Paddy Power

Is Daniel Levy an evil force holding Tottenham Hotspur back?

by Rob Dore | July 30, 2014

Tottenham Hotspur are not a bad team. For a large part of the last decade they’ve been a pretty good team. The problem is they desperately want to be a great team. Right now not only are they not the best team in the Premier League, they’re not even the second best team in their own city.

In the 52-year old Daniel Levy they have a chairman who has an unwavering confidence in his ability to change that. 13 years into his tenure at White Hart Lane and at the very least some doubts over his ability to do so should be raised.

Is it wrong to solely blame Levy? Possibly, there are a myriad of things which need to line-up at the right time for a club to be successful. That being said the fact that he looks like a movie villain and enjoys sacking managers strongly suggests he is an evil man with dark intentions.

Spurring Them On

His unknown nefarious plans aside there’s no doubt he has improved the club’s fortunes. In the nine years of Premier League football before Levy arrived Spurs finished no higher than 7th and had an average finishing position of 10th.

In the 13 years under his charge the average finishing position has been 7th. Over the last five seasons that average has improved to 5th, including two 4th place finishes. One of which secured the club’s first Champions League qualification which they made the most of by progressing all they way to the quarter-finals. Progress has been made but it hasn’t been rapid.


When you take a look at the finances it’s a wonder how Levy is still so secure in his job. Since the start of the 2001-2002 season up until last season Tottenham have spent £634 million on new players. Granted they’re still some way behind Man City (£831m) and Chelsea but they have an almost identical outlay to Liverpool (£634m) and Manchester United (£640m) and are £270m ahead of Arsenal (£371m).

This considerable splurging, regardless of the money recouped, has garnered one Champions League outing and a League Cup win. A competition which Birmingham, Swansea, Middlesbrough and Blackburn have all won under Levy’s watch…without shelling out over half a billion on new players.

Levy appears to have a reputation as an expert talent spotter, selling Gareth Bale for a £70m profit will feed in to that, but the four most expensive players he has brought were either failures or have yet to make a significant impact.

Spurs’ Top Four Signings

  • Erik Lamela (£26m): 17 games, 1 goal
  • Roberto Soldado (£26m): 36 games, 11 goals
  • Darren Bent (£22m): 79 games, 25 goals
  • David Bentley (£20m): 62 games, 9 goals

Then there are the managers. Daniel Levy has sacked three consecutive managers who were actually enjoying success. Tim Sherwood (59.09%) and Andre Villas-Boas (53.7%) were pushed out despite having the 2nd and 3rd highest league win %s in the club’s history. Only Frank Brettell, who managed the team in their inaugural season back in 1898-99, has a better record with 62.79%. Harry Redknapp played a large part in his own departure by courting the England job whilst still employed at White Hart Lane but Levy didn’t hesitate to sack a man with a 58.55% overall win rate. The 7th best in the club’s history.

Levy’s next choice, Mauricio Pochettino, arrives having enjoyed a successful season with Southampton. A successful season where his side had a 38.33% winning percentage across all competitions. An improvement on the 32.92% from his three seasons with Espanyol. The argument is that these were smaller clubs with fewer resources than Tottenham and once the Argentine applies his entertaining brand of football to the Spurs squad everything will finally click in to place at White Hart Lane. Just like they were going to do with Harry Redknapp….and Andre Villas-Boas.

If Pochettino fails, will Levy have any excuses left or will he have to start looking for a white cat and nuclear bunker?

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Your comments and views


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  1. Kosher Kid said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

    Levy has been working for Arsenal FC to hold Spurs back while AFC built a new ground and paid off their debt. Expect Levy to jog on just after he has overseen Spurs move out of WHL into the Olympic Stadium at Stratford as rent paying tenants.

    You know it’s the truth!

  2. Jim said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

    Get rid of the prat!!

  3. Brillodinho said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

    A few fair points about money spent etc but these have all been made before.

    Levy is a bit of a ruthless Bastard when it comes to hiring and firing managers but, as a spurs fan, i’d probably have sacked all the managers when he did. Not one (including harry) has been right to take us to the next step.

