Hey there. In the first part of this series, entitled ‘Oh marching in to the future with Tottenham Hotspurs: a new save, a new team ethic’ I wrote about the philosophy I would adhere to to develop a successful and sustainable culture at my football club. The three words I used were local, loyalty and teamwork. I wanted players in the first team squad who came from as close to the roots of the club as possible, preferably Londoners, English or British. I have nothing against other nationalities but I enjoy the sense of pride I get from producing great players for the England side and promoting local talent.
Let me explain to you how my second season went at the Tottenham Stadium, if I managed to implement my philosophy, and how the future looks for the club and I.
In terms of silverware at Spurs success came surprisingly quickly but I was determined. We won the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup in my second season in charge. I thought it would take longer, and it was a close call, especially as we overachieved in the first season, coming fifth after languishing in the bottom quarter of the table for a long stretch before I became manager.
Our star players did well and I think that made the difference. We still have plenty of weak areas to work on though, none more so than our central defenders.
Admittedly I relied on a group of excellent European players in the first team this season, including a loanee from Paris Saint Germain, Florent Bastide, whose value boomed from less than £10m to £27.5m during his 18 (approx) months at the club. Amazingly, after a great second season with us, PSG have agreed to let him have another season here as long as we pay them £250k per month and 50% of his £38,500 per week wages. His contract with the oil-rich Parisiens runs out at the end of the coming season so I might end up acquiring one of the best players in the game for free!
We are in May now though just after the season ended and there are 13 English boys in my first team squad, four Scots and an Irish lad among four Spaniards, three Portuguese, two French, two Dutch, two Italians, etc. My regular goalkeeper and right wing back are English and England internationals, as are two rotation players. Not a bad effort after only one summer transfer window. The other nine Englishmen are not ready for first team football or have not made an impact. Sometimes personality gets in the way of a player succeeding!
When the players realised we were not going to be competing in the Champions League in 2035/36 a number of my better and more experienced players told me they felt they had to move on. Although letting them go meant weakening the side in the short-term I went ahead with it and reduced out wage budget by around £1m in the process. I was happy to see the back of anyone who was not committed to our cause and introduce fresh blood in to the fore. We also made a lot of money in player sales which helped soften the blow.
I sold a want-away striker, Carl Sargeant, to Juventus when I decided I could not reject an offer worth £34.5m plus add-ons. Although he played brilliantly in the five months of the season I took charge of he only scored eight goals in Serie A in the season after his move and he is now 29.
Honestly, I have not focused on the specific attribute of ‘teamwork’ yet although it is part of our unspoken code. This is something I will certainly make a concerted effort to look for in potential summer signings in the months before the next Premier League season begins, however, there are a number of qualities I am looking for in new signings and will outline them in a later article.
As you can see I spent fractionally more buying players than I did selling, a difference of around £1.5m. Considering I managed to offload two aging players for an average of £25m and let several go on free transfers as they were on mammoth wages, I feel I put the squad and club in a much healthier position. The question was, could we achieve on the pitch after losing vast experience and becoming the joint youngest squad in the Premier League?
Looking at the first nine ‘ins’ six are British, four English and two Scottish. I believe only one, goalkeeper, Stuart O’Malley, was over 23.
I then had a bit of a panic and felt there was no point leaving money in the bank so I tried to bring more quality and experience to the side and had to look abroad.
It is a problem finding players who are happy to spend most games on the bench as back-up. The interestingly-name Bogoljub Nikitovic was another who desperately desired regular first team football and we needed some cash flow urgently so I took a £3m loss and sold him.
Shane Skinner – I was so excited to get this guy. He had impressive-looking technical attributes, was young and ENGLISH. And I managed to get him on a free from Man City. He looked a ‘dead cert’ but I could not work out his best position and he did not impress. He is still at the club though, in the U21s so he could have a renaissance.
If you follow me on Twitter you might have heard of Alberto Alessandri. I signed him from my previous club, Roma, for £6.25m, and he was named the European Golden Boy in his first season in England. He had done well as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder and as a striker and he has been called up at 21-years-old for Italy’s 2036 European Championships squad.
He made a remarkable TWENTY FOUR assists in 43 appearances, scoring 11 goals in the 2035/36 season and was named in the Barcays Team of the Season along with teammates, Florent Bastide and Julien Mercier (the league’s top goalscorer).
This is him at 18 at Roma. It is so rewarding when you follow and have a positive impact on a player’s career even if it is just a virtual game! For me this is what Football Manager is all about and you can see how the player has improved over 3-4 years with some nurturing and game time *blogger wipes a tear from his eye*.
I mentioned him before but Stuart O’Malley has done really well in his first season too, becoming England’s go-to goalkeeper, and playing in SIXTY ONE games for us. I do not think I have had a goalkeeper who has played so many games without injury before. He has an average rating of 7.01, nothing spectacular but it will do for now. He is 25 and will improve yet further.
I am very excited about another England international I mentioned. Michael Williamson, a Sunderland-born right wing back signed from Dundee United for £3.5m, is now worth £11.5m and he is such a good player. He can attack and defend, popping up with the odd goal if I encourage overlapping.
David Petrie, a versatile centre back, has come on leaps and bounds too. Another buy from north of the Hadrian’s Wall, only £450k, he has made the Scotland European Championships squad and will undoubtedly be a part of the Spurs squad for the next 10-15 years.