Daniel Levy is a shrewd and tough negotiator.
He loves to play hardball and squeeze every last penny from a deal. It is how he made Real Madrid pay £30 million for Luka Modric and Manchester United pay £31 million for Dimitar Berbatov. In an age where we bemoan football’s wayward spending and debts, Levy deserves many plaudits.
The flip side to this is Tottenham constantly find themselves one or two players short of being a team who can truly challenge for the top places.
There was no left-winger between David Ginola and Gareth Bale, no tough-tackling defensive midfielder until Harry Redknapp signed Wilson Palacios, and right now there are no strikers with Jermain Defoe injured and Emmanuel Adebayor at the African Cup of Nations.
This is not a new problem.
Last season Spurs were a striker light and January saw the underwhelming signing of Louis Saha. Coincidentally, Tottenham’s title challenge disintegrated and they missed out on the Champions League when Chelsea won in Munich.
Going into pre-season Spurs only had Defoe on their books as a move for Adebayor dragged on, and even then only the deadline day signing of Clint Dempsey from Fulham saved Levy’s blushes.
However, as Dempsey has shown in performances in the cup defeats against Norwich and Leeds, the American is not a natural frontman and likes to operate from deeper. He is a goal scoring threat but not one a team of Tottenham’s ambitions should be relying on. But right now he is the only forward on form – Adebayor has been woeful for the majority of the season while Defoe is struggling after starting the season on fire.
The introduction of youngster Jonathan Obika on Sunday when Spurs were 2-1 down to Leeds was an indictment of Levy’s transfer policy. The seemingly decades-long struggle to sign Leandro Damiao from Internacional appears no nearer to a solution despite the Brazil international having the goalscoring quality Spurs so desperately lack.
Andre Villas-Boas told the Independent: "We are happy with the options we have.
"We understand an injury could put us in a difficult position. But it wasn't because we missed a lot of attacking opportunities that we lost [to Leeds].
"We could not create many clear-cut chances."
Goalless draws against QPR and Stoke, and the struggle until the very last minute to equalise against Manchester United despite having the majority of possession and create two or three clear openings, would say a lack of clear-cut chances is not the only problem.
The sale of Modric and Rafael van der Vaart caused an absence of creativity and Villas-Boas and his men have found it increasingly difficult to break down defensive, organised teams.
The signing of Lewis Holtby from Schalke, which was brought forward from the summer, should address some of these issues but it does not matter how many chances the German U21 captain creates. If there is no predatory striker waiting to convert the opportunities, Spurs will continue to under-perform.
A stop-gap signing until the end of the season will merely prolong Spurs fans agony. Over the last few transfer windows Levy has made temporary signings that have then proved insufficient and costly to remove from the club’s wage bill (Roman Pavlyuchenko instantly springs to mind) and Spurs would save more money in the long run and find more success if they stopped messing around and got in the one or two players they need to make them title contenders.
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