    The point with Levy is that, before he was in charge we were nowhere, finishing in neither the bottom nor top 6 for years which was just dull…He hasn’t held us back, nor is he evil. I’m grateful for him.

    As for the rubbish about him having a good eye for talent – he’s the deal maker not the talent spotter, and a good one at that

  4. Sid said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    I suppose the best way to answer this is to take a look at Tottenham when Levy took over and see where they are now, Sugar was clueless and was less than an apprentice whereas Levy is the master, they are 10 times the team now, world class training facility, a World class stadium just about to be built and knocking on the door of Champions league every year, the downfall for Spurs is the gutter media who do their utmost to drag Tottenham down at every available opportunity.

  5. Ray said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

    What’s the relevance of this article?

  6. elflaco said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

    I imagine Pochettino will be given more leeway than his predecessors. He’s in that very in vogue bracket of football managers at the moment. The Premier League seems particularly besotted with them.
    I’m pretty sure there is a (subconscious?) belief among some people that they would rather underachieve with tippy tappy football than overachieve with a more physical or regimented style thanks to the brain-washing that’s happened in the last few seasons.

  7. Tony Borg said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

    I wouldn’t go as far as calling Daniel Levy evil but yes I do think he is holding Spurs back. I say this because it is plain to see that we are in desperate need of a class centre back and a class striker, we are just over two weeks away from the start of the new season and all of the top teams have done the best part of their business, as always Daniel Levy leaves everything to the last minute trying to save a couple of quid here and there with all the best targets being snapped up already. Pull your finger out Mr Levy and sign us Ron Vlaar & Wilfried Bony before they get snapped up too, anyone else should be a bonus.

  8. Anonymous said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

    Lies, damn lies and statistics. Here’s another one – check out our league finishes for the 10 years prior to Enic and Mr Levy. Have a look at some of the cheap players that we’ve sold for massive profits (inc. Bale, Modric, Berbatov). Then compaire some of the other “top” teams flops (Torres, Veron, Jovetic, dare I say Otzil). I think Mr Levy is doing a fine job at my club – long may it continue.

  9. Anonymous said on July 30, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

    he is much better than Alan sugar only question I have is why let go of Andre Villas-Boas

  10. afra said on July 30, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

    He is a crap arrogant rediculous in transfer market supported by poor Tottenham fans chairman.

  11. spurs o olic said on July 30, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

    Kak man .. let’s not 4 get about sugar levy has transformed the club .. agreed he has made same nasty decisions .. Redknapp for one .. De boer 2 ..but another than that he is been on the money , no pun intended avb had a vision that levy was not able to buy into and his choices thereafter was a disaster ade to train with the youth team … wff .. Tim was none the better clearly he had to prove some thing with his youth set up … They both as sad as it may be had it coming …

    here is our next bale if any ting for the price tag he would be the buy off the season ….. gaaaa gaaaa gaaaa greennnnn

  12. Lewis said on July 30, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

    There are lies, damn lies and statistics! To ignore the outgoing transfers fees raised would be to ignore the outgoing players. Everytime we have sold a player we have had to rebuild and so the money spent isn’t nearly as important as the player that left because that player/players then have to settle often to new climates and languages. We were building teams around carrick, berbatov, Modric, bale etc. Player power rules and you can’t keep an unhappy player so there is no choice but to sell. Ask Liverpool who “kept” their best player last season, difference between this season and last is the price was right and it was Barcelona not Arsenal. As regards the flops, every transfer is a risk. Just ask Fergie about Veron and Bebe to name a couple. The teams above us aside from Arsenal who have gone from untouchables to hanging on to fourth havn’t had to sell their best players because they have greater stature in the game and higher revenues. What are Toure, Gerrard, Rooney earning a week? I am very pleased with our progression and look forward yo a new stadium to help us compete more evenly on those financial levels alongside the verb clever tapping into the American market by Daniel? Whats your thoughts?

  13. Hairy Roadmap said on July 30, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    So what chairmen in the history of the premier league has done a better job than Levy?

