Fred Kavanagh looks at Tottenham's spending and the financial decisions made by Pochettino and the board. Is it sensible, or is our sustainable spending unsustainable in the long run?
The amount of money sloshing around English football continues to defy belief and it doesn’t appear to be slowing up anytime soon. Over half of the division’s clubs continue to flex their financial muscle outside of Europe during pre-season, attracting fans in their droves. Furthermore the next TV rights dick swinging competition is two years away with more potential rivals. Amazon, Google and Facebook just to name a few.
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What runs parallel to this economic onslaught is the patronising ruffle of the hair to anyone who doesn’t blow their budget picking up second rate squad players. Challenging this model though is Pochettino. For two consecutive years he has taken Tottenham close to the title with what you’d now call a ‘shoe string budget’ while his previous work at Southampton was just as respectable all things considered.
You could argue he is more tactically astute now than when he first arrived in England but what has always been a constant theme of his is the nurturing of young talent. It’s yet to be seen if he would continue with this ideology if he went to a club with looser purse strings, but what Espanyol, Southampton and Spurs do have in common is a strict budget. Despite this it isn’t what has forced his hand into giving the youth academies a chance. There’s method to his madness. Structure and future planning.
For two consecutive years he has taken Tottenham close to the title with what you’d now call a ‘shoe string budget’
The first benefit of this that springs to mind is ‘identity’. In an era where local fans are financially squeezed out of the game, it’s something that top level football clubs are deprived of so you can understand the jubilation in seeing “one of our own” make it in the big time. Throughout Pochettino’s brief managerial career he has produced these proud moments for his fans, scaling down the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’.
On the opening day we had Kyle Walker-Peters produce a formidable debut performance against Newcastle. The latest player to make the leap from academy to senior XI under Pochettino. This identity easily transcends onto the pitch when there are players scattered through the squad which have worked their whole footballing lives to arrive at this moment and for the club that has bought them up. It’s something that cannot be organically replicated with a ‘dream move’ to the Cities or Barcelonas of this world.
Further down the line though it provides a benchmark for the next generation of talent to aspire to. They see the hierarchy of their club actively seeking to promote from within, planning for it years in advance. Draw the comparison to any other business and you’d say it’s a healthy way to run things. Loyalty is built over time from a young age, they understand the ethos, and they become part of the fabric that makes up the club. So why isn’t this system more widespread in the Premier League?
The desire for instant success?
From a business point of view you can understand the need for it considering the huge outlays owners are putting forward. Naturally, a return is expected. And as fans we all want silverware, the big names and so on, but at what cost?
He can allow a player to grow up with the club from start to finish with a playing style that translates effortlessly throughout
Big names on big contracts that will be down tools as soon as the boats rocked? It isn’t sustainable. Someone will always have more money so what use is it to persuade a player to come purely on a financial basis?
Perhaps it isn’t sexy?
It certainly undermines the extreme financial position that the Premier League finds itself in. It’s not what it’s about. Gossip columns won’t be filled with the latest prospect from Enfield. The signing of his pro contract won’t make front page news, so why bother? It’s this that sets figures like Pochettino aside from the rest. He can allow a player to grow up with the club from start to finish with a playing style that translates effortlessly throughout.
With Tottenham mixing amongst the top teams in an age of £1bn summer sprees, there must come a time where Football must take more notice other than the arbitrary pat on the back for ‘giving it a go’.
It’s a model built to last. Not just for the owners, or the state of the game. But more importantly, us.