By Tony Attwood
We were speaking yesterday about changes in management at the clubs, and what would happen after Mr Wenger leaves.
If I were the chairman of a football club, or maybe the man charged with making the club run smoothly for the chairman, one thing I would do would slap a no-comment clause in the contract with any manager I took on. No matter if he was sacked, if he retired, or resigned – no comment for at least 18 months.
Obviously if it were Mr Wenger I wouldn’t imagine too much of a problem – he’s generally very discrete, but supposing I’d ended up as adviser to the chairman of Tottenham and for some reason had Harry Redknapp as the team manager. I’d have thought several things upon his appointment:
a) Every club he has been involved with has then gone into administration or liquidation at some time after his tenure. That may be coincidence, but I’d better keep an eye on things, just in case.
b) He is by his own admission dyscalculic – which is frightening for a man who is central to the buying and selling of players. His vision of who is a good player or might not be as focused as that of a man who does understand figures.
c) Although profoundly dyslexic also by his own admission he “writes” columns in newspapers. That is perhaps my biggest worry of all, because if he says something once I have sacked him (as inevitably I would) he is going to put the boot in.
That is what I would think, and that is what I would want to avoid. But it seems Tottenham couldn’t or didn’t bother to get a gagging order – or maybe such things are not practical these days. So now we read that Mr Redknapp “has warned Spurs fans to brace themselves for the departure of Luka Modric.” (Oh don’t you just love that quaint old-fashioned journo language. Brace yourselves. Hold on to the railings – a semi-skimmed journalist coming through.)
Mr Redknapp of course didn’t write that – at best he said it. But I suspect it is not exactly what anyone who supports Tottenham actually wants to hear. I remember when I heard that Robin VP was saying he was off. Not my favourite memory. I’ve got used to it now, and have actually started to see it as yet another episode in the Flamini Fallacy, but still, at the time I was, as they say, gutted (probably because I wasn’t properly braced).
Anyway, Modric is Croatian (lovely country), plays in midfield and has been one of the players the media have been keen on moving around for a couple of years. Real Madrid apparently want him. Chelsea want him. But Mr Redknapp said that his boss Mr Levy promised to allow Modders to leave this year.
Mr Redknapp is reported as saying, by the Sun (so it must be true): “I would not be sure Luka would start the season at Tottenham. The club would be happy to sell if they get the right money. The chairman [Daniel Levy] said to him last year ‘Give us one more season and if Real come in, I won’t stand in your way’.”
Now I might be wrong, but wasn’t there someone else who was told by Tottenham they could go if an offer came in, and then the member of the board said no this is not true. Or did I just invent that. (Sorry, the old memory is not what it was. Probably never was).
So disruption during the pre-season is not the prerogative of Arsenal. But like Arsenal with RVP, Tottenham can think, maybe we can get some dosh and spend it on…
Well who? For Arsenal I am not sure who we would want. Saying “another full back” is not an answer, because you have to name a full back who is better than we have and who is available and who will drop the low taxes of foreign parts for the higher taxes of England. Tottenham however are looking elsewhere: for example at a goalkeeper.
But if Modric goes it will be interesting if the media then do what they do to Arsenal and start saying that players like Bale are questioning the aspirations of the club, and are unsettled, and want to go. (Actually they have already said that).
We know all about that of course, and although an Arsenal fan born and bred in Tottenham doesn’t have sympathy for the neighbours, any more than vice versa, I think both sides can recognise this player poaching is getting crazy. The only way round it, as Arsenal show this summer, is to buy big before the other guy goes. But Tottenham have a problem in that they have yet to build their stadium, and while doing that they will have to borrow money, and that will, as with the Arsenal stadium project, reduce their borrowing power. Unless their billionaire owner steps in and funds the work himself – in the style that Mr Usmanov wants. Now that would be an interesting development.
However for a moment, Tottenham and Arsenal are strangely united in being victims of the press speculation about ambition, players moving on, and all that tosh.
But here’s a word for Tottenham fans (not that they need me to saying anything). Build a great youth system, and it can save you a few shillings a year. Unless your best youth player for several years gets injured. That’s a bit of a bugger too. The Tottenham return to the reserve league after the years out of it caused by Mr Redknapp’s dislike of reserves, can only help them. It will take a few years to recover from the mess that Mr Redknapp caused by dismembering the reserves, but it is vital. Without it, in my humble opinion, progress is much harder.
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