Open letter from the Chairman, Daniel Levy
Dear Supporter, How quickly things change in football. Our pre-season form, our start to the transfer window and early summer signings had everyone optimistic for the season ahead. The last few days of that window and our poor start to the season has seen all that change. This has been a difficult period for the Club and many questions are being asked and much criticism levelled. I should like to update you on some important developments announced a short while ago, to answer some of your questions and also to outline our thinking as we look to improve our current position going forward.
Here it comes. The double-barrel PR shot-gun, aimed directly at our faces, and when fired, we get covered in fluff, glitter and care bears.
We have faced many key challenges as we have progressed over the last few seasons and we have had to take important decisions at crucial times - without the wonderful benefit of hindsight and always under full public scrutiny. As such, they have been judgement calls. Some of our decisions and judgements may at times be unpopular with our fans but we always take decisions we believe to be in the best interests of our Club, at the time we make them, and for the right reasons. In many cases, it is simply not possible or practical for all of the factors involved to enter the public domain and I do understand that this can alter or impair the perception of why something has or hasn't been done.
So basically, we sacked Martin Jol because it was in the best interest of the Comolli and Kemsley. And you agreed to it even though history would suggest caution when sacking and replacing managers. Good judgement call there. It's what you get paid for.
Today, as formally announced by the Club, I have made one such important judgement call and in doing so I have taken some very difficult decisions. Relieving Juande Ramos, our Head Coach, and Juande's assistants, Gus Poyet and Marcos Alvarez, of their posts is not something I have undertaken lightly. Unfortunately, our record of just three League wins since our memorable Carling Cup victory against Chelsea last February, combined with our extremely poor start to the season, led the Board and I to determine that significant change was necessary as a matter of urgency. We are grateful to Juande, Gus and Marcos for all their hard work - they are incredibly professional, committed individuals and I regret that their time in the Premier League has not gone as well as we had all hoped..
Quick sweep under the carpet. But at least you stepped up and admitted failure with these appointments. Leaving it any longer might have proved suicidal out on the pitch.....and in the stands.
The English Premier League is an unforgiving competition - time was no longer on our side and was a luxury we simply could not afford. We have quite clearly not performed to the best of our ability for many months now and our poor run of form is not something we could allow to continue unchecked.
In appointing Harry Redknapp as our new manager, we are delighted to have secured the services of someone we have long since admired and whose track record and knowledge of all levels of football, including importantly the Premier League, is outstanding. I know Harry is relishing the opportunity of managing a Club he knows well, not least from his son Jamie's time here as a player and Captain, and of re-invigorating and restoring confidence to a squad of highly talented international players. With his great knowledge of the game and his excellent motivational skills, Harry has inspired his teams to consistently over-perform, whilst his preferred attacking style of playing the game sits comfortably with our Club's history, heritage and the type of entertaining football our fans want and expect to see.
Easy on the points scoring. Jamie was 'ok' for Spurs as a player. And if you've been following tv, you'll have seen his transformation into the Sky Sports poster boy. Though I doubt he'll be churning out any more anti-Spurs chat now that his old man is in charge of first team affairs.
Harry has the right tools for the job (ooh) and should see us move out of the bottom 3 before Christmas. But let's not forget West Ham United (too good to go down) went down playing attacking football and his style also sat comfortably with their clubs history, heritage and brand of entertaining football.
It's not a given that we'll be safe by the time you unwrap your Xmas presents. Not yet. And we'll have to wait and see how Harry handles life at a club like Spurs, where we have far bigger expectations (deluded, aren't we?) than lickle West Ham or Pompey.
We have spent around £175m on new players over the last 3 years. The purchasing of players is a critical aspect of our Club and, given our current position, it is essential that we go into the January transfer window with absolute confidence in the advice being offered to the Board. Following a meeting of the Directors and a full review of our football management structure, I can also inform you that Damien Comolli has left the Club with immediate effect. Damien will not be directly replaced.
In my opinion, and with the benefit that comes with running our Club with and without a Sporting Director in the past seven years, the successful management of a football club is not about structures or job titles. As in most businesses, it's about people: their personal qualities, their knowledge, their experience, their relationships, communication skills, interaction with colleagues, leadership and, of course, their ability.
£175M? Christ. Does that not tell you that the DoF doesn't/didn't work? You're meant to be good with numbers. No 'big thank you' and goodbye for Damien?
All that stuff about personal qualities and ability can be said of the players along with some of the people you've had at the club in recent years (Kemsley anyone?). But that's probably you're point, especially with regards to the management team and the fact that you've brought in a manager who is on par with Jol, re: personality. Though I don't think Jol was half the media whore Harry is.
In Harry, we are also accepting with his appointment that now is the right time for us to move back to a more traditional style of football management at our Club. one which we believe will be capable of initiating our climb back up the Premier League table and to maintaining our challenge in the UEFA, Carling and FA Cup competitions.
