Tottenham isn’t known for spending a lot of money on young players; instead, the North London team tends to be conservative and prudent in the market.
Conversely, Chelsea, Spurs’ next opponent and arch rivals in London, have spent at unprecedented rates both during and after the Roman Abramovich era. Todd Boehly has subsequently taken over as the club’s owner.
Over the last three transfer windows, West London, a club situated in the affluent London borough of Fulham, has spent a record £1 billion on players, including Christopher Nkunku, Moisés Caicedo, Mykhaylo Mudryk, and Enzo Fernández, all of whom arrived for staggering sums of money.
Unfortunately, the record-breaking levels of spending seemed to have no effect on the field for the four successive managers of last season—Thomas Tuchel, Bruno Saltor, Frank Lampard, and Graham Potter—with Chelsea plunging to a dismal 12th place finish below the likes of Fulham, Crystal Palace, and Brentford as the 2021 Champions League Winners considered their first season outside of Europe since 2017.
But Boehly showed no signs of relenting, and Chelsea’s prodigal investor once again pulled out the big guns when the summer transfer window opened. Moisés Caicedo arrived during a busy summer for a Premier League record transfer cost of £115 million, surpassing the British record that Chelsea had set just seven months earlier.
A number of players were added during the summer transfer window, including highly regarded rookie Roméo Lavia, who wasn’t quite ready for the first squad, Christopher Nkunku, who would later sustain a catastrophic injury during preseason, sidelining the French striker until at least late November, and highly regarded City star Cole Palmer.
The Blues also acquired a plethora of Europe’s and South America’s top young players, including Monaco center-back Axel Disasi, 22-year-old Nicolas Jackson, 19-year-old Lesley Ugochukwu, and two attackers from Santos, Deivid Washington and Ângelo, who came from the same team that Real Madrid winger Rodrygo Goes and Neymar departed from.
But once more, the extravagant spending has had little to no effect on the playing field. After a terrible start that saw Chelsea lose four of their first 10 games and only three triumphs for Mauricio Pochettino’s developing team, Chelsea finds itself in the bottom half of the Premier League table once more.
The importance of ‘commitment to the cause’
During Ange Postecoglou’s press conference, the manager was keen to highlight how spending endless sums of money in the hope of finding the winning formula on the pitch doesn’t work, and that it is instead about building a core group of players who are committed to work for a common goal.
The Spurs boss when asked whether he would like a billion pounds to spend said: “No not necessarily, I’ve never felt that it’s just about spending money. I feel like that’s been proven time and time again, if you get it all right you’ve got a pretty strong case but there’s always a limit to every team. You can’t have 24 world class players that will never work, it doesn’t work that’s been proven.”
With rumours that Chelsea had to use two training pitches for the first team to train on last year, Postecoglou also pointed out that it’s important to have commitment from all the players, something that’s difficult to achieve when your balancing a squad of thirty plus world class players, with tensions and unrest likely to grow.
Postecoglou said: “It’s about having a squad that’s balanced, guys that are committed to the cause, guys who aren’t maybe going to play every game but when they do they make a huge impact because they buy into what your trying to build.”
He added: “So just spending endless money to get the best players has been proven time and time again isn’t the answer. What the answer is is to get the right chemistry in the team and squad. To have 24 players committed to one cause. I don’t think you can do that if you just get the 24 best players in the world, that’s just a headache that I definitely don’t want.”
The arrival of Johan Lange and the need to get January business done early
Elsewhere for Spurs, this week has also seen the arrival of a highly regarded duo from Aston Villa, with technical director Johan Lange arriving to head up the sports directorship while Rob Mackenzie returns back to Spurs as chief scout after also having a successful spell at Aston Villa, where he worked under Lange as head of recruitment for the Midlands club.
Danish director Lange has seen his career excel after originally being the technical director at FC Copenhagen, becoming known for a successful track record of buying players cheaply before selling them on for a high fee.
Lange also had a successful three years at Aston Villa where he oversaw the clubs return to the Premier League after a spell in the Championship. Lange would go on to bring the likes of Emi Martínez, Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins into the club to ensure Premier League survival, with the three also playing key roles in the Birmingham side’s eventual ascension into Europe.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie has experience working at Tottenham before. The scout worked as Head of Player ID from February 2015 to August 2016, with some of his most significant signings being the likes of Spurs legend Toby Alderweireld, Kieran Trippier and current Spurs captain Son Heung-Min as well as Dele Alli arriving in the first few days of Mackenzie’s initial spell at Tottenham.
Regarding the arrival of both Lange and Mackenzie in their respective roles, Postecoglou explained how he was looking forward to working with both of them and pleased that they have plenty of time to bed in ahead of the January transfer window, with an emphasis placed on getting his side’s business done early on in the window.
The Spurs boss said: “Yeah look I’ve caught up with Johan. He’s in the building now so he’s interacting with all the right people. It’s about setting up all the procedures and structures so he can get his department working the way he wants, he wants to get all the right outcomes. It is important that they’ve come in now, the January window like for every club is an important one.”
He added: “If you can get your business done early it’s certainly more helpful. If you leave it to the end of January sometimes what your trying to gain, you kinda miss that opportunity when you’ve waited the whole month. That’s sometimes out of your control but having him in is good. We’ll have plenty of discussions between now and then, and looking forward to working with him.