emotion is real because I cannot be fake. It’s too difficult to create the trust if you don’t really believe, and it’s not real, that emotion.

Mauricio Pochettino

The club goes on the finish as runners up behind a resurgent, Jose Mourinho led Chelsea.

Another title challenge, but another effort that ends in failure. Tottenham fans again reminded of another familiar maxim; always the bridesmaids, never the bride.


Notable signings: Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier 

Final position: 3rd

While generally cutting a contented figure around the training ground, Pochettino begins to hint at the changes that would need to be made if Tottenham are truly to compete at the top tier of European football.

In the moment that we arrive in the new stadium and focus to try to invest only to try to improve the team, not only to improve the facilities, the people I think will be allowed to blame if we don’t improve and don’t achieve.

Mauricio Pochettino

The season begins with a major departure, as Kyle Walker is sold to Manchester City for a fee of £45million. Walker was not a contract rebel, nor had he agitated particularly loudly for a move, and many are left to wonder whether Daniel Levy and the club’s hierarchy did everything in their power to try to convince Walker to stay. Wages are believed to be a complicating issue, with Levy famously unwilling to pay market rate in order to either keep established stars at the club or lure new ones.

The best defense in English football is stripped of a key component, and the Tottenham back line is irrevocably altered. In retrospect, this was a bigger deal than many — likely even Levy himself — realized at the time. Walker’s pace and energy down Tottenham’s right flank was not only an essential component of the team’s attack but also a major deterrent and failsafe for opposition raids. The team has never been the same since his departure, shorn of a major offensive and defensive weapon, and efforts to fill his spot have been tepid at best. Despite the signing of Serge Aurier from PSG, a player who arrived with a questionable reputation and history of disciplinary issues, it’s Kieran Trippier, Walker’s understudy, who becomes the club’s first choice right back.

Despite a somewhat inconsistent season, the team secures a third consecutive Champions League spot. That immutable glass ceiling that Redknapp briefly broke through, is finally shattered by Mauricio Pochttino.

With the club firmly established as Champions League regulars, and Tottenham now one of the most attractive destinations in world football, the focus shifts again to the club’s recruitment.


Notable signings: N/A

Final position: 4th

With the stadium nearing completion, Pochettino starts to eschew his previously warm and genial appraisal of the board’s direction off the pitch. He begins to ask questions of the club, imploring Levy and the Tottenham ownership to be brave, to look for a different strategy if they’re to compete for “big, big trophies.”

I think it’s a moment where the club needs to take risks and try to work, if possible, harder than the previous season to be competitive again because every season will be worse and will be more difficult.

The Premier League is the toughest competition and not only the big clubs, but behind us Everton, West Ham United and Leicester today they are working so hard to be close to the top six clubs.

But I am sure Daniel is going to listen to me and we can create together to help the team move on.

It’s fantastic today all that we achieved, but it will be so important to create again, assess all that has happened and create a different, not project, but add different ideas to help the club to move on and be closer to winning titles in the next few years.

Mauricio Pochettino

The warnings would fall on deaf ears, as Tottenham would go on to set records — but for all the wrong reasons. Spurs become the first club in English football history to go two consecutive windows, a full calendar year, without signing a single player. For a squad in dire need of refreshment, with players tired and beginning to lose their competitive edge, it was the antithesis of what was required. While plenty of mishaps were made before this window, it is arguably the single biggest contributing factor to Pochettino’s eventual demise. Indeed it’s not hard to draw a direct line between this self-imposed transfer ban, the willful negligence at a time when squad improvement was desperately needed, and the chain of events that led to Jose Mourinho hastily strolling through Hotspur way.

Delving deeper into what transpired, the neglect becomes even more acute. While there were other dalliances, the summer is most famous for the club’s failed pursuit of another young, promising midfielder. Pochettino had identified Jack Grealish as a player he wanted to both improve the team’s creativity, and bolster his midfield options. The move followed a familiar MO, with a customary derisory offer submitted early in the window, followed by a long delay in any concerted follow up until the final days of the window. Villa were a club with financial issues, and it was widely known that a bid of around £25 million would have been enough to secure his services. However, the longer the deal dragged on, the less severe their need to sell became. Once again, Levy had misread the situation, falsely believing that he could hold the Midlands club to ransom, forcing them into accepting an offer far less than the player was worth. Villa held firm, infused with an injection of cash from new ownership, and stood their ground. Levy accepted defeat and moved on. There was no contingency, no Plan B, no Plan C; that was it. Tottenham’s business for that summer closed and wrapped up.

