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Sunday, 7 February 2016

All for one and one for all

Being a Spurs fan now is pleasing, we have at last found the right manager after years of hunting for someone capable of doing the job we required. Daniel Levy has been wrongly criticised for not accepting managers who couldn't take us to the next level with a long-term strategy, that didn't have a negative impact on the now. It was a tall order and many fell short.

For the last few years, I have been banging on about some of the strategies of success, some of the components we needed to put in place to have sustained success.

After Basel played us off the park at White Hart Lane in 2013, a game we somehow drew, I strated to look how we could make the jump to the next level, given our financial constraints. It was clear to me that we had to build a 'family' club, young players who grow together, play a set system and stay together through the bond they develop with the club.

Basel were not a top-tier team, they played in what used to be called a second-tier league, yet their system had us bamboozled. They were running rings around us. Why could the same thing not be achieved with better players is a better league? No reason as far as I could see.

This team ethic, rather than the individual ethic so prevalent usually in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to the way children are coached, was, for me, the way forward and so it has proven under Mauricio Pochettino.

This is a very similar philosophy to Pep Guardiola. During his spell at Barcelona Zlatan Ibrahimovich revealed that Guardiola even went as far as not allowing players to drive fancy or outlandish cars to training. Sucha team ethic philosophy can only work if you have senior players buy into it and lead by example. At Barcalona is was Puyol and Xavi and it seems that the more senior players at Tottenham, such as Lloris, Vertonghen, Walker and Dembele have all bought in to this.

Fans associate spending with success and it is true virtually all trophies have been won by clubs with money, but spending itself is not enough. If you listen to these fans they call for a big expenditure on an individual because they will make a difference, or so they peceive. This shows how the game is traditionally played, relying on individuals rather than a team and means you have to keep replacing the players you rely on as they deteriorate, you need a continual flow of money.

If you don't have that to compete with richer clubs then you have to look for an alternative. The team approach is just that. It might be an idea at this point to look at the transfer spend of clubs, remember we are the sixth richest club, some way behind, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, also that Newcastle United are the seventh richest club.

In the Premier League era (1992 onwards) Spurs have a net spend on transfers of £142.14 million, we have spent £658.70 million on players and received £516.56 million. (Source: Transfer League). That is an average of £5.92 per season which places us 8th in overall spend.

It is interesting to look at who has spent and see where those clubs are now, Manchester City top of course spending £30.53 million per season, Chelsea £27.03 million, Manchester United £17.81 million, Liverpool £14.76 million complete the top four. All of those clubs have a greater financial income that Tottenham. It is the next three that are interesting, they occupy the three relegation places, Aston Villa £7.59 million, Newcastle £7.59 million, Sunderland £6.69 million, which rather goes to show it is not what you spend, it is what you spend it on that matters.

Net Transfer Spend Table (since 1992)

  1. Manchester City £30.53 million
  2. Chelsea £27.03 million
  3. Manchester United £17.81 million
  4. Liverpool £14.76 million
  5. Aston Villa £7.59 million
  6. Newcastle £7.59 million
  7. Sunderland £6.69 million
  8. Tottenham Hotspur £5.92 million
  9. Arsenal £5.89 million
  10. WBA £3.61 million

Mauricio Pochettino has made a net profit of £6.3 million and improved Spurs as a club as well as a team. We now regularly play the youngest team in the Premier League which augers well for the future. The average age of the squad 24.7 is the lowest in the Premier League and the club are genuine title contenders, after yesterday we sit second in the table. 

It is an object lesson in long-term planning because the side is still improving, they aren't the finished article yet. The strategy has seen short-term benefits as well with an obvious improvement, in only one season during the Premier League period have we had more points at this stage.

One of the keys has been removing those with the wrong mentality and introducing players who are hungry to improve, obviously from a talented base. For anyone who knows anything about creating something the process is pretty clear and Pochettino is reported as having turned down signing many players once he determines they don't fit his profile of player. 

In top level sport mentality is everything. I have previously advocated that we strive to become the best in the world at mentally assessing a player before we buy them. It costs us nothing and would be able to steal us a march on the competition. It is an area where we can not only compete, we can lead the way. Clearly we have now improved that area of our purchasing strategy.

Regular readers will know this has been a bug bear of mine. I have been calling for mental assessments of potential signings to be undertaken by professional sports psychologists, so we didn't end up with players just here for the money, but has players who have totally bought into what we want to do and who want to become the best they can possibly be, rather than just pay lip service to it. 

Clearly we are undertaking greater character assessments now, Rob Mackenzie has mentioned it on Twitter and David Haytor of the Guardian has written of the players Pochettino has turned down in his article about fans trusting Pochettino, another regular theme of mine.

"Levy was very keen for him to sign a striker at the last moment in the summer – he said that he could get Charlie Austin, who was then at Queens Park Rangers, only for Pochettino to say “No” – and, once again in January, it was Levy who was eager to do the business. 
"Yes, Pochettino would have liked somebody else up front but not just anybody and the chemistry within the dressing-room that he has concocted remains of overriding importance. Nothing or nobody can come in from the outside to upset that."

The last transfer window showed the same approach, we will only buy if it is right for us, we are not here to do other teams a favour. Saido Berahino is clearly a player we want and he clearly wants to join us. The has been plenty of rubbish written in the national press that Pochettino isn't interested in him when quite clearly he is. The talk now of an agreed first option on him in the summer is evidence of that.

instability that is the hallmark of the majority of clubs in the Premier League.
There is a definite feeling that you can't rest on your laurels as a player at Tottenham now, you'll be on the bench if you do. It is a healthy club you feel is genuinely on the march in a forward direction after many a false dawn.
instability that is the hallmark of the majority of clubs in the Premier League.



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instability that is the hallmark of the majority of clubs in the Premier League.


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