Very insightful post. Thank you very muchI don’t often post, and rarely in ITK forums, but I have to correct a couple of misconceptions some people seem to have.
EDIT: Apologies to A&C if this is off-topic or too long. It turned out way longer than I expected. In short what I’m saying is that simplistic “Levy won’t spend money”, “Uncle Joe needs to open his wallet”, “Poch will go if he doesn’t” comments are all misguided. The situation is way more complex than it’s portrayed in forums and the media. If you’re interested, read on.
Firstly, about Poch, Levy and Lewis. It requires a bit of financial understanding but, put simply, the original deal (via ENIC) between the owners was that Lewis put in the majority share of the investment and Levy had the minority. Lewis then said, ‘okay mate, now run with it’. If you can make money, great. But if you come asking for more money (equity) from me, you’ll be diluted and so my share of the club will get bigger. Since then, via his brilliance, Levy has taken THFC up the table, built the training ground, and now a magnificent stadium, all on internally generated profits/cash flow. In other words, without asking Uncle Joe for more money. There have been occasions that shareholders have made temporary loans, and we’re now borrowing from banks for the stadium, but the owners’ equity shareholdings haven’t changed. And there have been no ‘sugar daddy’ loans or FFP manipulation like allegedly at other clubs. We are the polar opposite of a rich man’s (or country’s) plaything.
Of course, Levy runs the club and has done so for 18 years, largely independently. But I’m sure he still runs the ‘big picture’ past Joe Lewis, who may be rich, but THFC represents a decent chunk of his wealth. So Joe has an opinion Levy has to take into account too. Since 2001, Levy has to achieve three things, all at once: (i) consistently move Spurs forward from Top 10, to Top 6, to Top 4, to Title challengers (ii) avoid going to Joe Lewis for more equity investment, which would dilute Levy’s shareholding in the process (iii) whilst taking his majority shareholder’s ‘big picture’ views into account. He’s also had compete with the other Top 5 clubs playing by different financial rules or circumstances. Only Arsenal has been a (reasonably) level playing field. And look how he’s kicked their butts over 17 years. Compare our two clubs in 2001 and where they are now. Finally, he’s had to deal with all the usual stuff to do with transfers, agents, managers, AND achieve not one but two property projects AND deal with fans and media pundits taking the piss and calling him miserly, etc. You can call out his mistakes over the years but to deny the man’s extraordinary achievement says way more about you than it does him.
Into this scenario steps an equally extraordinary manager. Unproven at the time but a person who sees the big picture; who sees players as men not commodities, who sees a club as a family, who has the business intellect to talk Levy’s language and understand the financial challenges. To imagine that everything’s been achieved over 5 years without some hot words would be silly. But the idea that a man like Mauricio Pochettino communicates with his chairman via press conferences rather than across a coffee table is equally dumb.
We already know that there was a 5 Year Plan of sorts, ie. to get the stadium built, to get into the Top 4 and have CL football when, or soon after, it opened. We now know the Top 4 was achieved early and has been exceeded in terms of a CL final before schedule. Spurs now have everything in place to be a Big Club. Not just big, but meaning elite. What Poch is alluding to is that we also need to develop the “mentality” that goes with being an elite club. The expectations. The standards. The entitlement, even. The past 17 years have been about the journey here. But we’ve arrived at one destination at last. Now we need to set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory. And that means everybody, from our controlling owner downwards, the academy kids upwards, the fans in the stands and posters on forums, has to adopt the same mentality. Simply reclaim our ‘Bill Nick mentality’, in a way.
It isn’t about money. This post isn’t about money either because there’s plenty there to spend. But Spurs have principles that other clubs don’t. A salary structure designed to limit inter-player friction. A ‘cautious’ approach to agents and certain murkier deal structures. A commitment to FFP. We also don’t (yet) have the same historical pull United and Liverpool have or the bling attraction that City and Chelsea have. But Poch is saying we all have to change the way we see ourselves. And that will then change the way others see us, including players we want to sign.
As an aside, Poch has changed the way he plays the media this season, probably around the time of the MU/RM rumours. He’s teasing them more, playing with less of a straight bat. One example:
In Matt Law of the Telegraph’s weekly Spurs update (recommended) he implied that Poch now has the “upper hand over Levy” and gave an example post-Everton “when manager Pochettino reappeared in the tunnel area some time after completing his media duties carrying a glass of red wine. Asked where he had gotten his drink from, Pochettino joked that he had stolen it from the chairman’s suite because that’s where the very best wine is served.”
Well, as it happens, Poch came into the Tunnel Club (right next to his own office) not the Chairman’s Suite and was laughing and joking with staff as he selected a bottle or two. I know the truth because I was right there in the Tunnel Club at the time. It’s possible Poch had already accepted a glass in the chairman’s suite but, I suspect, Poch was simply playing to the gallery with his “stolen” comment. He’s a Plan for everything, including the press.
I was going to post something on Bale but this post is long enough already (apologies) so I’ll leave that to another time.