Chairman giving squad right investment
12 August ~ Missing you already Gareth. Never before have Spurs dealt with a transfer of the magnitude of Gareth Bale's possible move to Real Madrid, but amid the media frenzy of this tortuous saga Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has responded with familiar inscrutability. He has said nothing. He never says anything. Levy's reputation as a hard-nosed deal-maker is justified and in this case he holds all the cards. Either Spurs receive a record transfer fee or one of the best players in Europe stays at White Hart Lane.
It's hard to believe but he might just turn that £85 million down. Levy has form, refusing Luka Modric a transfer two summers ago against manager Harry Redknapp's wishes. Bale's camp would also do well to remember what happened when Levy was previously confronted. Last summer Redknapp hired agent Paul Stretford to secure an improved contract: Levy promptly sacked him. At least one more season with Bale at Spurs dangles the enticing prospect of a realistic tilt at trophies and the top four without radically diminishing the Welshman's transfer value.
Levy has handled this well so far but perhaps of greater long-term significance is a radical change in transfer policy that has gone almost unnoticed. Last summer Levy cruelly refused to support his new manager André Villas-Boas in the window, preferring to see how he got on before committing substantial funds. This was in keeping with a long-standing cautious approach to the market.
The signing of established Spanish striker Roberto Soldado signifies a policy shift as well as an vote of confidence in a manager who has earned his popularity with the fans. Paying £26m for a 28-year-old is unprecedented at Spurs and probably also indicates a loosening of our restrictive salary structure. Paulinho and Nacer Chadli, two fine internationals with potential to develop, have also been added to our bulging collection of midfielders and there are more signings to join an already talented squad.
Spurs have been crying out for a leader up front for many years and Levy's reluctance to invest had long ago become indefensible. It's a decisive change that is considerably overdue and enthusiastically welcomed by supporters.
There's a sense that the money is available regardless of what happens with Bale. Levy may have already earmarked Real's fee, either for the new stadium to be built next to White Hart Lane or to improve the club's attractiveness for future investors. Spurs are owned by ENIC, an investment company who will cash in at some point.
Meanwhile there are more immediate concerns. Pre-season preparations have been severely disrupted by the comings and goings as well as injuries, meaning nothing remotely approaching a first team has taken the field in any of the friendlies so far. Expect a slow start, gathering momentum. I would keep Bale but suspect he will be sold. With or without him, Levy and Spurs are on the right track. Alan Fisher