SO what has Daniel Levy ever done for Tottenham?
Apart from building a world-class stadium and training ground, appointing a world-class manager, reaching a first European Cup final in the club’s history and constructing a squad which boasts a World Cup-winning skipper, a World Cup-winning centre-half, the captain of England, the centre-forward of Brazil..?
As Spurs’ faithful demand Levy and bankroller Joe Lewis ‘get out of their club’ and as Antonio Conte stages one of his ‘woe-is-me’ rants to increase the heat on his chairman, it is worth stating those recent achievements.
Because it is grossly unfair to depict Tottenham’s ENIC owners as some ruinous Mike Ashley-style regime.
Conte is a demanding workaholic and a multiple title-winning boss, he is also a professional agitator and an arch blame- deflector — a turbulent manager for any chairman to endure.
Levy knew that when he appointed him. Spurs were the sixth richest club in the Premier League when Conte took over and now they are the seventh.
Seven English clubs expect Champions League qualification and only four will succeed. Managing Spurs is not an easy gig but Conte also knew that when he accepted the job.
Meltdowns like that which the Italian staged after Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat by Aston Villa, will happen.
Conte performed a similar rant after defeat at Burnley last February and it had a galvanising effect on Tottenham’s season.
But for Conte to claim it was a “miracle” for him to guide Spurs into the Champions League and that he will need another miracle to do it again, is nonsense.
Guiding Arsenal to a seven-point lead at the top is bordering on miraculous, getting Spurs to fourth is a good effort, no more than that.
Conte — a man who claimed Roman Abramovich didn’t spend enough money at Chelsea — has been backed to the hilt by Tottenham’s standards.
Last summer represented Tottenham’s best transfer window in years as Levy ripped up his own playbook to spend £147.5million on proven class and experience.
Spurs recruited early and decisively on Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic and Clement Lenglet — this after last January’s excellent signings of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.
It is not fashionable to defend Levy — a remote man who cherishes his image as a ball-busting Bond villain.
But his reign has been a qualified success. Yes, only one League Cup in two decades. But also a club which consistently punches above their weight and have an elite infrastructure to safeguard their future.
During the early part of Levy’s reign, English football had a roped-off top four of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Manchester City wrecked that status quo with vast nation-state financing and Newcastle are now doing the same.
Yet Levy’s Spurs have achieved regular Champions League football without anything like such spending.
Conte was content at the start of the season and so, remarkably, was Harry Kane — just a year after demanding a move.
He was impressed by Conte’s appointment and heartened by a return to the Champions League, where Spurs will face AC Milan next.
Now, Kane is about to break the club’s all-time scoring record but must be wondering if he will ever win a major trophy.
Kane looked lost against Villa, dropping into midfield — where he lost possession in the build-up to the second goal.
Will he want out again next summer?
He has 18 months left on his contract and Conte has just six months on his.
Sure, Spurs could do with even more investment — Hugo Lloris is past his best, they are light at full-back and need more creativity in midfield.
But injuries to players as good as Richarlison, Kulusevski and Bentancur would hinder most teams.
This squad has not been starved of investment in the last two years — despite the cost of a magnificent new stadium, swiftly followed by the pandemic.
Sure, any football fan without regard for human rights wants an Arab nation state to own their club.
But until a Sheikh or an Emir turn up, Levy and Lewis are no bad alternative.
POTT’S ON HIS TODD
CHELSEA are reigning Club World Champions but are currently not even the leading team in the postcode of SW6, with Fulham above them in the Premier League table.
Graham Potter’s side were lucky to draw 1-1 at Nottingham Forest on Sunday and have one win in their last seven league matches.
There is a belief that, having made the call to poach Potter from Brighton, owner Todd Boehly will back his manager for the long haul.
We don’t know for sure. It’s just that we haven’t heard of many billionaire American venture capitalists who believe that patience is a virtue.
PREM DE LA CREME
ARSENAL have finished the past two seasons in eighth and fifth, Newcastle in 12th and 11th. Yet as they prepare for a face-off tonight, Arsenal might well be champions this season and Newcastle next.
There should no longer be any debate that the Premier League is the most competitive and unpredictable of all major leagues.
SAU ABOUT THAT?
NOW Cristiano Ronaldo has signed for the Saudis, with Lionel Messi already an ambassador for that vile regime, it seems nailed on that celebrity- obsessed Fifa will hand them the 2030 World Cup.
WHEN striker Marcus Rashford combined his job as a Manchester United star with the role of social-justice campaigner and unofficial Leader of the Opposition, we wondered how he ever managed to catch up on sleep.
Now we know.
When Erik ten Hag dropped his in-form forward but Rashford came off the bench to score the winner at Wolves and admitted his ‘crime’ of missing an alarm call and a team meeting, it felt as if Manchester United were a serious and mature football club.
And we haven’t said that in years.
TOO ERLI TO JUDGE
MANCHESTER CITY have added the greatest goal machine the Premier League have ever seen to a squad which won four of the past five titles, yet have somehow weakened.
Perhaps striker Erling Haaland, with 27 goals this term, has upset the overall ecosystem of a well-balanced team.
Or perhaps City allowed too many good players to leave in Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho.
Not many teams win the title after making a transfer-market profit the previous summer. City might still do so but it would be no mean feat from here.
SHOULD West Ham sack David Moyes?
Not unless they have an excellent manager with a proven Premier League track record — such as Mauricio Pochettino — willing to replace him.
But would Pochettino, or any elite boss, fancy a relegation scrap at a club whose best player, Declan Rice, wants out, with a horrible stadium and a chippy fanbase?
West Ham finished sixth then seventh and reached a Europa League semi-final with a very ‘Moyes-ish’ squad full of honest grafters, which was better than the sum of its parts.
They have added ‘star quality’ in Brazilian playmaker Lucas Paqueta and Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca, yet they have also lost something of what made them so good for the past two seasons.
Keep Moyes, get a couple of centre-halves fit and West Ham will be safe. Sack him and it becomes a lottery.
THE frizzy hair and the excellent defensive qualities, combined with an ability to do the utterly ridiculous at any moment.
After his extraordinary double own goal at Anfield, Leicester’s Wout Faes is ensuring the spirit of David Luiz lives on in the Premier League, Lord love him.