Transfer deadline day has become something of a marquee event in itself, these days. Live text pages online and 24 hours of rolling television coverage, all there to let you know how far down the M4 John Oster is, as he completes a free transfer to Bristol Rovers. For the record, John Oster is currently still a free agent, but the grandeur and excitement of deadline day, tends to divert attention away from the cold, hard facts. The importance of sorting out your transfer activity early, is absolutely vital and for Tottenham Hotspur, that couldn’t be more important this summer.
In fact, Spurs should be the poster boys for the anti-deadline day campaign. The Lilywhite’s supremo, Daniel Levy, is well revered by fans for his astute business acumen. The cut-price swoop for Rafael van der Vaart, the £30.5million received for Dimitar Berbatov and my personal favorite, managing to recoup nearly £8million from Sevilla for Didier Zokora. In a world where football clubs are run as businesses, Levy is one of the best in that business. He tends to squeeze every penny, out of every deal and for the club; you would of thought that’s a pretty good trait.
That’s not quite the case though. The most common tactic used in quite a few of Levy’s deals, has been to simply sit back, and admire the sand pass through the hourglass. Very simply, by waiting till the very last minute, clubs that are desperate to sell will sell, and those desperate to buy, will buy.
For example, Manchester United were desperate to attain the services of Berbatov in the summer of 2008. As an asset and an extremely talented footballer, Levy was of course happy to let time tick away, until United eventually caved into his asking price. Despite the fact that Berbatov was becoming a disruptive influence, is quite a different story, but no one can argue that £30million was a good price for the Bulgarian.
Similarly, no one could argue that the sale of Robbie Keane to Liverpool for nearly £20million the same year, was a good deal. Hang on, wasn’t that both their star strikers sold, with no replacements brought in though? It most certainly was and Spurs suffered a cataclysmic start to the league, which spelt the end of Juande Ramos. Not such great business after all.
And Levy’s educated game of risk can be just as dodgy when working the other way. Emmanuel Adebayor came to White Hart Lane within the last week of the transfer window and Scott Parker on deadline day, in 2011. We will never know the difference they would of made, but an extremely unsettled Spurs team got thrashed by Manchester United and Manchester City in their first two league games. Both players should have been at White Hart Lane far earlier, especially Scott Parker, who had supposedly been targeted for several months. Even Rafael van der Vaart’s deadline day arrival in 2010 came after Spurs lost 1-0 at home to Wigan.
The European Championships and Olympic football tournament that sandwich the transfer window this summer, make it more treacherous than ever. Transfer targets will skyrocket if they have a good tournament, as also the price of key assets kill plummet if they pick up a serious injury. No one wants to hear it, but if Luka Modric has sinister intentions, he must be shipped out now and the money reinvested. Of course, Spurs could squeeze another £5million if he has a good Euros, but the risk of another Berbatov is not worth taking. But who do you trust to reinvest this money? Dare you say it; do Tottenham need another pair of hands?
The role of the sporting director is maligned in this country. Spurs have continuously taken stick for it, even though it is commonplace on the continent, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and every decent European club having one. Apparently it doesn’t fit the English culture. Although apparently having a national football academy and a wealth of Uefa licensed coaches didn’t fit our culture either and look how well that’s done us internationally.
Damien Comolli was the man behind Berbatov, Bale, Modric, Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto. Yes, he made mistakes, but even his less successful signings included a certain Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is now making quite an impression for AC Milan. Say what you like about him, but the players just mentioned are now worth double, treble what Spurs paid for them. Harry Redknapp however, has decided to plump for short-term, stopgap measures. Scott Parker is a great player, but you’re not going be able to build for the future with a 31-year old in midfield. Emmanuel Adebayor was opportunistic, but not very forward thinking on a year-long loan from Manchester City, that is not guaranteed to be made permanent. Redknapp even admits to having very little to do with the singing of Rafael van der Vaart. Would you really trust him with say, £40million?
Football is now a global enterprise. Scouting, coaching, transfers, analyzing the kids in the academy, flying around the globe to unearth the next Sandro. It’s an awful lot for just one man. As purse strings tighten with Financial Fair Play rules coming in, clubs can’t keep paying for proven talent, but they don’t need to search for a ‘bargain’. It’s a lot more complex than that. Bale and Modric weren’t flukes or ‘bargains’; they were the result of careful scouting and consideration. Redknapp can’t keep buying Scott Parker’s and Levy can’t keep waiting till deadline day.
The role of the sporting-director might be misunderstood in this country, but Spurs fans more than understand how important organization and forward planning is. During a summer which could be one of the most important for the club in recent times, they could do worse than ask for an extra pair of hands.
Fear for Spurs in the transfer market this summer? Happy to let Harry Redknapp loose with Dan the man’s cash? Or do you simply hate the thought of a Sporting Director back at the Lane? Let me know on Twitter, follow @samuel_antrobus