  14. Anonymous said on July 30, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

    why is money recouped regardless? Without out it we wouldn’t have spent a penny! It’s all that money from selling players that has allowed us to spend…and make a nice little profit as well. The other teams in your table above occupy the top5 net spenders over the last 5 years….we’re 19th! We only invested when relegation threatened since then managers have had to sell to buy…and have paid for a lack of transfer budget with their jobs…next scapegoat’s neck on the block will be Baldini’s…

  15. Gargol said on July 30, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

    I’m not sure about Levi, but AVB for sure. If you can’t destroy a kingdom from outside do it from the inside. Welcome to the gazprom family

  16. Anonymous said on July 30, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

    Terrible argument. To just look at spending not selling we also have very reasonable wage structure. Only Everton could claim to have a better consistency on the top half of the table with such a reasonable wage structure. We dont have the pull to keep our bales and modrics. Yes levy has made mistakes but dont forget only a few seasons back Aston Villa were I rivals. Look where they are now

  17. SpurredoninDublin said on July 30, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

    You figures for Bent and Bentley are both incorrect and should be in Euro’s and not Sterling.

    The CL has to be the goal that Spurs aim for, and a case can be made that they have had horrendous luck in just missing qualification by one point on two occasions, which can be attributed to bad luck, and on another occasion, through the vagaries of a Penalty shootout. In addition to this, unlike the clubs you have compared them to, they have not had the benefit of a Sugar Daddy, or a 60k+ seater stadium, and have had to work within the confines of a wage structure, while seeing players like Carrick, Berbatov, Keane, Modric and Bale have their heads turned by the mighty chequebooks of Real, Manure and Liverpool.

    Looking at it as a level playing field, this is the first time in four years that Liverpool have headed Spurs, and until City got their oil money, as well as a free world class stadium, they persistently finished second best to Spurs most seasons.

    Most neutrals will tell you, that if they had a choice as to who they would pick for chairman, Levy would be their choice. That might have something to do with the fact that even though they have the 12th largest ground, challenging for the CL, often right up to the last day of the season, is a sure sign that they are punching well above their weight.

  18. Bazza said on July 30, 2014 @ 9:38 pm

    Are you serious?
    What other director has raised the clubs AVERAGE league position 5 places without getting the club in to serious debt?
    How can you compare purchase figures without considering sales? The whole point being that Spurs have stayed well within budget and financed new training facilities ( the best in the country, if not Europe) as well as done most of the preparation work for a new stadium, this has largely been financed by player trading.
    What about wages? Arsenal spend £50 million or so per year more on wages than Spurs and others even more. Then they loose players for little or no fee? What’s that about? Are you saying that a club spending over £100 million a year more just to stay 1 place ahead of spurs is being run better?

    Levy is running the 6th richest club in the UK. A club that has reacently proven it can hold its head high in the champions league given the chance, but clearly if 5 other clubs are chucking money they haven’t got into the team then it’s going to be difficult to break into a CL qualifying spot. Spurs were fallen on very hard times when the champions league money started rolling in and are at least a £billion. Behind other clubs that happened to be at the top at the right time. You should be asking, how the hell has he managed to make up ground on these very rich clubs while spending so much less? The answer is exceptional management and a deliberate long term plan

    I think he’s he’s doing a brilliant job. And if he wants a white cat I’d be happy to buy him one.

  19. Bazza said on July 30, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

    Oh yeah, bent & Bentley £42M? Your slightly miles out. I know they didn’t work out to well but I think your’l find bents money was largely recovered and Bentley has had a lot of daemons that we would all do well to allow to rest.

  20. John said on July 30, 2014 @ 11:08 pm

    Levy has never done what the others did. He dithers and misers despite what this article says. All he needed to do was get a big name manager and give him the money. But no. Levy knows best. Which players to buy and to put an overseer above his manager. Levy has taken us as far as he can. It’s time to tell Baldini to scout for Pochettino. It’s time Levy left the DOF to do his job. Levy needs to go back into accounts. Apparently Joe Lewis is coming to a similar conclusion. Levy is not evil but each time we are ready for a title tilt or champs league qualification he chokes! Things need to change.

