With the European Championship still ongoing, the spotlight has largely been taken off Tottenham Hotspur. The Harry Redknapp sacking, naturally, sent shockwaves through football, with proclaiming it to be the wrong decision, others the right. Either way, what has happened, has happened and it is time to move on and prepare for the new season.
A new season, you may exclaim, that starts in a little under a month. An away trip to Stevenage, Spurs’ first pre-season friendly of the season, on the 17th of July is quickly approaching and, as it currently stands, the North London side head into the encounter without a manager or first-team coaching staff.
Since Redknapp received the news from chairman Daniel Levy insisting his services were no longer required, the rumour mill has gone into over-drive regarding his successor. Andre Villas-Boas remains the stand-out candidate, but is quickly followed by the likes of Laurent Blanc, David Moyes and Ralf Rangnick in the favourites list.
The new manager is, undoubtedly, the priority for Levy with the new campaign fast approaching. Ideally, he will be instilled in time for the players return from the summer break in preparation for pre-season training. However, with that just over a week away, and no plans in place, publically anyway, to alter, it could be another slow start to the season unless the right actions are taken.
Patience is a virtue
Unsurprisingly, the man succeeding Redknapp is going to come under copious amounts of pressure from the off. Consecutive top five finishes under the veteran tactician is a lot to live up to and with his sacking unpopular with a number of fans and journalists up and down the country, it is a heavy burden to shoulder.
Even before his reign kicks off, he, whoever it may be, is being built up to fail. A poor pre-season or start to the new campaign will only see that pressure increase ten-fold, especially with the expectations of fans of Spurs regularly being high. As I mentioned, one bad result early on could see the heat cranked up highly underneath the new man at the helm.
However, this is the wrong way to go about it this time around. Take, for example, Villas-Boas at Chelsea. From the off, the demands were extremely high from both the fans and owner Roman Abramovich. At the time of his appointment, Villas-Boas was 33-years-old and, understandably, expectations were high having just undergone an unbeaten season with FC Porto, winning the treble in the process.
The €15m buy-out clause from the Blues only raised the hopes of the Chelsea fans, with Abramovich keen on seeing the club landing his personal holy grail – The Champions League. Furthermore, Villas-Boas was charged with ousting the ‘old guard’, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, at Stamford Bridge.
The latter was never going to be an easy task to undertake, especially with the trio often, publically, stating they didn’t agree with his methods or tactics. But, his failure to do so saw him undermined by both the senior members of the playing staff and, as a result, Abramovich as well. His reign ended nine months into his three-year contract as a result of the pressures thrust on top of him.
It was evident that he faced an uphill struggle from the off and, to an extent, the same could be said of Spurs. Next season, as many need to be reminded, is going to be a transitional one. However, it is important the fans don’t jump on the new mans back should the results not be perfect from the off. This summer is a monumental one in the history of Spurs and is pivotal in the club moving forward.
The last thing that will be needed is the pressure cooker cranked up to boiling point – that will have a detrimental effect on the club. Whoever is appointed, irregardless of whether they were my personal choice or your personal choice needs the support from the off because next season, following this summer, will be important to the future of the club.
Director of Football
The continental model that Levy favours is likely to be instilled for the new campaign. This will involve the Director of Football (DOF) working above the manager in order to assist in signings and the general day-to-day running of the club. Three of the four mentioned candidates in the third paragraph will be expected to work in this model, Moyes perhaps the one opting against it.
Rumours have been circulating that Tim Sherwood will be the man to make the step-up from the youth team to the position, something I, personally, am against. As Graham Hunter noted in his book, Barca: The making of the greatest team in the world, Sherwood’s philosophy is similar to that of the La Masia youth graduates – heavily focused on performance not results.
Many would rather see him carry on this role in the club and appoint an experienced head into the position. Louis van Gaal or Jupp Heynckes would be two stand-out candidates to oversee the change. Both have the star name pedigree to attract the quality needed to continue to push up the Premier League at Spurs.
However, the relationship between the new manager and DOF, should one come in, is pivotal. If there is a break-down in communications, much like Martin Jol and Damian Comolli prior to the appointment of Juande Ramos, then as many have bore witness, can have a negative effect on the club.
Both, however, come with a huge knowledge of the game and the winning mentality that Spurs, to an extent, lack. Either way, the decent working relationship is vital and, like the manager, patience. That ability is, I can’t stress enough, unbelievably important from the fans at this point in time. If the results don’t work at first, don’t panic, unless of Spurs have two points after eight games at which point Redknapp can return. Either way, it is imperative the fans, players and the board back the new man, irregardless of who comes in.