Daniel Levy’s managerial appointments in his 20 years as chairman at Tottenham Hotspur have been a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, with an average of a new manager every two years. Harry Redknapp and Mauricio Pochettino have both been quantifiable successes, taking the club into the Champions League and becoming a top four team. But, the constant hiring and firing of managers raises questions about the man doing the hiring. Here, Last Word on Football looks at six of Levy’s hires.
Daniel Levy’s Managerial Appointments – A Merry Go Round With Mixed Results
Pochettino arrived at Spurs in 2014 with the task of making the club a top four side, but he would need to do that with a budget not even close to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. His first season looked like being a disappointment until he made mid-season changes and took the club to a fifth place finish, playing a physical and high pressing style of football.
The Argentine didn’t just secure a place in the top four for Spurs, but he led them to three top three finishes including the second place finish when they fell short behind eventual title winners Leicester City. With little money to invest in the team, what Pochettino achieved was nothing short of remarkable. Eventually, however, his finest hour would become his final hour.
Tottenham lost the 2019 Champions League final to Liverpool after which Pochettino made it clear that he needed backing from his chairman to keep Spurs’ progress moving. The backing never came, though, and, ultimately, he fell victim to his own success having had Spurs punching above their weight consistently. The fans were left wondering if, with backing, he could have taken the club to another level.
Tottenham’s last piece of silverware came in 2008 with the League Cup win over Chelsea, but manager Juande Ramos started the 2008/09 season in disastrous fashion and, in his year at the helm, won just 21 of 54 matches in all competitions.
With Tottenham rock bottom of the table, Levy fired Ramos and brought in Harry Redknapp, who would change the clubs’ fortunes. Champions League football finally arrived and culminated in nights that Spurs fans will always remember against AC Milan and Inter Milan as they reached the quarter-final stage.
Redknapp eventually fell to the trigger of Levy in the summer of 2012 after a new contract was not agreed along with links to the England job. It was an unpopular decision with fans but one that didn’t damage the club too much once Pochettino came along two years later.
Martin Jol was beloved by the Spurs fans and his success shows just how much of an effect he had on the north London club. Whilst two top five finishes would no longer be accepted, Jol achieved something that the club had failed to do in the previous 15 years.
Jol was so close to taking the club into the Champions League, but the infamous lasagne-gate match against West Ham United saw them miss out on the final day of the season. Jol’s legacy was confirmed, either way, however.
Jol was sacked whilst he was managing the team in a match against Getafe and the leaked news reached fans in the ground who reacted with derision. Levy, in some fairness, had chosen Ramos to take the club forward, a decision that brought a trophy, but, ultimately, stunted the progress made in the league under the popular Dutchman.
This was a sign of the ruthless nature of Levy and also one that revealed he would show little loyalty to his managers. It was a warning that those who were to come would get little time to get things right.
Whilst three out of 11 managerial appointments since 2001 have brought progress and close success, Levy has also made questionable appointments that have held the club back on the pitch and raises serious questions about his hiring process.
Possibly the most bizarre and failed appointment by Levy was that of Frenchman Jacques Santini. It was an appointment that showed the chairman to be scattergun with his hiring of managers.
Just 13 games was enough for Levy to end Santini’s disastrous reign, who had been announced before the 2004 European Championships, where he led France in a disappointing campaign. Before he set foot in the Spurs’ dugout, fans were already sceptical of his negative and defensive brand of football – which is the antithesis of Tottenham’s DNA that Levy was keen to mention in his 2020/21 end of season programme notes.
Ramos remains the only Spurs manager to win a trophy under Levy, but he also led the club to their worst Premier League start in history and lasted two months of the 2008/09 season before he was sacked. Two months later he was manager of Real Madrid and his appointment as Spurs boss was another questionable one by Levy.
Levy’s appointment of serial winner in Jose Mourinho was seen by many as the exposure of his lack of understanding of the fans and the club. The sacking of Pochettino came after a poor set of results at the start of the 2019/20 season, but Levy had failed to give the manager the backing he appealed for and Mourinho’s appointment felt like a desperate attempt to bring trophies to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Mourinho brought the best out of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, as they became the highest scoring and assisting partnership in Premier League history, but Mourinho’s style of football never sat well with fans, and, despite leading the club to the Carabao Cup final, he was sacked with Champions League qualification looking unlikely.
Whilst results had started to deteriorate, the decision to sack Mourinho just days before a cup final was a strange one, especially with Levy not having a replacement lined up. One thing that has been a feature of his hires is his tendency to have someone ready to take the reigns. But, this time, he descended the club into an embarrassing managerial search.
Nuno Espírito Santo Must Act Quick to Avoid ‘Failure’ Tag
Levy’s managerial appointments have brought progress under Jol, Redknapp and Pochettino but the most recent appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo has raised more questions about his ability to pick the right man for the job. Espirito Santo could have been appointed following the end of the 2020/21 season when he left Wolves. The fact he was appointed only after other avenues fell apart left Levy looking weak and desperate.
Whether Espirito Santo can turn things around at Spurs remains to be seen, but Levy’s constant hiring and firing rather than reasoned managerial appointments makes it appear that he is more inclined to hope for the best. And it is an approach that leaves Tottenham managers with little belief they will have time or the backing to make a difference, upon adding to Daniel Levy’s managerial appointments.
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