However, I should stress that we are not in this current position because of any single factor or any one individual. Human nature often dictates the need to find someone or something to blame, but in these circumstances we need all our energies to be directed instead to supporting the team and improving our League position. Nothing else matters at this time.
Yes we are. Its down to you. The fans, as witnessed on Sunday, backed the team rather splendidly. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna sweep all this under the carpet and just forget about it because 'nothing else matters'. It's happened and it might happen again.
It will happen again. Based on history. You're job is prove me (us) wrong. The people that doubt you.
That said, and without dwelling too much on last summer, I do also want to take this opportunity to address some of the other concerns you have raised. Many of the questions I have been asked and much of the reasoning for our poor start to the season has centred on our striker options. I do not believe this to be the sole reason, but I do feel it is important to set out the facts once again regarding the sale of two popular and talented strikers: Keane and Berbatov. Robbie Keane's departure was undoubtedly the shock of the summer. I personally had an excellent relationship with Robbie and he was one player that I always thought would end his career at the Club. I know you all felt the same. I was as disappointed as any of you when he informed me that he wanted to join what he described as his favourite boyhood club. Against this background and despite his obvious professionalism, our coaching staff felt that it would be very difficult to expect Robbie to continue to be such a positive influence in our dressing room when he so clearly wanted to leave us. The decision to sell Robbie was therefore not a financial one, although in such circumstances it was vital for our Club to secure the maximum possible value for a player of Robbie's ability.
We could have tried a Gareth Barry stance with him, but fair enough. £20M is a lot for Robbie. What makes all this frustrating is that money has gone on compensation for sacking Ramos, Comolli etc. So we've left without the energetic and match-winning Keane and out of pocket on the money made from his transfer to Liverpool. Ho hum, hey? Great bit of business right there.
The sale of Dimitar was an entirely different matter. Dimitar first intimated to Martin Jol that he wanted to join Manchester United after just one season at our Club - and just 10 days before the end of the summer 2007 transfer window. At that time, the coaching staff's preference was to let Dimitar go and for us to replace him. This was not something I would allow - at any price - as I felt that Dimitar's request was completely unreasonable. From that moment on, we obviously knew we had an issue and we spent many hours over the course of the season that followed trying to persuade Dimitar to stay. I rebuffed a number of approaches from clubs , including Manchester United, this May and again in early July. Despite press stories to the contrary, there was no extended period of negotiation with Manchester United and their July offer of £20m was not increased until they contacted us again in the last few days of the transfer window.
Dimitar is a squirrel loving twat. The more I think about this, the more I believe we should have accepted £20M and got rid of him the first time round. I've changed my mind based on everything that's happened since his transfer. Magic of hindsight.
The club said they would never let another Rebrov situation happen again. Or another Campbell situation. Let's not go through another summer of verbals like we did with the stroppy Bulgarian. He wanted out. He was disruptive and as noble and right standing up for the club and the written contract is - the club NEVER wins. The player always does. So playing hard-ball with Utd and waiting until the final moments to sell him was a mistake. I know that's not how it happens, according to you. But from a high level point of view, it's exactly what happened.
What was wrong with telling Utd to pay up within a set deadline - and also tell the player he wont move unless Utd make a bid for him and the offer is accepted? Start of the summer this could have been done and dusted. Basically, when it comes to players - men - like Berbatov, we as a club need to be a far bigger cunt than the player in question. Enough with the begging and wanting a player who quite obviously wants to leave. Shinebox. Go home, get it.
The internal decision to sell Dimitar at the beginning of the window was premised on a suitable replacement being found and on the assumption that Dimitar couldn't be persuaded to change his mind. Under FIFA regulations, if a players signs a contract before his 28th birthday, he has only to serve 3 years of that contract before he can terminate it and join a new club. Whilst some compensation is payable under such circumstances the level of compensation is set by a third party body in accordance with predetermined factors, and in Dimitar's case would have been but a small fraction of the fee we received from Manchester United. But even this was not the final determining factor in our decision to part company with him. Despite the potential cost to the Club and knowing that our efforts to sign an additional, experienced striker had failed, the final decision on whether or not to sell Dimitar was not a financial decision but a footballing one. It was felt that he had not been a positive influence on the pitch or in the dressing room and that this would continue.
Is that right about the FIFA regulation? I think he can move abroad but not to another domestic club in England. So not sure its all that relevant there Daniel.
So, not financial? Why such desperation to get that extra £5M/£6M then? Getting the most and not allowing Utd to benefit from the players disgusting lack of loyalty is again noble. But in this case it didn't seem like we truly believed he would actually leave, hanging onto a billion in one chance.