Aside from the missed opportunity to refresh and replenish the squad as a whole, none of the gaping holes are addressed. Tottenham now have a major problem at fullback, where neither Trippier or Aurier has truly stepped up to fill Walker’s boots, and Danny Rose is becoming increasingly unreliable at left back. Neither position is filling Pochettino with any degree of confidence, and what was once not just a strength, but one of his team’s defining features, has suddenly become a weak point.

In the midfield engine room, both Wanyama and Dembele are rapidly declining, with neither able to play without pain or injury for any sustained amount of time. Eric Dier, who had also deputized there on several occasions, is deteriorating in both form and fitness, and a shadow of the calm, steady presence of a season or two prior. The team’s core is waning, deprived of a true holding midfielder and a pale imitation of the powerful, dominant force of prior seasons.

On the eve of the opening of the new stadium, Pochettino again urges Daniel Levy and the board to “be brave, to take risks:”

We need to rebuild. It’s going to be painful.

Now, we’ve finished the new stadium, we are going to think like a big club. What does it mean to think like a big club?

When you talk about Tottenham, everyone says you have an amazing house, but you need to put in the furniture

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino appears acutely aware that the window of opportunity to strengthen from a position of strength, to strike while the iron is hot, is rapidly closing. It is a predicament faced by many of his predecessors at the club, most notably Harry Redknapp, who had built a side full of flair and endeavor, before a loss of key players and subpar recruitment derailed its progress. Despite all of his groundbreaking accomplishments, working wonders with a threadbare, underpowered squad, Pochettino would fare no better in persuading the powers that be at Tottenham to finally flex their financial muscle and deliver the players needed to move the team to the next level. The long awaited and long delayed rebuild would never come.

Somehow, despite patchy league form, the club defies all expectations and rides their luck to reach the final of the Champions League. In hindsight, the run papers over the cracks in the squad, where very few, complete, comprehensive performances were put in along the way — but Ajax and Manchester City are still memorably put to the sword. Pochettino further cements his place in the hearts and minds of Tottenham fans with his emotional reaction to the club reaching the final. Rarely has the bond between fans and manager been so strong, especially during the Premier League era.

How quickly things can unravel in football.


Notable signings: Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Jack Clarke

Final position: 9th*

Ironically enough, reaching the Champions League final, traditionally the pinnacle of the European game, marked the beginning of the end for Pochettino’s dream. A closer look at domestic results reveals that the team had been trending poorly long before that ill-fated night, but defeat to domestic rivals Liverpool — a team that Tottenham had finished above for 8 of the past 9 seasons — set in motion a turbulent downturn in form and spirit, one from which neither Pochettino nor the team would ever recover.

The club did finally spend in the summer, but it was too little, too late. After Tanguy Ndombele’s arrival early in the window, and a deal for Giovani Lo Celso all but wrapped up, many expected a genuine shift in the club’s culture and mentality — a concerted show of ambition to make up for the lost time and missed opportunities of the prior few windows.

Pochettino, for his part, was beginning to cut an increasingly disconsolate figure on the sidelines, bristling at routine questions during his press conferences, and making little attempt to hide his frustrations.

I am not in charge, I know nothing about the situation of my players…These types of things, what will happen, what will not happen, selling and buying of players, extending contracts, not extending contracts, I think it is not in my hands. It is in the club’s hands, and Daniel Levy.

Maybe the club need to change my title description, because my job now is to coach the team. It is not a question for me, it is a question for the club. Maybe the club are going to change my title description.

Of course I am the boss, deciding the strategy to play, training, mentality, philosophy in my area, but in another area, I think I am the coach.

Mauricio Pochettino

Despite his prickly comments, however, there remains hope that the club will finally back their manager. Indeed, just days before the window was to close, a fee of £65 million was agreed with Juventus for Paulo Dybala. Long suffering fans rejoiced in what appeared to be the dawn of a new chapter in the club’s history; the long awaited sea-change in mentality; the shift from the sort of passive, restrictive thinking that had held them back for so long was finally here.

