in the enic of time


ENIC's mission statement from the time they bought the majority shareholding from Alan Sugar back in 2000 was to break into the Champions League places. Although we have been flirting with these top 4 positions over recent years, we are currently battling against relegation and this would seem to sum up the schizophrenic performance of the club over the last 25 years. 

The club, of course, has a rich history of success and of achieving this by playing a certain brand of football that would be described as exciting and attack minded and of which the supporters are justifiably proud. I don't think many Spurs fans over the years would have sacrificed flair to secure success - the feeling has always been that as long as we had a good cup run, played well against Arsenal and generally played "flair" football, then mid-table would just about satisfy us. We certainly would not want to achieve success by playing the Arsenal style of the 1970s or that of Everton in the majority of the 1980s. 

Although this belief is still core to any Spurs fan, the feeling over recent years has shifted slightly in that the expectation levels have risen to where the majority of supporters, and probably the Directors,  now feel that we are at least a top six club and very much knocking on the door or the Champions League places. However, the clubs current position does not show this and we do now need a lengthy period of stability for the investment in the club to reach its fruition. So has Mr Levy's tenure brought more stability to the club and is it better placed now then before ENIC took over ? 

Over the last 25 years the club has continually imploded just when it appeared that they were on the verge of something special - the FA and UEFA Cup successes of the early 80s came to an end because we couldn't keep Keith Burkinshaw, the great 1987 team quickly disintegrated to relegation dogfighters after Pleat left, the 1991 Cup final success again lead to nothing but relegation battles the following seasons due to Venables moving upstairs and then falling out with Alan Sugar, the great side of 94-95 again lead to nothing, in part due to us being unable to hold on to, or successfully replace, Klinsmann, with the rest of the nineties being just more flirtations with relegation under Gross and then Graham. Not all of these "implosions" can be blamed on the Directors/Owners of the club at that time, but many can be.  

Alan Sugar, although unpopular with an element of Spurs fans, turned the club around financially, made it a very stable business and brought some sanity into the "business" of football - he should be more widely recognised for the job he did for our club. ENIC, therefore, took over a financially secure club in 2000 and Levy spoke widely about "periods of stability" and "not buying success" - much in the way that Sugar had been preaching previously. Levy initially supported Graham and didn't want to change the Manager as this would lead to instability - yet within weeks Graham was gone and Hoddle was in. Although this action was clearly against Levy's mantra of "stability", I do not think there was one Spurs supporter who did not think that Hoddle was absolutely the right choice at that time - both from a popularity standpoint and from his talent as a coach. 

Hoddle did not work out, but the Directors gave him enough time and support. The shower of Season Ticket wallets that rained down on the last day of the season ( an empty gesture if ever there was one ! ) after our trouncing by Blackburn showed that the fans had turned against him and left ENIC with little choice but to terminate his contract. The club did not rush into a knee-jerk appointment, but had a Director of Football in David Pleat who could come in whilst a thorough search could be done to source the right candidate. Again, ENIC can not be blamed for Santini's departure for personal reasons ( does anyone actually know what happened here ? ) but had in Jol someone that could step in and do a job until we found a new man. As it turned out, Jol was good enough to take on the job permanently and Enic must be praised for this - Jol was someone who Alex Ferguson rated highly and wanted as his right hand man at Old Trafford before we secured him. 

ENIC certainly did not cover themselves in glory in the events that lead to Jol's departure. Their actions directly lead to the instability they had so long sought to avoid and a popular and successful Manager was forced to leave. But why were the owners of the club looking at another Manager ? This has never been fully explained, but there was a feeling at the time, and that remains, that Jol had lost some of his authority or even his drive. Certainly, many members of the squad were failing to build on their performance of the previous year and some were clearly overweight. It would appear that ENIC had justifiably lost faith in Jol and were acting in the best interests of the club to seek a replacement. They handled it badly and Levy made a lengthy apology to Spurs fans. 

Again, the communication/language issues that lead to the demise of Juande Ramos can not be fully blamed on Levy - this was a man who was widely respected throughout Europe, had won back to back UEFA Cups, played the type of football that fitted in with the Spurs style of play and who has subsequently go on to manage the biggest club in the world with a near perfect record with them. His initial results were promising, the squad got fitter and performed better, leading to the Carling Cup win in 2008. The performances after this triumph were poor and when it was clear he had lost the dressing room, the club had to act and moved quickly in appointing Redknapp. 

So not a great deal of stability here, but the turbulence has only once been down to Enic and even then, there are large mitigating circumstances. They have continually invested heavily into the club, have not hiked up ticket prices even though many of our rivals have and even though we have a much lower capacity than similar clubs. They have not often paid over the odds for "Carlos Kickaballs" and have stuck, in the main, to sourcing good, young prospects ( often English ) who will either stay and grow with Spurs or who will be sold at a profit to plough back into the club. They have maintained the financial stability of the club ( currently 14th richest club in Europe ) where others have not and who are now starting to feel the panic of "what if our oligarch leaves", "what if our two US owners don't get on and then sell at a loss", etc. 

With Redknapp's appointment we have an experienced, canny old campaigner. We still need a structure to be put in place so that he is suitably replaced if he fails, falls ill, leaves etc. Not sure if Bond is the man or Clive Allen, but it would be good to have clarity on this, maybe after the season finishes.  

If we can have a full five years or more of this much desired "stability", I have no doubt that we will be at the very least knocking on the door of the top four places and winning some silverware along the way. If we can get this far with the same owners and management, we continue to run our club properly and keep investing in good young players, then maybe its not too unrealistic to think we may be looking to win the Premier League and Champions League in 2015 and beyond especially if some of the top four can't continue their current purple patches of stability. Sounds a long way away doesn't it and football does have a habit of not looking that far forward. We will wait, look forward with optimism and trust that the current owners have what it takes to establish the stability we have all craved for so long. Please ,  . . . ..  no more seasons of transition !

paul barker

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