The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given the media’s fixation on what his next move will be during the ongoing Spurs meltdown, but Daniel Levy is merely a director and minority shareholder, and not the owner, of English National Investment Company plc, the holding company that controls 82% of Tottenham Hotspur. ENIC is in turn controlled by Tavistock Group, which is the private investment group of the billionaire Joe Lewis, who is, if such a person exists, the actual owner of Tottenham Hotspur.
Joe Lewis spent much of last year laying out enormous cash payments for huge chunks of Bear Stearns, spending somewhere in the vicinity of a billion dollars for a 10% stake in the doomed investment bank just a few months before its collapse. As a result, he has lost what much be a terrifying fraction of his net worth in the last half-year, and probably has very little time to worry about any part of Tottenham Hotspur except its value in a potential sale.
However, if it is true that the questions surrounding the job of Spurs manager Juande Ramos are going to grow louder following Tottenham’s astonishing collapse at Stoke City today—a 2-1 loss in which they were shown two straight red cards and saw Corluka taken away in an ambulance—then it is worth asking whether, if Ramos was such a bad choice to manage Spurs, any part of the responsibility for that choice might reside with the man who made it. The media are acting as though Levy is the final judge and executioner for everything related to Tottenham, but Levy is effectively an employee who made the decision to use the power delegated to him to bring Ramos to the club. And after the publicly humiliating way in which he handled the firing of Martin Jol (whose Hamburg team, incidentally, are now second in the Bundesliga), you would think a great part of his professional reputation would now be bound up in Ramos’s success or failure.
I’m not saying Ramos should be fired, or Levy either. I don’t expect Tottenham to be relegated this year, and it’s not surprising that a team with as much off-season turnover as Spurs would struggle during the early part of the season. (It is surprising to see them struggle this much.) But this is a case where the simplifying habit of assigning all credit and blame to the manager simply doesn’t make sense. If you’re going to talk about whether Levy should replace Juande Ramos, you have to talk about whether Joe Lewis should replace Daniel Levy. He put this puzzle together, and has been shielded from criticism by the complexity of Tottenham’s corporate structure for too long.
by Brian Phillips · October 19, 2008