SN Blog 19: ‘Truth or are we just good at PR?’

Three years ago Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino identified a list of players, in the Premier League he would like Spurs to sign as he felt he could improve them as players and they in turn could add to the squad giving him more options.  He identified this list with Paul Mitchell, the clubs then head of recruitment who set about the task of looking at the players listed to see how / if they would fit in at the club.

Mitchell had built a reputation at Southampton of excellent recruitment and it was that work which prompted Pochettino to insist to Daniel Levy he be brought to Spurs.  Upon arriving he inherited a non existed scouting network.  Yes the club had scouts but their remit was to watch a player and confirm facts and stats.  Mitchell wanted to go beyond what he could simply look up on Opta and delve into players mentality.  He employed new and re-trained the existing Spurs scouting team to look beyond how many shots or passes a player made and look at how vocal they were on the pitch, did they look comfortable on the ball, are they using both fit or would they only favour one…. the criteria was vast and the idea was you’d learn more about a player in how they play that just basic stats.

Also, scouts would talk to existing coaches, players who might have played with (be it club or international level) and get an idea of mentality and how they mix with players.  Do they arrive late to training?  Do they question decisions?  Attitude…  Scouting was more than just stats but looking at player mentality.

Paul Mitchell

So with the background now in place (we all know Mitchell left) I can go back to the original point which is a central midfielder was identified that the manager (Poch) wanted and was clearly scouted and liked by the team.  He was young, English, Premier League experienced and an international.  He was a young player to watch at one time but he had stopped developing and the player himself was becoming frustrated.

I am of course talking about Evertonian midfielder Ross Barkley.  We identified him and pursued him through several windows however we were told ‘not for sale’ and then as his situation changed (contract running down) we simply were unwilling to pay the £45m or later £35m asking prices for the player.

That brings us to this transfer window, January 2018.  The player has only six months left on his contract and has told Everton he is leaving.  They reduce their asking price to £15m and therefore open the doors for Spurs to finally get their man but then suddenly on the day it became clear Ross would be moving the press suddenly started saying Tottenham had pulled out of the running.

As we all know now (Spoiler alert) Ross signed for Chelsea for £15m.  He cited how happy he was and all the usual things a player says when he signs for a new team BUT as a Spurs fan, knowing the club wanted him for so long its seems very odd that for that money we did not even rival our London neighbours for his signature.

Ross Barkley Chelsea

My initial thinking on this was wages.  As a Spurs fan I am all to accustomed to us not signing players as they want to be paid what the going rate is whereas Daniel Levy thinks people should earn minimum wage + a signed Jenas shirt as a bonus if they hit targets.  However it appears as more and more press was released that was not the case.  Daniel Levy and Spurs were willing to pay £15m, were willing to meet the players wage demands however the reason Spurs didnt rival Chelsea was down to Pochettino.

According to now all the press the Argentinian manager pulled the club out of the running as he no longer wanted us to sign the player, saying he has other targets he wants and Ross no longer ‘fits the profile’.

So here is the point to my somewhat rambled blog post this week.  Do we really think that Pochettino changed his mind?  or knowing the player wanted to join Chelsea did the club simply leak this to the press that we didn’t want him like a ditched ex suddenly saying “she wasn’t that hot anyway”.

I would like to think we as a club made the decision but having pursued the player for so long it makes no sense to simply stop wanting him, especially given the timing of our press releases being the day he signed for Chelsea.

Everyone can draw their own conclusions but for me it feels like good PR work to save face rather than Poch changing his mind.



Share the Post:

Related Posts