The sudden burst of form from the much derided pairing of David Bentley and Gareth Bale at Spurs, born of the back of injuries to regulars Lennon and Assou-Ekotto has shown to the full extent the merits of always trying to hold on to your talent; even when that talent has spent months clothed and hidden away beneath mediocrity.
For young and ambitious players of the like of Bentley and Bale, a few hard months of bench-warming can sometimes do the trick and help to bring back the fight and intensity that made them great players and talents to begin with; also bringing down the ego a little and serving as a reminder that they haven’t truly made it yet, until they maintain a consistently high level.
Levy is famous for his unwillingness to let players leave for too much less than he paied for them, but this is a strength and not a failing. He’s certainly had a few testing cases to deal with at Spurs after the Ramos and Comolli years; full of 10 to 15 million pound under-performing stars. However Spurs continue to keep a strong, committed squad, while balancing the books and keeping the finances solid and stable, in a way rare to most modern football clubs.
Now is really not a time to be selling anyway or more importantly not to need to sell. Hardly any players moved for real big money in January, with all the top sides feeling the pinch and turning the clocks back to the sort of spending level we saw 5 to 10 years ago. With Spurs a financially secure club, Levy has and will use the luxury and advantage of being able to hold out for the price he wants on players like Pavlyuchenko, without the fear of having to sell them. Niko Kranjcar’s move to Spurs for less than £3 million from financially wrecked Portsmouth, the clearest example possible of the unfairly low prices that can be offered to secure real talents, once a club has been seen to want to offload and the vultures have started swooping.
Though £8 million for the Russian striker is hardly as ridiculously low a price as Kranjcar’s, it is still an example of a mid-table club like Birmingham trying to snatch a bargain and gain a star player, who for whatever reason hasn’t quite made it at a bigger club. It is time now for Redknapp to give Pavlyuchenko his chance again, like Bentley and Bale; suitably humbled and desperate to fight for his first team place again, with some superb natural ability to back him up. Natural ability that he showed with the exquisite goal against Leeds after a one-touch passing move between Palacios, Bale, Defoe and himself, to work space for a nicely controlled finish into the bottom corner of Ankegren’s net.
You could argue alternatively that Pavlyuchenko’s wages have built up too much to make him worth keeping on, with the striker apparently having earned over a million pounds since the start of the season, in which he’s barely played. However, a couple of million would become cat-feed if Roman was able to start showing his true skills again; which seems more likely with Keane’s loan move up to Celtic. You can’t keep selling good players just to try and save money, as Spurs found to their cost when Defoe, Keane and Berbatov all left before the start of the 2008-9 season and they gained just 2 points in the first 8 games. There is also a general rule that you won’t get great money for top players in January, as the bigger clubs tend to do less business in that window. If Harry plays Pavlyuchenko on a fairly regular basis he’ll easily be worth the 10 million in the summer, though unfortunately not with the assistance of a good showing in the World Cup to boost his price, as happened in Euro 2008, before Spurs forked out £14 million for him.
Levy arguably got his fingers burnt a little with the cut price sale of Darren Bent in the summer; with Bent scoring 15 Premier League goals so far this season, in albeit a struggling Sunderland team. This time around, the Spurs chairman will ensure he doesn’t make the same mistake in allowing players like Bentley, Bale and Pavlyuchenko to leave for that much less than they would be worth at their best. If you have a house or property and can ride out a period of low property prices comfortably, why then would you sell your property when it was at its least valuable point.