LONDON – When you have appointed eight managers during your 13 years as chairman winning only one League Cup, it is understandable that the fans view you with a certain cynicism.
One Spurs supporter called Mauricio Pochettino “Tottenham’s eighth ex-manager under Daniel Levy.” Another said: “Make Levy the manager, then he can sack himself.”
Sympathy for Levy is holding at a steady 0 percent. None of Levy’s previous managers, who had different styles and approaches to football, has been able to fashion a team to his liking with the possible exception of Harry Redknapp, who was still fired despite Spurs’ fourth-place finish.
Tottenham is a club in a state of permanent transition and the finger of blame for being Premier League serial bridesmaids is pointed at Levy who has not (yet) been held accountable for a string of generally poor managerial appointments.
Levy is the godson of Joe Lewis, Spurs’ Bahamas-based supremo. The Spurs chairman is managing director of ENIC, the investment group that Lewis owns and the company holds a majority stake in the club.
But Lewis did not become the ninth-wealthiest person in the United Kingdom by allowing those around him to continue to make the wrong decision and Pochettino may be Levy’s last throw of the dice.
After appointing and sacking Andre Villas-Boas in 17 months — the Portuguese left White Hart Lane with £4.5 million compensation to go with the £12 million golden farewell he received when he was dismissed by Chelsea — Levy promoted Tim Sherwood.
One day, Sherwood may be a good manager, but a man without a single minute of managerial experience always seemed little more than a seat-warmer which proved the case.
Pochettino has been given a five-year contract, though the last Spurs manager to last that long was Keith Burkinshaw, who was appointed in 1976.
The Argentine has impressed during his 16 months at Southampton, but Pochettino, 42, is inexperienced and Tottenham is a huge step up from the South Coast club, which was delighted to finish eighth last season.
Under AVB and Sherwood, Spurs were sixth which, realistically, is just about as good as it can get for a club which has not won the title for 53 years, but still expects more.
Managing Spurs, where internal politics and football go hand-in-hand, is not easy. Pochettino was probably as good a manager as Spurs could attract once Louis van Gaal preferred Manchester United.
The average time a Levy manager has lasted is one year and eight months, though the five-year deal handed to Pochettino suggests the chairman will not be quite so trigger happy and will give the new man the time he needs to turn Spurs’ fortunes around.
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MALCOLM GLAZER, who died this week at age 86, never set foot in Old Trafford. Glazer, who also owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, assumed control of Manchester United nine years ago in a £790 million leverage buyout.
United was debt-free when he bought the club, but it now has debts amounting to £400 million.
Glazer, whose three sons are on the United board, borrowed to finance the purchase and then used the profits to pay off interest.
Meanwhile, thanks to the massive investment by their Middle Eastern owners, Manchester City has a training facility that borders on futuristic. Their youth set-up is the envy of just about every other club in the Premier League, while City is also pouring funds into a women’s team in the Women’s Super League.
Yet it was City, with zero debts, which was fined £50 million by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
No, I can’t understand it either.
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WE ARE NOW in the “exclusive” time zone. The sports pages are overflowing with so-called exclusive stories, usually relating to transfers of which about 5 percent will come off.
In the coming weeks, Premier League clubs will supposedly be targeting or signing players we have never heard of from clubs we have never heard of, maybe even from countries we have never heard of.
Football writers, especially those on the red top tabloids, are rarely allowed to write just an article these days. Ideally it should be an exclusive, even if it isn’t.
For an industry that should pride itself on accuracy and honesty, the meaning of the word seems to have been forgotten in time by the sports pages of British newspapers.
The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “exclusive” is: An item or story not published or broadcast elsewhere.
The alternative definition of “exclusive” in what used to be called Fleet Street is: An item or story published elsewhere, but which our readers will be unaware of.
As most people only buy one national newspaper, whatever they read in it will effectively be exclusive to them.
So why bother with the exclusive label?
Sports desks use the tag as a sort of incestuous game of one-upmanship between themselves which means little or nothing to the reader.
And anyway, an “exclusive” too often means one of two things — money has changed hands for the story or it has been lifted from a foreign source.
If a media organization pays someone to speak to them, or rather, to “sensationally reveal” some alleged scandal (with “exclusives” you don’t just reveal), then it should be exclusive. But stealing an article from a foreign newspaper or website, translating it and claiming it as an exclusive is rather more sinister and surely borderline illegal.
This week a red top ran what it billed as an exclusive interview with a big-name player talking about his new manager, which was as far from being an exclusive as possible because it was originally on the site of a Dutch news agency.
It was their exclusive and exclusives cannot be passed on can they?
Oh yes they can.
Then there is the “world exclusive” which gives the impression sports desks around the globe will start internal inquiries to find out how on earth their football desk did not have the sensational revelation that someone “had a row with his manager and a training bust-up with . . . “
Thankfully, I can exclusively, if not very sensationally, reveal the sports editor of The Japan Times has never telephoned me and said: “Why didn’t you get us that Carlos Kickaball story — and I don’t care about the time difference.”
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.