But you're saying we had already failed in bringing in a striker, so selling him at the last minute is not relevant to other dealings? See somehow, I think a clean break at the start of the summer would have made it easier. For a start, we would have had £40M+ from Berba and Keane and that other Russian player who you don't mention in your letter might have been purchased from Zenit.
The timing of the actual transfer of Dimitar was completely immaterial and unconnected to our bringing in a replacement for him. We had been aware for a long period that he was likely to leave and our negotiations to get the best fee for him was independent of our work to replace both him (as we did with Pavyluchenko) and Robbie, with experienced strikers.
The ultimate failure - as I have said before - of our dealings in this summer's transfer window was not about the departure of two good strikers, or because we have operated a structure that happens to have had a Sporting Director and a Head Coach, or because our financial parameters are too rigid - after all, let´s not forget that we did bring in much quality to enhance our current squad. Quite simply, we failed because we were not as decisive or as successful in identifying or replacing the two strikers as early as we should have been. Perhaps these insights will help once and for all to de-bunk the myths that have been perpetuated around these transfers.
So basically, its not because of the structure the club operated with (DoF and coach) and yet we failed to identify or replace both strikers. Surely if we failed it was because of the structure? Whilst Wigan stole Zaki (be it on loan), we panic-bought Pav. The Arshavin saga went on for ages and ages and never happened, and from the sounds of it because we didn't meet the asking price. And (allegedly) a last minute call to Reading (for Doyle) was, well, last minute. No one was there to pick up. You've not really de-bunked anything here. Just deflected.
There are a fucking shed load of forwards out there. I can't believe for a moment that a competent coach/DoF/chairman would not aim to work every single day for the summer to bring someone in. There is no shortage of quality forwards. I refuse to believe Spurs could not draw up a list of 10 players. Remember, we are Tottenham. Not Real Madrid.
You all failed the club on this.
There is also an inaccurate perception that our Club is run entirely for profit and that football is secondary. Success on the pitch is the sole determinant to the future of the Club and its financial stability, so it would be entirely counter-productive to have anything other than football as our first and foremost priority and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise. At a time when football clubs are criticised for losing money and for their debt levels, I am surprised that we should be criticised for running our Club on a sound commercial basis and for making a profit. Thank goodness we do make a profit because it has significantly supported the progress we have made over the last seven years and has helped to make us one of Europe's most secure Clubs. I make no apologies for the fact that we reinvest the Club's positive cash flow in both players and infrastructure.
Yes yes. You are great with the money and the merchandising and the profit margin. And our profit margin might even be bigger if we didn't spend so much money year in year out and find that it doesn't always improve the squad. Comolli, arguably, didn't always buy badly - but he did over-spend. And just because we are rich doesn't mean we should be spending £8M or so on Zokora and Kaboul. Money saved by a better system of scouting could be spent on forking out extra in club wages for the one or two players that have in the past turned us down for not offering enough. The reason people question you is because, for a club of our alleged stature - when the likes of Carrick, Keane and Berbatov do move on for a lot of money, it feels like we sell the parts of the jigsaw that stop us from completing it.
All three left because the lure of the Top 4 is too great. But when MON stops Barry from leaving Villa, sometimes people see our initial stamping of foot as just part of the money-dance you make when the offer is finally accepted.
Goes back to the lack of transparency, but don't expect the club to ever be 100% forthcoming with what happens behind the scenes. Not sure anyone expects that.
Sadly, we (you and the fans) will always be losers to the likes of Keane and Berbatov. The drastic measure to stop it can be something for you to look into. For a fee, I'd be willing to offer my assistance.
And so back to looking ahead and to redress our current position.
Firstly, in Harry, we have secured the services of an excellent Manager of proven Premier League quality. Harry will be working with a squad of quality internationals. We must not forget that this team, without the benefit of three additional players at the time (Pavlyuchenko, Corluka, Campbell), gave a more than creditable performance against the current League leaders. I have spoken to the senior players in recent days and I know the players share our frustration and I know they will dig deep to produce the performances we know they are capable of - they have our full support - and support for the team is absolutely critical at this time.
Yes ok Daniel. We'll stop threatening demonstrations and protests and forever sing songs for the team.
Stop with the patronising. Its sickly.
As for Harry. What quality exactly? Let's not build it up to anything more than what it actually is. But then again, you're not are? No mention of a 2-3 year plan. Just getting us to play decently again and push forward and up the table. Fine. He's a decent man-manager, which after the silent Spaniard, both fans and players will be very happy with. He's a personality, so Sky Sports will be off our backs for a while. Whether this is the right type of kick up the arse we need, we'll find out 10 games from now.
What type of players we can attract will altogether be a different kettle of fish. But this might be one of the upsides. We need some work-horses and not powder-puffs.
If Harry is a run-away success, then all those times we pointed at the DoF system and laughed will come back to haunt you. Because every manager you've sacked might have worked out if they were left to manager the transfer like Harry will.