But as is so often the case with Tottenham Hotspur, the joy was short lived. History repeated itself once again, as Daniel Levy contrived not to get the deal over the line, ostensibly scuppered in his efforts to sign Dybala by the sudden, and entirely unforeseen issue of image rights. Somehow, during the extensive negotiations, no one had mentioned to Levy that Dybala was tied to an external third party, who held his image rights. The fee that killed the deal? £14million. After raising the hopes of fans across the globe — not to mention Pochettino’s — that one of the world’s most sought after players was coming to Tottenham, Levy walked away from the deal. Almost inevitably, the club then neglected to pursue any other alternatives. More questions swirled in the aftermath of the failed bid. Why, for instance, if Dybala was genuinely an intended target, did the club not immediately switch all of their efforts to securing Bruno Fernandes once the Dybala deal fell through?

It’s not as if negotiations weren’t at an advanced stage.

We prepared for his sale by putting a fair price on his worth, and we had bids, but only a serious offer from Tottenham that was 45m euros plus 20m in add-ons; winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

Finding these add-ons difficult, I decided not to accept.

Frederico Varandas, Sporting Club President

Fernandes himself would later admit that he was close to joining the North London club.

The first club that was close to signing me was Tottenham.

With Pochettino…But I don’t know, maybe they thought the amount Sporting wanted was too much, so in that moment Sporting decide they don’t want to sell.

Bruno Fernandes

Groundhog Day at Tottenham. Another young, promising talent ready and willing to come to the club, more unrealistic and almost farcical deal structuring, and another failed signing from the club’s board. Aside from the folly of (again) not stumping up the cash for what was a very reasonable fee for a top class player — one who may very likely have solved one of the team’s biggest immediate needs — the financial implications of pulling out are nonsensical to say the least.

If £65million was allocated for the transfer of Dybala, for whom the club had agreed a fee, how then were they not able to raise their initial offer of £45million for Fernandes? Those skeptical that bids had been submitted by Levy in the past purely as a smokescreen to create the illusion of ambition, were once again left in a state of bewilderment. Surely the club would not allow itself to be left empty handed in their pursuit of some much needed star quality? Surely a last minute deadline day swoop was on the cards?

But while rumors swirled and expectations soared, a summer that promised the likes of Fernandes, Coutinho, and Dybala, ended somehow with just Giovani Lo Celso on loan and Jack Clarke from Leeds. The fee for Jack Clarke? £11million — almost the exact figure that precluded the move for Dybala. It was, when all was said and done, a vastly underwhelming outcome, especially considering all that was promised, and what had transpired in the previous few windows — leaving yet more questions once again to be asked of the club’s transfer policy, and their peculiar aversion to pushing the boat out to sign top players.

The window was also notable for its departures. With Christian Eriksen having one foot out of the door by the time the season rolled around, Kieran Trippier was then sold to Athletico Madrid. The decision brought further scrutiny into the recruitment strategy — or lack thereof — as the club neglected to sign a replacement for the right back slot. After replacing Walker with his understudy, Tottenham then repeated the trick by promoting Aurier to replace Tripper.

While Trippier was slightly inconsitent, prone to the occasional error, and lacking his predecessor’s blistering pace, he was a player with major international experience, and arguably the team’s best crosser of a football. Aurier, by contrast, was a walking calamity. Fans once again are left scratching their heads. Many felt that an upgrade at the right back position was necessary. Few, however, could have envisaged the club’s solution.

With Aurier now the club’s only recognized right back, neither Davies nor Rose particularly appealing at left back, and Vertongen and Alderweireld in rapid decline, Pochettino barely has a functional back line to call on. What was once the Premier League’s best defense, is now a team with no viable fullbacks, aging center backs, and no defensive midfielder to protect them. What began as a problem with Walker’s departure and Dembele’s decline, has metastasized into a full on catastrophe.

In true Tottenham fashion, when the wheels of the Pochettino reign eventually came off, they did so spectacularly. By October, the Argentine’s side were thumped 7-2 in the Champions League at home against a rampant Bayern Munich, before succumbing to a miserable 3-0 defeat at the hands of lowly Brighton. Neither of Tottenham’s new signings were able to have much of an impact, with Lo Celso injured for much of the early season, and Ndombele struggling with both form and fitness. It becomes glaringly obvious that further reinforcements to the squad were necessary — not just in the summer, but in the years prior — and that the level of recruitment was nowhere near sufficient to sustain another Champions League challenge.

