Since current owners ENIC have been in charge at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur have burned through ten managers, with no gaffer getting much longer than two years to prove himself. During that time, Spurs have only once appeared in the Champions League, despite having twice finished in the top four, both times under the guidance of Harry Redknapp. This period has been overseen by Daniel Levy, whose record must be questioned.
It is Levy behind every sacking, and with Tottenham currently 5th and seven points behind a Manchester City that has played three games more than the London club, pressure is now building on Tim Sherwood. Having been handed only an eighteen month contract following the dismissal of Villas-Boas in the summer, rumours are rife that the former Spurs player will be given his marching orders in the summer if not earlier. Facing a 3-1 deficit in the Europa League, Spurs crashed out of the competition last night thanks to a 2-2 draw at Benfica and now find themselves with practically nothing to play for this season. On the face of it then, any potential dismissals seem fair.
However, a feature of ENIC’s ownership has been Levy’s insistence on the use of a Director of Football, first Frank Arnesen, then David Comolli, and currently Franco Baldini. What is startling about this trend is that Tottenham’s most successful period during that time was under the tenure of Harry Redknapp who refused to operate under a Director of Football.
Comolli had at this point been sacked along with then manager Juande Ramos having had decidedly mixed success, going on to have disastrous spells with St Etienne and Liverpool. Having finished fourth for consecutive seasons, Levy then took the bizarre step of firing Redknapp due to the no-nonsense boss’ refusal to deny interest in the vacant England manager post. For such a hard-nosed businessman this was a strangely personal move, and one that has hardly paid dividends.
Redknapp’s replacement, Villas-Boas was far more receptive to working under a Director of Football and Franco Baldini duly appointed. Despite guiding Tottenham to a record points total, Villas-Boas was unable to take Spurs back into the Champions League. It is certainly worth noting at this point that this record beating side was effectively the same as the one which Redknapp guided to fourth place the year before.
The summer of course saw Gareth Bale depart and a host of continental talent brought in by Baldini. None of these signings have lit up the Premier League, and whilst it is impossible to deny that every player brought in is obviously capable, there seemed little rhyme or reason as to the positions acquired. Predictably Villas-Boas and Sherwood have both since struggled to find a settled line-up or system, never mind accommodate all of these signings.
Despite having to work with a squad not of his choosing, it was Villas-Boas and Baldini that was shown the door following Spurs’ poor start to the season. It can be argued that since Villas-Boas accepted, and even actively lobbied for Baldini’s appointment then it is fair to hold him culpable. However, quite why Baldini hasn’t been equally punished is puzzling, especially if rumours that he ignored Villas-Boas’ summer transfer recommendations are to be believed.
Having had no say in the construction of the squad at his disposal it will be desperately unfair if Sherwood isn’t still the manager come the start of next season. However, football is rarely fair and it will come as no surprise if Sherwood soon faces the chop whilst Baldini serves on.