It’s hard to imagine too many football managers out there who would be chuffed at having Daniel Levy as their boss. The Tottenham Hotspur chairman is the antithesis to the kind of boss we would prefer in life; one who is understanding, willing to give you a fair chance and seeing beyond the main fallacy in football – instant results.
If you add other human resource factors needed like freedom to think and freedom to act, you are certainly sailing the wrong ship if you are going to report to Levy.
The recent sacking of Andre Villas-Boas (Spurs' fourth manager in six years) is certainly a case in point. Here was a manager who in truth did not get the time he deserved, was not entirely responsible for the raft of expensive signings made and yet he was not given the chance to fashion out his ideals especially once the vultures started circling.
He looked to be mortally wounded at Manchester City for six, before there was some healing with the stirring comeback win at Sunderland and the London derby defeat of Fulham, as well as the home draw with champions Manchester United.
Events then turned fatal after a comprehensive home defeat at the hands of fellow Champions League hopefuls Liverpool.
It probably did not help that his last defeat to a side deemed to be in direct competition was so severe. It probably did not help also that AVB seemed to be in a tactical conundrum all season and it certainly did not help that his team was expensively assembled to the small matter of £110 million. But there are extenuating circumstances.
For a start, AVB would have preferred to sign only the players that he truly wanted. The curious case of Italian Franco Baldini as the director of football is one that has been the subject of much conjecture in the Premier League.
Past and present managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would balk at such an arrangement and the jury is still out in terms of whether such a set-up works. For how can someone sign players for a manager who is then expected to make the most out of people he in all probability, would not have signed?
It’s akin to setting a bomb and retreating to a safe distance while the poor ‘disposal expert’ bears the brunt of wrongly coloured cords. Were the Nacer Chadlis, Vlad Chiriches and Erik Lamelas of this world really AVB’s choices?
Secondly is a comprehensive defeat at the hands of a major rival real cause for a knee-jerk reaction? Such results are not strange in football, even if unexpected. Should Wenger have been fired for losing 8-2 to Manchester United or Jose Mourinho sacked for losing 5-0 to Barcelona?
Granted, the circumstances will always be different but such monumental collapses in a game do happen, especially to major rivals. What counts should be the overall set of results and the team’s standing.
If the City and Liverpool defeats had been to Sunderland and Fulham, then the case for his sacking would have been stronger. Spurs were seventh on the table and still with a good shout for the top four places; they had more than half a season to make things right and the potential for that was there.
They had not scored too many goals and aside from the aforementioned thrashings, they had not conceded too many either. In plain speak they were a team very much under construction, a kind of slow work in progress. Spurs were cruising quite well in the Europa League but Levy was simply unforgiving.
Considering the manner in which a large number of players were assembled in quick succession in the wake of the Gareth Bale windfall, it was always going to take more than a season to implement his style fully.
His tactical ploys were often confusing when you take into light that he would often leave out Andros Townsend, who clearly deserved more starts, especially in the game against Liverpool.
He shuffled his midfield too often and could not play to the strengths of Roberto Soldado, the marksman who was more highly lauded in Spain than Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo, who is coming along very nicely at the Etihad Stadium.
But the truth is AVB deserved more time. He was always going to have to adjust Spurs playing style in the wake of his best player departing for Spain. He did disappoint in games against the top teams but perhaps Levy felt the embarrassment of Spurs worst home defeat in 16 years was too much for the fans and the board to stomach.
In his 18 months in charge, AVB managed to win 54 percent of his games, a ratio unsurpassed by any Lilywhites manager in the Premier League era. He leaves Spurs in a good position in the Capital One Cup and the Europa League, but one wonders what would have happened had Tottenham lost by a single goal in the Man City and Liverpool encounters.
Of the names being touted as his replacement Glenn Hoddle, a close friend of Levy, seems to be the frontrunner. However Levy may do well to learn from events across town in west London.
Roman Abramovich has wielded the axe fairly ruthlessly but seemed to realise the futility of a revolving door policy when he re-appointed Mourinho. However, that second coming, though steady, has not quite turned out to be so smooth and with Hoddle having been out of active management for close to a decade, he may well wield the axe again before too long. After all, there is no place for sentiment in football’s fickle nature.
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