|Over the last month or so, we have
seen one of our England full-backs leave for a title rival and
another virtually put out a "come and get me" plea, with talk of
dressing room unrest amid the club's wage structure.
Players who want to leave "to win things" are missing one vital thing. That is that they have been part of a side that has not won things and they have contributed to that ... or are they saying "I am better than the rest of the side and being dropped into a side of big money signings will take me to 'the next level'" ?
I am not saying that Kyle Walker shouldn't have been sold, but he has gone to a club where the manager has proclaimed that he doesn't coach tackling, so has had to go out and spend over GBP130 million on players who can. While Guardiola has been successful in his previous clubs, his first season at Manchester City has provided a blot in his copybook and we await to see if throwing money at the problem changes the fortunes of the side, as it has done in the past for him.
Then Danny Rose blurts out to the media that he wants to be paid what he is worth and wants to the club sign players who you don't have to look up on Google. Interesting timing in his comments, which he apologised for. That's being sorry for the timing ... not the comments. He said Tottenham's wage structure was upsetting a number of players and rumours of a standing ovation for him in the dressing room the next day delighted the media, who foresee Tottenham imploding. This is a player who hasn't played in six months and wants to go straight into a team that will win silverware. Also, he was probably a player who you would have had to look up on Google when we signed him. Nobody twisted his arm to sign his last Spurs contract with improved terms, but now he is twisting things to turn things to his advantage.
Both players have been part of the best defence in the Premier League over the last two seasons. Is moving to a club who will pay them more money a challenge because they will have to step up their game and drag the other two or three alongside them with them ? And while both players were missing Yorkshire, one has ended up in Manchester, with the other is being courted by the red half of that city and also by Chelsea. Hardly Doncaster Rovers is it ?
You don't expect loyalty in the game in this day and age and that is why players like Ledley King are rapidly disappearing from the game. One club players used to be common, but now, it will be amazing if any of our current crop stay the course of their career at the Lane. I would like to think that some of them might consider it, but fear not. Some follow the money, while some chase a handful of silverware, but when the bottom falls out of the Golden Goose, players might find themselves in a tricky situation. The massive amounts of money being exchanged for players and paid to them in wages is not what they are worth, it is what the owners will pay them, with the TV money currently burning a hole in their pockets. While there is competition for the Premier League coverage, I imagine the rights packages will continue to go up in price, with the PL becoming more and more affluent. But when will the bubble burst, for it surely will one day ? Clubs could collapse under the burden of their wage bills and others will find their assets suddenly massively devalued.
If every player wanted to win things, then all the players would end up playing for two or three clubs, as there aren't that many things to win. We are seeing Chelsea, who won the title last season, have their manager whingeing that he needs to buy more players and that there is less pressure on Tottenham, so if they don't win the league the manager won't lose his job. There a few a few things that should be pointed out that are behind that statement.
Firstly, Tottenham do want to win the league and the fans will be critical if it doesn't happen after progressing so well over the last couple of seasons. It is just Spurs are doing it a different way. If your owner throws millions at players in terms of transfer fees and wages, then the pressure will build, as you are saying "We are buying big money, well paid players" and if they don't do the business, then you pay the consequences. Levy and Pochettino are building a squad that will last and not needing such high priced purchases to keep them at the top.
Secondly, we have seen over the last few decades that it is possible to buy Premier League titles, going back to Blackburn and more recently with Chelsea and Manchester City. Spurs do not have the resources that the other top six have, but with the new stadium on the horizon, it may be that the revenue it brings will boost the coffers once the construction costs have been paid off.
If you are unable to coach players to play above the level expected of them, then does buying high profile players in make you a better coach ? At Juventus and now at Chelsea, Conte has been handed a squad plus a lot of money to add to it, so while he no doubt had good tactical nous and gets out on the training pitch, would winning the league with his squad be more of an achievement than if he had a set of players who he would like in his squad (Kane, Alli, etc), who have been coached to that standard ? Ask Chelsea fans and they won't care. Having "one of their own" is fast becoming a fading desire, with their youngsters invariably finding a path to the first team ending in disappointment at Stamford Bridge or in satisfaction at Watford, Bournemouth or a number of other clubs, where they can ply their trade.
The real issue with us is that Tottenham have to decide what their transfer policy is. Is it to not pay top prices for players to compete with Chelsea, the Manchester clubs and Arsenal and to find a key player who might make the difference between second and top ? Or is it to pay more for young players (such as Juan Poyth) to secure potentially talented players to ease into the first team ... or if they are like Dele Alli, then to put into the team more or less straight away. While it is unlikely that all signings of young players will hit the jackpot, the current first team shows that it can pay dividends and save the club a lot of money in the long run. Bringing in young players or bringing them through the Academy obviously works, with Conte so covetous of our players.
The fact that we have lost the tag of being a "selling club" is testament to what Levy and Pochettino have created at Tottenham. Most players want to stay and work with the manager rather than leave at the first hint of any interest in them. Signing most of the squad up on long term contracts ensures that if they do want to move on, like Walker, it is on the club's terms and that they bring in big money. The club and the coaching staff have helped create the player they have become and it was nice to see Walker acknowledge that )albeit belatedly). It will be intriguing to see if he continues on a steady upward learning curve under the tutelage of Guardiola, who he was looking forward to improving his game.
Will Spurs end up hamstrung or purse-strung by the start of the season or more likely the start of September as a result of not "getting our business done early" ? The bulk of the squad will be the same as last season, but any new arrivals will not have had the benefit of a Pochettino pre-season, which has set other players back a season, as we have seen before.
We need to hit the ground running this season, with Wembley as our home ground and to put some more points on the board in the opening month than we have done in recent seasons.
Fingers crossed that the money is found to make signings that make a differences and keep the club competitive and financially viable.
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