x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Premier League: procrastination of Levy has held Tottenham back

Levy's tactic of leaving negotiating to the last minute likely saved Spurs money, but the five points Spurs dropped in August would have made him a lot more cash this weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy. Toby Canham / Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy. Toby Canham / Getty Images

Whatever the outcome of tonight's match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur will go into the final day of the season capable of qualifying for the Uefa Champions League. For a team in managerial transition, that has to be seen as a success.

Critics of Andre Villas-Boas will argue Spurs finished fourth last year and are likely to only manage fifth this season, but that overlooks the fact his predecessor had a settled team that included Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart.

What should really rankle Spurs supporters is that their Portuguese coach could have exceeded expectations in his first season in charge had he been given backing from the club chairman.

Traditionally "the Tottenham way" referred to push-and-run, attacking football. Now it refers to Daniel Levy's push-and-pull tactics in the transfer market and waiting until the 11th hour of deadline day before checking to see if there is ink in the club fax machine.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all endured frustrating seasons, yet Villas-Boas found himself ill-equipped to capitalise after Levy procrastinated over strengthening the squad. Two players that the coach, 35, pinpointed as central to his plans - Porto's Joao Moutinho and Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao - failed to materialise for Tottenham.

Instead, two weeks into the season, Villas-Boas was delivered Clint Dempsey, by which time Spurs were one point behind Arsenal and eight points behind Chelsea, who had played an extra game.

Levy's tactic of leaving negotiating to the last minute likely saved Spurs money, but the five points Spurs dropped in August would have made him a lot more cash this weekend.

Regardless of Spurs' final league position, Villas-Boas's biggest challenge will be to convince Levy to move early in the market and secure the striker that they so desperately lack.

Ironically, Spurs' 2-1 win at Stoke City means they have now scored more goals on their travels than any other club in the Premier League, but at home they have struggled to break down defensive sides.

A playmaker will help solve that problem, but no club can parachute such a player in on August 31st and expect him to perform immediately.

Spurs are moving in the right direction, but they need their chairman to quicken the pace. If they do that, they have the manager in place to push.

And run.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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