Andre Villas-Boas might have thought he had encountered some of the most stubborn figures in English football when he was manager of Chelsea last season, but then he was yet to live through a summer transfer window conducted by Daniel Levy, an experience only available to Tottenham managers.
It is the month of August and so it follows that Levy is in the midst of tearing up his Spurs squad and rebuilding it all at the same time, as few other clubs do. Predicting what the squad looks like on September 1 is a fraught business.
The signing of Emmanuel Adebayor last night on a permanent deal from Manchester City, on a contract subsidised by the selling club, is a triumph that means some of the pressure is off when it comes to the lack of strikers. But there is still much work to do.
Levy has acted on the recommendation of his manager to move on two players who were once prime examples of Tottenham's policy of prioritising young English signings. Tom Huddlestone (25) is on his way to Stoke City on loan. Michael Dawson (29) will be sold to Queens Park Rangers for around £8m. Both bought by Spurs in January 2005 at the ages of 18 and 21 respectively, from Championship clubs, they were emblematic of the club's approach at that time.
It is not to say that Spurs have abandoned that policy altogether. Steven Caulker (20) called to up to the England squad this month, is highly-rated at the club and now has a place among the squad's four first-choice centre-backs.
The Spurs substitutes bench on Saturday featured English youngsters like Kyle Naughton, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend. Whether any are good enough to make the breakthrough is another matter. At the same time the club is clearing out others once considered young, English and promising -- the likes of Jermaine Jenas and David Bentley.
The picture is confused once again, but no one could doubt that Levy is in control. Were he still in the Spurs job, Harry Redknapp would have been complaining at every opportunity in the last few weeks at having just one striker -- Jermain Defoe -- at his disposal. As it is, Villas-Boas, grateful for the opportunity to manage Spurs, has no other option but to bite his lip.
He can only hope that it all comes together at the last moment. That Levy gets his £40m-plus fee from Real Madrid for Luka Modric that he has held out for all summer and that there is time then to buy a new first-choice goalkeeper, a left-back as cover for Benoit Assou-Ekotto, at least one more wide player and one more striker.
Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho is the key man whom Villas-Boas wants but at a price of £20m is simply not feasible for the club. So too striker Fernando Llorente who has a buy-out clause in his Atletico Bilbao contract.
Last summer, with the Modric-to- Chelsea row and various other issues hanging over them, Spurs lost their two games in the August transfer window to Manchester United and Manchester City. They might well have done so whatever their status but a draw against both, or one win, would have seen them finish above Arsenal and in the Champions League this season. As usual, Levy has many plates. (© Independent News Service)