Tottenham head into their self inflicted mini FA Cup break riding high, going great guns under new man Tim Sherwood and understandably buoyed by their convincing 4-0 Premier League demolition of Newcastle on Wednesday night. Next up is a tricky trip to Ukraine in the first of a two-legged Europa League tie with Dnipro, a club that for many Spurs fans represent something of a relative unknown.
Yet come Thursday week Spurs fans will be welcoming back one of their own to White Hart Lane, in the form of one time manager Juande Ramos. But don’t expect street parties and a marching band, because as many of us know the end of the Ramos era was one that left the club with a now infamous 2 points from 8 games. Things may not have worked out in the end for Ramos and Spurs, but his League Cup triumph in 2008 still makes him the most successful Spurs manager in the last couple of decades and surely a man well placed to give his view on the club.
His recent interview with the Daily Mail proved illuminating; with a lot of the home truths simply reaffirming many of the things fans would have surmised about the club already. In fact many of the things he says chime well with a set of fans that remain unconvinced by the boardroom level leadership, a club that forces fans to make huge personal investments in their club but aren’t willing to match the ambition themselves. Ramos was quick to highlight this economic driven approach when discussing the clubs recent approach to transfers:
‘Spurs sold Gareth Bale in the summer and with the €100million they have signed five or six players. They will see if any of those players take off and then maybe sell them on and reinvest: that’s the business plan,’ said Ramos at the Ukraine side’s winter training camp in Alicante.’
‘It works well but you have to ask the question: what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to win money or titles? The sporting side is the priority at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. City sign Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo. They don’t look at the age of the player, they look at the performances. Spurs look at the age, thinking of a future sale.’
‘I advised them to sign Luka Modric. He spent a couple of years developing and started performing well and they sold him.’
Spurs under Levy continue to be a finishing school for players; and it is no wonder that players continue to view the club as a stepping stone to better things. Players are identified with a view to a future sale; even with someone like Erik Lamela last summer there was a clear consideration for his long term potential. How can you ever expect to do battle with the Europe’s best when you continuously shirk footballing success for turning a profit? In terms of financial prudence Spurs are up there with the best, but football should be so much more than about balance sheets, in the end it is the fans that matter and at Spurs this has seemingly long been forgotten.
In effect Spurs under Levy are trying to buy success on the cheap, and it just doesn’t work. Ramos can be written off as a bitter failure as much as you like, but the trend has continued and will do so until something emphatically changes. There have been countless times when Spurs have genuinely been on the cusp of something great, only to find themselves returning to old habits and laying their faith in someone like Darren Bent. Spurs are a business, and the football club is simple forming the frontispiece to Levy’s money-spinning exploits, it is clear why Spurs cannot progress:
Why aren’t Spurs going to win the league? Because they are always a small step below those three or four teams. Economically it works well but in sporting terms it needs a slight tuning. What are you chasing? Titles or economic success?’
‘Then you don’t sack the manager for not always being in the top four,’ he said
For all the money that they have at their disposal, Levy continues to try to buy success on the cheap. Last summer wasn’t even a change in tact, the club broke even on transfers and actually ended up cutting its wage bill, the ambition just isn’t there. The thing that makes it even worse is the fact that Levy wont even take the responsibility, he continues to swerve the issue by sacking manager after manager. You can put a couple of failures down to managerial incompetence, but all of them? Given all this it isn’t really a surprise that Spurs are the great underachievers.
Ramos may not get the cheers he perhaps deserves when he returns to Spurs, but what he will provide is a stark reminder to fans of the continued lack of ambition at the club.