We have all been subjected to much criticism - myself, the Board, coaching staff and players - having now made what I considered to be necessary, sweeping changes to our football management team, we must re-assert ourselves, regain our focus, and answer our critics in the best way possible - by winning games again.
Secondly, we must prepare ourselves to take advantage of the January transfer window. Harry's experience of the UK and international transfer market will be of critical importance and I shall be looking to Harry for clarity on our priorities. As Chairman, and as previously in our former structure, I must, ultimately, rely on the knowledge and judgement of my technical staff to give me a clear football-based view and recommendation on our transfer targets.
Came no Daniel. Are you saying you're a bit of a thicko with the old football shit? Do you want me to explain the offside rule? Actually, let's pass on the offside rule.
You must have some knowledge, but sure you had to rely on Comolli and his recommendations i.e. Can I please have £8M for Zokora? Maybe on the pitch performances would have given you a clue on just how successful your staff proved to be when spending that money you make for the club.
As long as Harry doesn't start shipping in players with unpronounceable names and David James, I'll be ok with it. Can we expect Defoe back? £10m should do the trick. You'll be down by £3M, but that's just loose change.
I can assure you that everyone here, from the Board to our most junior staff member, shares the frustration and disappointment of the season so far, but I can also assure you that all of us in every area of the Club are doing what we can to help the players to produce the level of performance and the consistent good results our fans expect and all of us crave.
We have achieved too much over the last seven years - three successive qualifications for Europe, a League Cup win, Training Centre planning permission - and still more to announce - to allow this to be overtaken and thrown away overnight. We have suffered a set back and we have taken strong action.
Too much? You mean not enough? Did we get an open bus parade for the Training Centre Planning Permission Cup? But yeah, considering we had no progress for well over 10 years - since Martin Jol we've made the right type of leap forward. The same pundits and tabloid hacks who laugh at our current predicament are the same ones who put us down for a 5th spot finish. Seems our esteemed football journalists believed that without a DM and true class forwards we'd do just fine, even with our lack of results since March. So much for their expert opinions. The fucking melters.
To get into that position regardless is fine. But winning the Carling Cup is just a bonus (previous winners never pushed on - its not a sign of actual 'Top4 ' pushing progress). All it did is prove the players could finally beat a couple of rivals, and avoid choking. And it's something we all appreciate. Ramos did have one big positive impact.
Sacking him was the only option. All a bit dizzying, this isn't it?
I have received numerous e-mails and letters from supporters offering advice and suggestions on how the Club should be run and what we should and should not do. I do appreciate the time people take to write to me and when the e-mails or letters are constructive and not abusive, I can assure you that I read as many as I can. And I do take notice of your views. Indeed, I have been heartened by the fact that the over-riding response from our supporters has been one of determination to get behind the team. Too often in difficult times supporters can forget that their support is needed even more than ever. The team will tell you how much of a difference it can make to them on the pitch. White Hart Lane needs to once again become the fortress it was, not so very long ago. With your tremendous support it can.
I try not to be abusive. Just honest. Colourful language is something you should expect from a football fan.
Yet more ass-kissing from your good self with yet another mention of the crowd/support. We know what our job is and we'll always make noise. And you're saved from protests and water-balloon attacks for the time being.
Finally, I know I am sometimes criticised for appearing too business-focused, too uncommunicative, or simply for not being emotional enough when it concerns our team. The majority of our fans know that it's simply not my way to seek a high profile. I do not crave publicity, neither do I believe it is necessary to do my job. I would prefer our team to make the headlines, for the right reasons. We now have a manager who is a great communicator to players, fans and the media alike and I shall also, personally, look to keep you all informed and your questions answered as we progress through the season.
Your support has never been more important - and we are grateful to so many of you for the messages of support and encouragement the Club has received during this difficult period. Now's the time for all of us to pull together and to get behind Harry and the team.
Very heart-felt and upfront, even though you've carefully side-stepped and deflected blame quite creatively. See things change very quickly in football. On and off the pitch. A week ago people wanted to protest and this week people aren't too fussed about it. But the reasons they wanted to protest in the first place are still moments in time that have happened and someone should be accountable. They are in the past, and will be there forever for people to refer back to and use going forward.
You've sacked Comolli. You've got rid of the DoF structure.
That has bought you a get out of jail card even if there is still a minority (majority?) that believe you should step down. But with Joe Lewis seemingly detached from ENIC, it seems you'll only ever step down if you sold the club. And at the moment, that doesn't appear to be something you wish to do.
I'm sure with the new stadium annoucement forthcoming, the fans who did hate you may soon be worrying about other things. Fickle bunch we are. And you know that.
So, I'll let you get on with the accountancy and judge you on how Harry performs. Just make sure you keep an eye out for my next letter.