After years of over-performing and swimming against the tide to keep the club’s head above water and somehow in contention; after coming so agonizingly close to touching the glory that generations of Tottenham fans had craved; the dam finally broke. Pochettino was unceremoniously sacked in November; his brave new revolution over before it had really begun. The extent of the rot within the squad was so widespread, so deep-rooted, that ultimately his position had become almost untenable. It was, in reality, a problem all of Levy’s making, a cautionary tale of the perils of standing still in the dynamic, ever-evolving world of top level football. Rather than setting aside the funds to invest intelligently, and organically, in the first team squad, working with Pochettino to fix problem areas and take the team to the next level, Levy opted to fire the most popular Tottenham manager in a decades. It was an ignominious end for the club’s greatest manager of the Premier League era, a man who will always have a place in the hearts of many. Barely 24 hours later, Jose Mourinho was appointed as his replacement.

So many questions, so many sliding doors moments. What if Mane and Wijnaldum had joined Spurs instead of Liverpool? What if the club had actually signed a decent backup striker for Harry Kane? What if Kyle Walker was properly replaced? What if a world-class playmaker was signed to mitigate the departure of Christian Eriksen? A top quality defensive midfielder to prepare for the decline of Dembele and Wanyama? What if Jack Grealish had joined? What if the club had paid the image rights to secure the transfer of Paulo Dybala? And what if, like most other professional football clubs, purchasing the players needed and strengthening in key positions wasn’t contingent on selling players?

These are questions that have to be asked not of Pochettino or Mourinho, but of the board — the men who write the checks and disperse the funds to be able to build the team at the level required. Incredibly, many of these issues continue to linger today, the holes and deficiencies in the team still not properly addressed. Most gallingly for those connected with Tottenham Hotspur, every one of the aforementioned doors that Pochettino arrived at were eminently traversable. They weren’t just arbitrarily missed, or overlooked; they were intentionally slammed shut by those who pull the strings at the North London club. As has been the case for far too long, much of the team’s failures and missteps are entirely by design.

Failing to invest, declining to strengthen and kick on at the right times, has been the Achilles heel of Tottenham Hotspur for twenty years now. People can point the finger at individual managers, players and moments all they want, but throughout all of the failed regimes, the false dawns, and the bitter ends, there is only one constant.

While Pochettino was thrown to the wolves, forced to defend and explain the club’s perpetually stagnant, inward looking transfer policy, Daniel Levy and the club’s board were rarely heard from. When they did speak, it was invariably to discuss the stadium specs and cheese room, and to affirm how they wished for the stadium to be bigger than football. Conspicuously absent in all this was a statement of footballing intent from the Tottenham board. After 20 years of false dawns and failed attempts at competing, just how are they to bridge the gap to the elite and genuinely compete for top honors? Firing managers at the first sign of trouble, when the trick of over-performing year after year finally runs out, is neither an acceptable, nor sustainable, long term fix.

ENIC are an investment firm; that much is obvious. But so are FSG. So are the owners of Manchester United. None are gripped by this culture of mediocrity, this indifference to footballing growth and advancement. It is simply no excuse for the chronic, pervasive lack of ambition that has permeated Tottenham Hotspur.

Risk is an important component of every business, every organization, and every individual. Without it, entities are destined to fail. There is no sector, financial or otherwise, in which standing still is an acceptable strategy. ENIC’s Tottenham are no exception.

The club’s motto, etched in history and emblazoned upon the new stadium is “To Dare is To Do.”

Perhaps one day, Daniel Levy and ENIC will learn to understand what that means.

37 thoughts on “The Sliding Doors of Pochettino’s reign”

  1. Excellent article. It has been so obvious from the Harry Redknapp era that Levy was the problem. Obtuse and controlling and no idea of the real value of any player. When the recruitment fails and the team doesn’t perform Levy just sacks the manager to cover himself and on we go. A team consisting of Modric, Bale, Rafa, Hazard, Moutinho, Saurez would’ve won the league title and the Champions League. Don’t even get me started on how Levy then squandered the Poch era.

    1. Good piece, apart from the mistakes in the 2015/16 article…..we did not lose at Stamford Bridge….and we’re only chasing Leicester….not once in the campaign did we top the table….only thing we messed up was finishing 2nd… a review of that season, then come to your conclusions.

      1. WorldofHotspur

        Thanks for the correction! You’re right, we did not lose that game — definitely felt like a loss though :/

      2. It only stated we imploded at Stamford Bridge which is what we did and we were in the hunt, no one else was!

    2. Wow! That was somewhat exhilarating! So pleasing to hear the upmost truth in what’s happened at spurs. I do hope Enic takes note and starts us back on the road to glory, gets rid of levy and appoints a new man in his place with spurs in his blood not in his pocket

    3. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks Phil! Yes you’re spot on about the MO. Through it all there’s only one constant…

  2. I’d add one other thing about Levys transfer policy is the example of Luca Modric. For once he does get a the deal over the line and Modric is signed on a 5yr contract on £45K per week. It was clear after just one season that we had a world class superstar in our ranks. At that point his contract should’ve been ripped up and incentives put in place for him to stay at least 5/6 years and the team built around him. But no obtuse Levy holds him to his now paltry contract, Real Madrid come in after 3 seasons and snap him away from us. Levy.

