Whatever the long term effects of Harry Redknapp’s departure may be, two things seem already to have happened. If reports are to be believed, Luka Modric has decided to leave Spurs. That was predictable when you remember that Modric declined to sign an extended contract because of the uncertainty about Redknapp’s future when it was thought that he would be the next England manager. The deal to sign Jan Vertonghen is now suspended until Spurs appoint another manager. That may not worry the management too much because it will probably give the opportunity for some other club to sign him, and that will save money – which seems to be the form in these matters.
The story was that Spurs had offered £10m for Vertonghen, Ajax wanted £12m. What happened after that we don’t know but the logical compromise would have been to offer £11m. Yes, a million pounds is still a lot of money and we have been reminded that Spurs want to build a new stadium. The people who say that could themselves be reminded that Coventry City built a new stadium, not all that long ago, and now it’s likely to be one of the best in League One. A million pounds, in the current situation, would have been an investment, a statement to some star players who may be thinking of leaving that Spurs can still attract other stars.
The strategy should now be to tell want away players that we can make a challenge for the League Title. If we are inflicted with the Europa League we can do what we did last season – use it to give experience to some of the younger players and not worry too much if we go out. With other top four rivals committed to the Champions League we surely have a good chance
As regards the Champions League, Spurs qualified by reaching the top four and the rule that says we lose our place because Chelsea won the trophy is surely one that could and should be challenged. It would probably be too much to expect for the FA to protest that English football is being penalised for being successful but remember when the FA wanted to deduct points from Spurs and bar us from the FA Cup because of offences by a previous regime? The then Chairman Alan Sugar negotiated with the FA and they changed their minds. This time there has not been a whimper.
When Sugar brought Klinsmann to White Hart Lane he said that when you have a problem, you throw some money at it, and there can be no doubt that we have a problem now. It can be summed up as keeping together what some people saw as the best Spurs side ever and it won’t be done by dithering and haggling over every last penny. If the current management aspire to be financial experts, they should know that the worst thing in financial dealings is indecision.
As far as Modric is concerned, the familiar process began last week. Manchester United were reported to have bid £22m for the Croatian, who has been rated at £40m. Undeterred by financial logic, a gentleman in The Sun followed this up by telling his readers that Modric was on his way to United. This is how it often goes. I once laughed out loud when a sportswriter innocently wrote that a player attracting similar attention “was bound to be unsettled by all this speculation.” Isn’t that why it’s done?
The disappointment of Spurs fans is not simply that we’ve lost the Champions League place that the team fairly won Arsenal won their last match 3 – 2 and stayed above us, with all three goals due to errors by a reserve goalkeeper. We were beating them at the Emirates and our second goal was from a penalty conceded by the goalkeeper. Against current practice he stayed on but had Arsenal been reduced to ten men they would never have come back and beaten us. One goal in any of several games would have given Spurs the points they needed to take third place. So very near and yet so far. The management should recognise this and respond to our support with decisive action.
The great Australian athlete Herb Elliot once said that the British press is the most vicious in the world and their attitude to any sportsman who appeared to be struggling with this career is, “That bloke’s on the way down – I’m going to kick him down and keep him there.”
I’ve yet to meet anyone who disagreed with that and already one football writer has said that the only way Spurs can now go is down. There seems to me a strong possibility that he might be proved right – which should provide the strongest possible motivation to prove him wrong. I suspect that like me, a lot of other long term supporters are tired of waiting for action, tired of being told that signings are about to be made, only to hear no more until it’s announced that the players concerned have gone to other clubs or have decided to stay where they were. In the latter case, it’s probably because they feel less than flattered by the desperate haggling over a relatively small amount of money.
Arsenal and Chelsea have already strengthened their squads while all that Spurs have done is sell Ryan Nelsen and Niko Kranjcar. In the latter case, Kranjcar was bought from Portsmouth when Luka Modric was injured in an early match and he proved a very able deputy. Wouldn’t it have been prudent to keep him until we know what’s going to happen with Modric?
Well, stop press news is that the Vertonghen deal is still deadlocked, Villas-Boas has denied reports that he’s about to take over – which may not mean that it won’t happened – and after similar speculation about Blanc nothing more has been heard. As somebody says at the end of Hamlet, “The rest is silence.”
Ah well, there are probably quite a few League One managers who we could get on the cheap, particularly if there’s one who has just been sacked, so if we’re going to act like small operators, why not do the job properly?
By Colin Kendell.