Manchester United : Danny Rose the rebel causes thorny problem for Daniel Levy and Spurs
They tell a story at
As football administrators go, it is certainly difficult to think of anybody else with Levy’s reputation for driving the people with whom he is negotiating to the point of spontaneous combustion. Ferguson, to put it into context, regarded Modric as one of the finest passers in the business and, five years on, probably still thinks the same. Yet he and Gill preferred to watch the player join
Not that it is necessarily such a bad thing, bearing in mind it was not so long ago Levy was the subject of acclaim for the way he had managed to combine a healthy balance sheet with a team that could potentially win the league.
His record is of a man who gets a lot more right than wrong. He doesn’t bend for anyone and, if there is one thing we should know about him by now, it is that he won’t have liked one of his own players trying to back him into a corner over the last few days.
Rose opted for the scatter-gun approach and he shouldn’t be too surprised that it has landed him in trouble with his employers. Yes, it made a welcome change to read a player interview where a press officer hadn’t scribbled a red line through all the interesting points. From the club’s point of view, however, it has caused considerable disruption on the eve of the new season and the timing was questionable, to say the least. For that alone, Rose can hardly be taken aback that it has cost him two weeks’ wages as a club fine.
At the same time, what he told the Sun did contain a number of home truths and Levy has badly misjudged the situation if he did not envisage a scenario where his players, after successive third- and second-placed finishes, would eventually start to ask these kind of awkward questions.
Put together a league table of how much the current top-division clubs have spent on transfers over the last five years and you may be surprised to find Tottenham actually occupy bottom spot. Spurs spent £253.9m on new signings in that period and banked £321.4m for players sold, making them one of only three clubs (with
Looking at the top of that table, compare Spurs’ figure with Manchester City’s average net spend of £110m over those five years, followed by
It won’t put their minds at rest, either, that they are the only club in England’s top division to begin the season without having made a single transfer. Most clubs prefer to get their business done as quickly as possible. Yet Levy seems to get a strange kick from knowing the price will change if he holds his nerve and waits and waits. Hence he does so much late business. Jon Smith’s book, The Deal, telling the story of his life as a football agent, sums it up rather neatly. “I can remember Daniel phoning at
It certainly tells you a lot about Levy’s thinking that in the past 10 summers Spurs have signed 44 first-team players and 20 of those deals have been completed after the season has started. Seventeen have arrived on deadline day or in the preceding 48 hours and it looks as if this will be the strategy for
Yet the bigger issue, undoubtedly, is that the players have just seen
What does all this tell us? First of all, what we should already have known: that Spurs have been dramatically punching above their weight under Mauricio Pochettino’s guidance. The Argentinian has shown it is possible to take on the super-rich but Levy surely needs to have a long, hard think about significantly increasing the club’s wage bill unless he wants to risk a more widespread mutiny. Something has to give because whatever you think of the players’ motives – whether you agree with their complaints or think it is greed, envy, call it what you will – it is just a fact of life at Spurs that Pochettino’s men are earning a fraction of what they could make elsewhere. Levy should have seen this coming and, now it has finally caught up with him, it would be another mistake to assume this is an issue involving only one player.
Rose is simply the one who dared to put his head above the parapet but Levy is so intransigent in his financial dealings nobody should be surprised if he chooses to do nothing about it. This really is the key point. Do Spurs accept they have been short-changing their players and try to put it right? And can they afford not to, bearing in mind the disaffection that would inevitably create behind the scenes?
All that can really be said for certain is that it is a lousy way to begin the club’s first season away from
Their first game is at
This is shaping up to be a difficult season for the
Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to give the relevant people the benefit of the doubt and I note the spin doctors have been busy weaving their elaborate patterns again now it has emerged that
Aluko’s grievance cited alleged bullying and harassment and it would be perfectly reasonable, one might assume, to think of this payment as hush money. Not so, according to the FA. It was merely to “avoid disruption” before the championships, not a ploy to “prevent disclosure”. That still sounds suspiciously like hush money to me. And, besides, since when has it been normal practice for the FA to offer cash incentives to make sure disaffected players keep schtum ahead of big games?
Aluko’s case prompted an internal review and a supposedly independent inquiry – if you want to believe an inquiry commissioned by the FA can accurately be described as independent– and neither upheld her complaints, ruling there was no case for disciplinary action.
Yet a thoroughly unsatisfactory tale takes another twist with the added information that the FA also awarded Aluko a £20,000 contract despite her saying she would not play “under his [Sampson’s] management”.
Financially, the people running the sport have been very keen to keep her quiet. The whole thing feels very fishy. And, if there is nothing to hide, what is stopping the FA from coming clean and removing this gagging order now the tournament is done and dusted?
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