    1. WorldofHotspur

      100% Agree. This presupposes however that Levy/ENIC have an actual interest in winning things on the football field. Sadly the last 20 years have proven otherwise.

      Like you intimate, the raw materials for title winning sides have been there with the likes of Bale, Modric, VDV, and later Kane, Dele, Eriksen…however, wait too long, and fail to strengthen at the right times…you end up where we are now :/

  3. I have long thought that the club is merely a property deal for ENIC, with the team a handy investment vehicle for players signed for future sale potential rather than what they bring to the squad. Thank you for a well reasoned and well researched article that shines a light on the whole mismanagement of our team.
    The only think that surprises me is that some of our ‘fans’ still seem to back Levy!

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks for your feedback Noel! Yes you’re sadly correct. Indeed, Levy had essentially said this out loud shortly after acquiring the club. And it’s is certainly surprising that more isn’t made of the chronic neglect and oversight that continually hampers our progress…

  4. It absolutely gauls to think that the ENIC snd Levy actually made a statement 20 years ago, bragging that football was the best investment. But it was ONLY about the return of their investment and not the winning of trophies. Joe Lewis (billionaire) agreed to that 29% control BUT shackled that deal and made it clear that if he had to put money in to build the “business”, then this would mean that the percentage share of ENIC would decrease! Hence ENIC not asking for a penny from Lewis. Spurs can now only improve and move forward with a passionate loving billionaire football loving owner, and not owners who only care about their profits!

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks for reading Kevin! Spot on about Lewis. To be fair I think FSG and Liverpool have proven that you don’t even need a billionaire to succeed — just smart owners with an interest in competing on the field. Check out my other article “The Great Disillusionment of Tottenham Hotspur” for some more on the differences between FSG and ENIC…

    2. An excellent summary of a Club that needs to dig deep in the memories and Annals of time for stories of success. This disjointed season will provide the Club without solace of any kind.
      Nothing learned from their superior North London rivals. The building of a stunning new stadium with promises of glory but finding themselves penniless on the back of it. The owners will, just like Arsenal, enjoy the income but will show no concerns for the supporters. After all, ticket sales are not what’s important anymore in Premier League Football. Just profits for Owners.

      1. WorldofHotspur

        Thanks for reading Terry! The parallels with our rivals are of course numerous, although at least their prolonged, self-inflicted austerity came after one of the most successful periods in their history. In true Tottenham fashion we’ve managed to do this off the back of the biggest barren spell in our history :/

  5. At last after a lifetime of supporting Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, I have to now accept that it no longer exists in that form. It should be renamed The Tottenham Hotspur Investment Opportunity. Since ENIC took over football has nor been the priority. It seems to have been an exercise in increasing the value of the club at the expense of football success. While ENIC are in control, success on the pitch will always be a secondary consideration.

    1. Brilliant article!!
      Everything I’ve said to my mates over the years
      With Enic / levy we won’t win a thing
      Forget the amount of fallen through deals
      How close we was if only we had invested
      No we are back 10 years I feel

    2. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks Keith for your comment. It is certainly deflating to see owners of this great club who care so little about our on field fortunes. And yes, football has been an afterthought for far too long.

  6. Interesting article, but a fair few inaccuracies and unproveable assumptions
    Poch dropped Walker in favour of Trippier
    Not paying the market rate in salaries assumes that we could match the salaries of Man City and their like. We were still the 6th highest, so no one was on a shit salary
    Poch himself spoke of the difficulties of getting not only better players but the right players
    Jack Grealish – so good he’s now at..oh, Aston Villa still
    Snidey comments about cheese rooms
    A comparison with FSG, where have Utd been during their tenure?