  21. Yid for life said on July 31, 2014 @ 1:18 am

    Ive been saying this for years. Mr poker face is actually a long term hindrance and makes snap decisions all the time. …….& he was an Arsenal fan as a kid, put in the job by his relative, Mr Lewis.

  22. Anonymous said on July 31, 2014 @ 9:35 am

    Supposedly he’s a savage in the sack

  23. Rob Dore said on July 31, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

    I’m not sure how I can be “slightly miles out” but we won’t get into that kind of back-and-forth bitch-fest. Transfer figures are difficult to verify. If you have an infallible source please let me know and I’ll make the necessary changes. The point is not whether he recovered the money, which he actually didn’t with the two players mentioned, but that the biggest signings, money-wise, made under Levy haven’t worked out (at least not yet as far as Soldado and Lamela are concerned). A lot of talent has come in through the doors at White Hart Lane but they either fail to make the desired impact or are sold on for a profit. This may balance the books but it curtails progress on the pitch. As does the frequent change in management. If you’re happy with this then you’re happy with being a second-tier team. As long as you’re happy I guess.
    As for Bentley’s demons, he has recently come out and blamed Spurs for killing his love of football. Whether he’s right to do so or not it sure supports the ‘Levy is an evil influence’ argument….which I don’t think anyone else is making.

  24. Rob Dore said on July 31, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

    If you can send me on a verifiable source on the transfer fees please do. There’s no point just saying it’s wrong without helping to correct it.

    They’re valid arguments but while Levy may have balanced the books with some profitable sales, a significant amount of talent has come through the doors at White Hart Lane during his tenure with very little to show for it. Is one Champions League appearance and one League Cup really enough? You’re clearly a Spurs fan so maybe it is. Maybe your ambitions stretch no further than that.

    Signing off which the sentiment that they are “punching above their weight” says it all.

    PS….and you’re claim that most neutrals would want Levy as their chairman is weakly anecdotal at best and aggressively deluded at worst.

  25. spartanhotspur said on July 31, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

    Just who do you suggest as a replacement Rob? its hard enough to get a manager that knows his onions, better the devil u know… Not convinced about Pochettino, looks like another throw of the dice,, if it aint going well after a dozen games, hes a goner 4sure, double that with the Hod as next manager and pay for crimbo!!!

  26. SpurredoninDublin said on August 2, 2014 @ 1:17 am

    @Rob Dore 4.45.

    I think you comment is most ungracious and smacks of the child trying to avoid exposure. I you want to talk about verifiable sources, then I have to admit that there are none, but apart from yourself, I have yet to see anybody quote either player above £16.5 mill. The consensus when you look at sites that are considered to be “informed” are that Bentley was £15 mill and Bent £16.5 mill. (Source: Now where is your source saying £20 mill and £22 mill respectively.

    As for Levy’s popularity amongst other fans, that is something I often hear from them, because they understand that a team with the 12th largest ground in the country, should not be consistently finishing ahead of teams like Newcastle, Sunderland, Manchester City (before they got a sugar daddy) Liverpool (4 out of the last five years) and Everton (most of the last ten years). So because other fans tell me tat if they could choose the ir chairman, they would choose Levy, I am “agressively deluded”? How did you work that out then? The only delusions I have seen here, is somebody is deluded into thinking they know what they are talking aboot.

    As to your tacky response to my comment about “punching above their weight”, the comparable demographic is West Ham who are just a few miles “along the road” and have a ground that has 700 fewer seats that WHL in the last 10 seasons they have only finished ahead of us once, not qualified for Europe at all in that time, and even been relegated. In all fairness to West Ham, based on their ground size, I don’t expect them to be challenging for the CL places most seasons, and the same applies to Spurs. But the fact that Spurs do so, proves my point.

    And in case you have failed to grasp that point, it is that with the resources available to Spurs, it is pretty close to miraculous that we are consistently doing so much better than many competitors with much bigger followings, and the fact that this has happened during Levy’s tenure after years of mid-table mediocrity under Sugar and Scholar might just be coincidence, and might well have something to do with the way that he keeps such a relatively small club solvent.

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