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Daniel Levy, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, insists he is committed to the club's new continental-style system of management and will spare no effort to restore one of football's perennial sleeping giants to its former glories. Two weeks after the acrimonious departure of former France coach Jacques Santini, Levy, who has come under increasing pressure for the club's succession of flawed managerial appointments, said he would remain as chairman until he could bring tangible success to the team he has supported since boyhood.
The departure of Santini after only 13 games in charge again called into question the decision by the Spurs board to go down the continental route in order to revive the club's fortunes.
Despite initial statements from Spurs that their head coach had left for purely personal reasons, Santini then said he had been unacceptably misled about his exact role under the club's new sporting director, Frank Arnesen. Levy has categorically denied this version of events and continues to believe firmly in a system long used by a raft of leading foreign clubs, provided, crucially, the chemistry is correct which clearly was not the case with Arnesen and Santini. "It's unfortunate what happened with Jacques," said Levy. Unfortunate or simply a mistake? Levy sidesteps the issue by looking at the bigger picture. "Obviously it's incredibly frustrating when you put in all that work behind the scenes - even more if, like me, you're a fan of the club - and a lot of it then hinges on what happens on a Saturday. But what our critics should be doing is talking to some of the overseas clubs like Juventus and AC Milan who have been operating this kind of system for decades."
He rejects the idea that the system is not suited to the English game by revealing he was "inundated" with candidates "all of them currently employed and many of them English" as soon as Santini's resignation was known. "So much for an English manager not wanting to work under this system," Levy argues without naming names. What it does prove, he adds, is that there are those outside the club who also believe in the route Spurs are taking, though in the end Martin Jol, Santini's assistant, was promoted from within.
"Listen, this club has not got things right for a long time, probably since the 1960s in terms of league position," says Levy. "We need to be in the top six category because we have the fan base. I believe firmly in the direction we are going. We could have gone for another big name as head coach but Frank's recommendation was that Martin had the best credentials."
Levy dismisses the suggestion that he has been responsible for the years of mediocrity. "I only ever actually appointed Glenn Hoddle. But it's the nature of football that the odds are always stacked against managers and coaches. They know it can sometimes be a very short career." So does that mean Jol, the club's ninth manager in 13 years, will be shown the White Hart Lane door if he fails to deliver?
"Martin understands that if, in two or three years' time, we haven't moved forward as a club, he'll be moving somewhere else. That's what happens on the Continent where it's no big deal. The important thing is that we have confidence in him and he knows that."
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