    It’s pretty much an assassination article with little but hearsay and a complete lack of the financial realities that exist at a club like Spurs

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Hi Kev – thanks for your feedback. Poch I believe dropped Walker because Levy had already told him he wanted to leave. Market rate doesn’t mean matching City, per se, but it does mean matching Liverpool, Arsenal, and even the likes of West Ham and Palace who we routinely pay lower than.
      Grealish is linked with a host of top clubs — most notably United, and will likely be out of our price range now. Frustrating when we could have had him for relative peanuts that summer…

  7. Amazing article parts of it made me a little emotional . Being honest I have always been a Levy fan as I own my own business and the reality is you can not just spend spend spend , but also spending does not always equal success , in fact without luck all the money in the world is pointless in football.
    All that said this article has single handedly changed the way I view and see Enic , you have given me some harsh realities to get my head round , none more than we will never move to the very top under Levy and Enic .
    Thankyou but with a tinge of sdness

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Hi Ji – thank you for your feedback…Glad I was able to change your viewpoint! Yes, when you actually take a step back and look at what transpired, it’s pretty damning. And remember, Poch wasn’t the first manager to not be backed by this ownership. Jol, AVB, Redknapp, etc all suffered similar fates…

  8. So. Do we want an oil baron to come in and buy all the best players? Previously NO…… Now??? Absolutely. Coys.

  9. During Redknapp the reign, When you are chasing champions league football and you go out in January and sign a one legged Ryan Nielsen and an over-the-hill Louis Saha, you know your Chairman is cheap and not at all caring of success on the field! He’s done a fantastic job on the business side, but that’s irrelevant when it comes to the fans and what we really want…to win major trophies! 1 in 20 years shows how much of a failure Levy, Lewis & ENIC have been…please just sell us to someone who wants to invest on the pitch and wake up a football giant that has been asleep for far too long! COYS

  10. Maybe it isn’t the players we ought but the players we didn’t sell? (stick with me…)
    I think the big lesson to be learnt and what frustrated Paul Mitchell into leaving is about keeping a squad fresh and hungry. In hindsight maybe we should have sold players like Rose and Eriksen when their market value was high and brought in some fresh faces especially young ones and English ones. A problem before was players like Harry Maguire turning us down as he didn’t see an immediate route to the first team past Jan and Toby.
    I think early on Poch was ale to quickly identify where we needed to strengthen. but later on I’m not entirely sure he knew what to do; all the talk was about characters rather than anything positional or tactical.
    I think the job now is in some ways easier. A striker remains a pressing need but one who will play second fiddle to Kane. There are clear deficiencies defensively and at least 2 new full backs will have to be purchased over the summer. A solid DM would also help.
    We have a glut of attacking midfielders and need to sell at least one; Son would still fetch a decent price and Moura might too if they ignore performances since the restart. Aurier might find options abroad too. To make the squad stronger selling Son, Moura and Aurier might be the best thing.

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks for reading Matt, you make some great points. The squad decay undoubtedly has a lot to do with failing to shift deadwood or even players on their way out at the right times. However, once again, I doubt this was even within the scope of Poch’s remit. As you mention, Mitchell had a list of targets that he wanted to bring in, and likely one for those he wanted to move on. As we all know, none of this happened, and the resulting stagnation and atrophy is what brought us to this situation.
      Striking while the iron’s hot is a key part of footballing strategy — but again, doing it right requires ambition, as FSG and Liverpool has so successfully showed. Levy has his hands too much in our footballing endeavors — whether buying, selling, etc, and that is arguably our greatest downfall

  11. PF
    A very interesting read. No mention of Poch’s behaviour leading up to the CL final and his decision to play Kane from the off and not to take him off in that game. I actually think Kane is a massive problem for the club I think he appears to be too big a name to drop/substitute and his form in the last year has been very poor. The treatment of Toby in 2018/19 I think (our best defender at the time) did not reflect well on Poch. Who signed Sanchez? A very poor signing. Dembele has been irreplaceable (even with his injuries) and being let go was a bad move. I think Poch himself ran out of steam, as well as his players, I think the game Poch gets them to play is hard for the same players to repeat year in year out. So he achieved brilliant things with the squad but he’s not entirely blameless in how it all ended up so badly. Having said that I fully agree that Levy/ENIC have not helped and a great opportuntiy has been missed.

    1. WorldofHotspur

      Thanks for reading! I agree Kane has become a problem, however, again this is a situation that needs to be managed by the club’s hierarchy. How are we in a scenario where he’s the only striker on the books of the club? Where he’s forced to play every game — cup, league, Europe, etc? It’s unsustainable, and a recipe for disaster, yet it’s been the case now for years.
      The running out steam — among both the squad, individual players, and perhaps as you assert, the manager himself, is something that many people had long seen coming; it was somewhat of an inevitability. This is what makes what happened even more unfathomable.

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