IAN LADYMAN: Levy may need to go small to achieve big at Tottenham

IAN LADYMAN: Daniel Levy may need to go small to achieve big at Tottenham as he bids to move on from Jose Mourinho’s short-termism… Graham Potter would be a forward-thinking gamble similar to Liverpool’s when they appointed Brendan Rodgers

  • Tottenham are continuing their pursuit of a successor to Jose Mourinho
  • Daniel Levy needs to sell the Tottenham job with its attractiveness in question
  • Managers currently see a level of expectation at the club that is not realistic 

Perhaps the main obstacle Daniel Levy faces when trying to recruit a new manager is that the Tottenham job is not as attractive as he thinks it is. The chairman might have to accept that before he makes the right appointment.

Managers are wary of the modern Tottenham. They see a magnificent stadium and training ground. They see status.

But they also see a level of expectation that exceeds what they can realistically be expected to deliver given the budgets for wages and transfers compared with other clubs at the top end of the Premier League.

Graham Potter would be a gamble but his forward-thinking approach could revive Tottenham

Daniel Levy is on the lookout for a new manager but has been hit by numerous rejections 

That, for example, is what is putting Brendan Rodgers off and when we think about what Tottenham might do now it’s worth going back to the day the Northern Irishman joined Liverpool from Swansea in 2012.

Back then, Rodgers was still in his 30s, a coach on the rise at Swansea. He was widely admired but was not a big name and there were some who doubted the appointment. A huge section of the Liverpool fanbase wanted Rafa Benitez back.

But Liverpool were in need of a manager to plot a clear way forward, a coach with a long-term view.

Having finished eighth, sixth and seventh in previous seasons and listing dreadfully under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool desperately needed a reboot. Rodgers gave them that and, in 2014, almost delivered the Premier League trophy, too.

This is what Tottenham need now. A reboot. Maybe even a season when further steps are taken backward on the field if it’s all part of a plan to move them forward again.

That was never going to be the Jose Mourinho idea and that’s fine. Mourinho is an open book when it comes to the short-termism of his management.

Jose Mourinho was sacked six days before Spurs took on Man City in the Carabao Cup final

But it very much feels like that is the way it needs to be now. Spurs are loaded with debt after building their stadium and the Covid pandemic has cut off most of the income streams designed to pay that back. They will not be spending big money on footballers any time soon.

So Tottenham need to find a strategic way back into the top four and for that they will need a strategic coach.

That is one of the reasons the club’s technical performance director Steve Hitchen has Graham Potter, the Brighton manager, on his list of recommendations. There are others at Tottenham who admire Potter, too, but Hitchen’s list is the one that goes upstairs for consideration by Levy.

Potter would be a gamble. Brighton, for all the attractiveness and method of their football, are 14th in the Premier League. The Tottenham job feels as though it might have come 18 months too early.

But Levy must be persuaded to see the merit in young, forward-thinking coaches.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is a primary target of Tottenham as they eye a new boss

He must learn to see the value in men like Potter and former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and, in order to do that, Levy has to be persuaded to recognise where his club is right now.

This is what Liverpool did nine years ago. Yes, they were still Liverpool — but they were also the eighth best team in the country, level on points with Fulham.

Levy is hubristic. He sees his club as being on an equal footing with Chelsea, Liverpool and the Manchester clubs. He loathes the very thought that other English clubs feel they can buy Harry Kane, for example.

But this is a time for realism in north London. Levy needs to think about where he wishes Tottenham to be in five years and how best to get there.

He might have to appoint small to eventually achieve big. The question: does he have the courage?

Last week’s mention of little Penrith from the Northern League prompted chairman Billy Williams to get in touch.

Like at many non-League clubs, life has not been easy up in Cumbria. But Penrith still manage to run an astonishing 32 teams serving men and women of all ages and the disabled. 

Scratch beneath the surface of our game and remarkable things are happening.

HENDERSON’S ABSENCE IS A HAMMER BLOW 

Gareth Southgate has said for a long time that he has five or six players in his team for the European Championship pretty much nailed on. As always, things have changed.

Raheem Sterling’s place is now under serious threat from Manchester City club-mate Phil Foden, for example, and Marcus Rashford’s form no longer guarantees him a place.

But it is the continued absence of injured Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson that is the greatest worry now.

Henderson might not play again this season and the Euros start in six weeks.

Jordan Henderson has not played for Liverpool since February and it’s a worry for England

Can he really be expected to be ready for game one against Croatia?

England have fresh talent in Henderson’s position but Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have 22 caps between them and absolutely no experience of tournament football. 

Henderson has played in two World Cups and two European Championships.

Behind Harry Kane, he is arguably England’s most important player.

Things get a lot harder without him this summer.

LUKAKU IS NOT CHELSEA’S ANSWER

Chelsea need a centre forward. There is no doubt about that. Whether Romelu Lukaku is the answer is less certain.

Lukaku’s best days in the Premier League came with Everton. The Belgian was almost unstoppable on his day. But that was four years ago.

At Manchester United, subsequently, he was less impressive. Those who worked with him described him as one-dimensional and erratic.

He’s still only 27, and his rebirth at Inter has been impressive but also surprising.

Even more of a shock would be a successful second coming in the Premier League. 

Romelu Lukaku is flying high for Inter Milan and is one of the best strikers in world football

At Chelsea, though, it was a different story and he failed to net in 12 Premier League games




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