Tottenham are a team who of late seem to find themselves perpetually on the cusp of something quite special. The club have a frustrating ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, leading many to brand them the great underachievers of our game. But can a return to the two-tier management structure allow the North London club to fulfil their Premier League potential next term?
The appointment of Franco Baldini to the post of Technical Director has been a cause for major optimism among many fans. A move towards a continental structure of management, as favoured by Levy and Villas-Boas, could see a summer of change at White Hart Lane. With responsibility for player recruitment at both youth and senior levels, the appointment takes the strain away from both Chairman and Head Coach. Levy outlined the role of the new director when speaking to the clubs website:
“Franco is extremely well respected in the industry, possessing an extensive knowledge of players around the world.”
“He will strengthen our football management team, particularly in the field of recruitment, working closely with Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood across all levels on the playing side.”
Baldini is famed for a particular focus on youth recruitment; the signing of 19-year-old Marquinhos for Roma last year typifies this. However, I believe Baldini must shorten his horizons with Spurs next season to take advantage of the opportunities 2013/14 could bring to the club. With many of the top clubs going through a phase of rebuilding and regime change, there is the potential for a club with relative stability to cease on this and break through. Now I realise Villas-Boas has had only a year in charge, but in footballing terms he isn’t far off creating a dynasty. With the red half of North London showing the continued lack of ambition that has plagued their club of late, can Baldini seize this opportunity?
Advocating wholesale changes to what is already a talent rich squad is totally nonsensical. Instead Baldini needs to act early in capturing a couple of key signing to push the club forward. Acting early doesn’t mean rashly and it is likely that both Baldini and Villas-Boas have already done a lot of the groundwork behind the scenes. The advantage to Spurs over their rivals is that new management invariably means upheaval. Couple a new way of playing, backroom staff and potential signings and you can truly comprehend how hard it will be for the top clubs to gel together their squads at the start of the year. Contrast this to Spurs who will have much the same coaching styles from last year and hopefully much of the same squad and although it seems odd, the sure footing Spurs are on actually heightens the pressure on Baldini as he seeks to capitalise.
There is already evidence that Baldini will have no such time to bed in this summer. Historically Spurs have done their business late, often to the detriment of early season form. The capture of Paulinho early this month signals a total change in tact, and something completely alien to those familiar with the behaviour of Levy during preceding windows. I don’t think you can doubt the ability of the Selecao midfielder, but personally this deal was an oddity. On the list of areas in need of strengthening, most would have placed a left back and striker much higher. One can discern from this that there are indeed further large-scale moves in the pipeline, or that Villas-Boas has developed something of a liking for a certain Togolese frontman. For the sake of Spurs I really hope and genuinely believe the former is more likely.
While I believe Spurs will have an active summer under Baldini, it is still important to maintain a degree of patience. It seems commonplace to assume that a transfer composes of emailing across a bid, meeting up for a drink to discuss terms and then slapping the confirmation on the club’s website. Spurs, like many clubs, are meticulous in their transfer dealings, with Villas-Boas reported to have gone on a South American scouting sabbatical during his unemployment. The Paulinho deal was clearly not something Levy dreamt up in the pub, but because it was not reported heavily in the lead up to the deal it was considered by some quarters a quickly thrashed out deal. Brad Friedel actually mentioned the degrees to which a club like Spurs go to when conducting business while hosting a show on TalkSport. He indirectly tried to allay the constant fear that Levy spends much of a transfer window on a sunbed somewhere in the Caribbean, until someone kindly reminds him in late August that he has a club to run.
If Spurs had the funds to bring in Paulinho then they could surely afford Damiao. The debacle, which has seemed endless, fuelled much of fans’ hatred towards Spurs’ transfer policy. I don’t confess to knowing a lot more about the guy than the average punter, but I am sure that in any case, months of intense scouting by experts outweighs a couple of YouTube clips.
So while this is the most crucial of windows, I expect Spurs to take a well thought out pragmatic approach to the transfer market. Needless to say I expect most Spurs fans would want to avoid the second coming of Darren Bent.
Will this transfer window finally turn Spurs into title contenders?
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