If I had to guess how the negotiations between Levy and Conte went, I’d imagine they went a little like this;
Levy: What kind of deal are you looking at to be the next manager here?
Conte: £20m a year plus ten of my backroom staff.
Levy: I’ll pay you £15m a year plus five of your backroom staff.
Conte: Okay, lets meet in the middle. £17.5m and eight of my backroom staff.
Levy: No, you take my deal or it’s off the table.
Conte: Okay then, cheerio.
There is no doubting that Levy is a very hard-nosed, shrewd businessman, who knows how to get the very, very best from a deal, but apart from the very odd bit of luck he has had in the past, it’s becoming painfully obvious that his way of dealing with things at the club when it comes to signing players and managers is having a very detrimental effect on the success on the pitch for Spurs.
We all want to get the best from a deal when we are negotiating. It’s only natural. How good does it feel when you offer then counter offer for something on eBay and your offer is accepted, or if you see a really good offer on something at the supermarket you would normally put in the basket anyway?
Unfortunately for us as Spurs fans and for Levy, football is a completely different beast and the “art of the deal” rules don’t work quite as well when looking for success and the prize money that comes with it.
Look at Liverpool. They paid way over the odds for van Dijk and Alisson when they identified they needed to fill the weak positions in their squad. It wasn’t just the astronomical fees they paid for them either, they paid their agents ridiculous sums of money too to secure their clients services. Two years after buying these two players they had a Premier League and Champions League trophy, with all the prize money and global attention that brought (think extra merchandise £££).
When it comes to success on the field, and all the riches success brings, you have to swallow your pride as a chairman and accept, for the sake of on-field success, that you’re not going to get the deal you always want. You’re going to have to pay over the odds.
If you are at a motorway service station and you are hungry you have two choices. You either pay the best part of a tenner for a sandwich, or you go hungry. If you pay for it, they have ripped you off but you’re not hungry anymore. If you don’t pay for it, you win when it comes to not being ripped off, but you’re still hungry so who ultimately wins?
Another analogy that I think works when it comes to how I feel about Levy is one with my Dad.
My Dad asked me a few years ago what I’d like for Christmas. I think it was the latest James Bond film on DVD. He phoned me later to say he couldn’t buy it for me because a couple of days previously it was on offer and now it’s back to full price and he couldn’t bring himself to pay full price.
He literally made me choose something else.
Granted, paying full price would have been a bit of a sickener, but the feeling of buying me something I really wanted surely would have trumped the feeling of being ripped off?
Unfortunately, my Dad and Levy seem to share the same mindset and every day Levy is at the club, with the mindset Levy has, is another day of having to accept mediocracy because Levy can’t walk away from a deal without feeling like he has got the upper hand, regardless of how much that upper-hand ultimately hampers the club.
Look, I completely understand that to Levy and ENIC we are merely an investment, so they are going to balance everything out when it comes to how much they grow their investment, but surely on-field success can grow their investment by speculating to accumulate.
After all It hasn’t seemed to do Liverpool much harm has it?