Spurs have dispensed with the man once thought Europe’s hottest guru manager (don’t believe in guru managers). Villas Boas was a failure as manager but he was a mere symptom of their problems. Splurging circa £100m on vagrant misfits should be enough to disguise the fact that you don’t have a sustainable strategy. For a while. But primary responsibility lies with whoever authorised the budget in the first place.
Selling that chap with the funny hair to Madrid went some way towards offsetting the cost of this summer’s acquisitions, but Spurs wage bill for the new arrivals will dwarf the money paid to those who departed. This is the more serious problem.
They are left with players on long and expensive contracts who look like they auditioning for a West End show. Forget about Spurs recouping their ‘investment’, the chances of players attracting contract offers which match the cash the Cockerel coughs up each month is zero.
The Bale money is gone and those new contracts written in the summer will inhibit the club for years. What next: downsizing, or another visit to the roulette table, gambling with even bigger stakes next time?
Here’s what happens when you sell your star player: everyone and their grannie wants the money spent. “The [Insert club name] board need to show their ambition”. This comes from fans, the media, the manager, scouts, family members and every taxi driver in a 30 mile radius. And why wouldn’t they spend an apparent windfall, that’s what the money’s there for, after all.
It’s at this point clubs lose all self-awareness. Reinforced by the success which led to the development and profitable sale of a prime asset in the first place, the organisation’s view of its reach, not to mention competency, is obliterated. “We have spent money well in the past, look, here is the evidence, therefore we can spend this even larger amount of money well now”.
With this belief now orthodoxy, every pore in the organisation secretes an intoxicating scent attracting the club to market. Unfortunately, the rewards for spending big are heady and instant, though they seldom last as long as the hangover.
Directors are celebrated, ticket and merchandise sales get a short-term kick. The manager and coaches get to play with more expensive toys; quite literally, everyone is happy. This is narco-football, only accommodated by ever-bigger hits. For some, this narco-football offers proof that management share wider stakeholder aspirations. I contend otherwise.
The heresy to this orthodoxy reads differently:
Clubs should mistrust their successes, they are evidentially more random than most are prepared to accept.
Windfall transfer income is more likely to draw clubs away from the part of the market they are most competent in. It is an acknowledged fact that sellers and agents literally see them coming.
Don’t go searching for the instant hit, you’re more likely to miss. If necessary, take some short-term pain while using resources to enhance recruitment infrastructure.
Heresy in any area of life is seldom met with quiet contemplation. Narco-football heresy is more likely to be met with a rationalisation that the heretics don’t share orthodoxy’s core values – sustainable success of the football club – no matter how many references to “sustainable success of the football club” they make. It’s Salem-esque.
The orthodox-heretic analogy is evident where three or more are gathered in any club’s name. The first club who manage to unite everyone behind the heretic’s charter will clean up/reach nirvana/find salvation/achieve ultimate enlightenment/do lunch with Tom Cruise.
CQteN St Patrick’s Day Dinner is now FULLY BOOKED. Many thanks for everyone who responded so quickly. We are well on the way to raising the money to build a kitchen and shelter at the Kholoni Primary School in Malawi (for details check here).
Just a few posting days left to order your CQN Annual before Christmas, £5 from every sale goes to the Malawi appeal:
Sean Fallon: Celtic’s Iron Man:[calameo code=000390171ece27dd9e54e lang=en page=98 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]