Maybe one day Daniel Levy will explain what truly happened at Tottenham Hotspur this week because without explanation, without context, it’s difficult to understand why Mauricio Pochettino was sacked and Jose Mourinho hired within the space of just a few hours over Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.
Of course, Spurs have suffered a dreadful start to the season, winning just three of their opening 12 league fixtures to make a fifth consecutive top-four finish unlikely, but few thought the solution at this stage would be to sack the man who led a revolution at the club over the past few years. And appoint a man deemed his antithesis.
A lot will be said and written over the coming days of the shock managerial switch that has happened at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Indeed, Mourinho does not appear to be the answer to Spurs’ recent problems. But, it’s worth considering where the events of this week could potentially leave Levy.
Feelings of animosity towards Levy are nothing new for Tottenham fans.
Before the Pochettino age, he was in fact a widely unpopular figure with the club’s fanbase. Many believed him to be holding back Spurs. They saw Levy as cheap, a scrimper in the transfer market with too much influence over first-team matters.
Attitudes towards Levy changed as the club changed under Pochettino.
Eulogies to the chief executives were even made as Spurs moved into their shimmering new stadium towards the end of last season. It was a symbol of Tottenham’s transition into becoming an elite club and, as many saw it, a vindication of Levy’s strategy over the past decade or so.
Levy’s old faults were seemingly a factor in Pochettino’s growing disgruntlement, with the Argentinean unhappy that more of a squad rebuild wasn’t carried out in the summer, and old sentiments towards the Spurs blazer could now be raked up by a fanbase bemused at the exit of their best manager in living memory.
What is perhaps most remarkable about Pochettino’s departure is that it was unnecessary.
Most managerial sackings follow a familiar pattern, with pressure from fans forcing the hand of the decision-makers to pull the trigger. Instead, Levy has gone against the overwhelming desire of the Spurs support by sacking Pochettino and in doing so has put a target on his back if his decision works out poorly.
His own position could potentially be on the line.
While Levy is undoubtedly the face of Spurs at the executive level, he is not the club’s owner. He is accountable to Tottenham’s shareholders and if they feel they are not getting their money’s worth for Levy’s salary, the highest handed to any executive in the Premier League, then he too will come under scrutiny from above.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 20, 2019
It will take a lot for Levy to attain vindication. Pochettino’s connection with the Spurs support wasn’t just as a product of the results he achieved. The Argentine established a deeper relationship with the club through his use of young players and overhaul of the club’s culture of inferiority.
Not since Arsene Wenger’s appointment at Arsenal in the late 1990s had a manager had such a fundamental impact on a top Premier League club. Now he’s gone, and Levy must hope Mourinho continues Spurs’ growth of the past few years or he will be blamed for stunting it.
Tottenham’s new stadium might stand as a monument of all Levy has done for the club, but it could all be compromised by the decision he made on Tuesday.
His fate is now intrinsically tied to that of Mourinho and given the Portuguese’s track record that isn’t exactly a comfortable place for any club chief, especially one accused of being stingy in the transfer market, to be.