“Can open, worms everywhere”, “We all knew they couldn’t get away with it forever didn’t we?” “You can’t pay big players small money” and so on….
If you think Danny Rose’s interview with the Sun was misconstrued, misinterpreted and a sensationalised version of a candid open conversation with a newspaper lacking in integrity – it wasn’t.
The timing of his money-driven rant couldn’t have been much worse, but the message was clear and the motivation transparent.
“As with everyone else in my team, in my opinion, I am worth more than I am getting. I am not speaking on behalf of other players, but that is my view.”
This is the nightmare scenario that Spurs fans had feared. It’s the scenario the sensible ones had expected. Kyle Walker’s departure may have been the first thread pulled from Tottenham’s finely crafted fabric, but Danny Rose’s comments today will have accelerated what now feels like an inevitable unravelling.
It’s hard for the ordinary fan to sympathise with a millionaire chasing more money, and with Rose choosing the sneakiest of ways to air his feelings, it’s easy to label him greedy and underhanded.
However, if you strip back the poor timing, the cutting choice of words and the general “oh you sneaky b*stard” feelings you are likely to get while reading his interview, Rose isn’t exactly wrong is he?
The England international is one of the finest players in his position in the Premier League and he is not being paid accordingly. Not even close.
Worryingly for Spurs, the vast majority of their team could justifiably echo what Rose has said. That money should be the major deciding factor on whether a team teetering on the edge of something special actually achieves what they potentially could is of course mournful, but let’s not pretend to be naïve enough to think that things weren’t always heading in this direction.
Rose may have even looked across the pre-season dressing room at a silent but visibly disappointed Eric Dier. The holding midfielder coveted by Mourinho kept schtum when United were making their move, and while Daniel Levy rebuffed the offers, Dier didn’t rock the boat and the chance to double his money disappeared.
Dier kept his counsel throughout and handled the transfer speculation with class. It’s an admirable approach, but ultimately, if he indeed wanted the move, he missed out. You can almost hear Rose’s agent whispering “nice guys finish last”.
Of course, nothing has actually happened yet. So far the exodus has only been a trickle and not a deluge. Only Walker has left and Kieran Trippier is a terrific ready-made right back replacement, lessening the blow considerably. Rose is still at the club too. But the glue of potential title glory can only keep an ambitious youthful squad together for so long – the money has to be right.
Rose’s words won’t have planted seeds in his team mates’ heads, they will have simply watered the plants already growing there.
Deli Ali has also been non-committal and elusive when questioned about his long term future at Spurs. Toby Alderweireld’s contract talks seem to have stalled for monetary reasons too – there are conflicting reports, but the latest development suggest he wants parity of pay with Harry Kane. Denmark’s Christian Eriksen will also be keen to fatten his wallet; he is one of the league’s most potent creative forces.
Should Spurs regress in the Premier League this season, finishing 3rd or lower come May, then the wages, or lack thereof, become an even bigger issue.
Daniel Levy will argue that with the costs of a new stadium to cover and the need for frugality and book balancing, that it’s unfair to lay the blame at his door. He might claim that if players are expecting a wage to match the equivalent of what they could get at clubs backed by billionaire investors with infinite resources or commercial behemoths like Man Utd, then they are being unreasonable.
Levy is no fool – he would have known full well that soon the players would come knocking with wage slips in hand and ideas of adding extra zeros to their take home figures in their heads. It will be impossible to appease them all with 5 year plans and projections about the benefits a new stadium could bring.
Could it be a case of the hard-nosed negotiator paying his stable of thoroughbreds as little as possible for as long as possible before they all tried to bolt? Maybe Levy will simply renegotiate half a dozen contracts and extinguish the fires that Rose has started.
As recently as July he said:
“You just have to find the balance and the philosophy at Tottenham is that if a player does well we will reward them and we will keep rewarding them.
“That’s one of the attractions of Tottenham that you may sign a five-year deal, but if someone does exceptionally well after a year we’ll tear up that contract and give them another one.”
That all sounds well and good, but the “balance” he talks about achieving very often means that progress is strangled by the confines of Spurs current wage structure. Their top earners Kane and Lloris earn the same as Man Utd’s often derided Jesse Lingard and less than bit-part utility player Ashley Young.
If Levy must genuinely barter the clubs future against the value of their most impressive team in the Premier League era, then the timing of the emergence of their current set of players as a real force is unfortunate in many ways.
It’s also the cost of success that a club just below the top tier often has to pay – the better your players perform, the more likely the chances they will be cherry picked by more financially powerful rivals.
If you are a genuine football fan, you won’t want to see this Tottenham team dismantled before it peaks. Regrettably, money is the primary driving force in modern football and Spurs just don’t seem to have enough of it.